Monica Bhide's Chile Pea Puffs

Monica Bhide's Chile Pea Puffs Recipe

I have some special books to highlight in the next few weeks. As I'm sure you've noticed by now, my attention meanders when it comes to cooking. Sometimes weeks will go by when I'm focused on experimenting with my own ideas, then a book will catch my attention and I'll spend days cooking from that author's point of view. It's one of the great aspects of cooking - easily being able try on another cooks shoes and walk around a bit. I made Monica Bhide's Chile Pea Puffs over the weekend - crispy-skinned baked snacks stuffed with peas, paneer cheese, chiles, and garlic. The recipe is from her new book, Modern Spice: Inspired Indian Flavors for the Contemporary Kitchen, and representative of the type of recipes you'll find throughout.

Monica Bhide's Chile Pea Puffs

So, the big turn-off when it comes to cooking Indian food at home is the expansive list of ingredients and spices required for many traditional preparations (I'm speaking v. broadly here). Or at least, that's the turn off for me. When I do Indian, it often ends up being more Californian than Indian - I bail out on a spice here and there, and often bump up the fresh vegetables. What I like so much about Modern Spice is the way Monica has turned a contemporary eye toward the Indian pantry and developed a collection of recipes that are mindful of tradition, but not afraid to build on it or break with it. What I'm saying is, if you're looking for a book full of traditional Indian standards, there are other books to buy - great ones. If you're looking for ways to integrate many of the alluring flavors and ingredients of India into your daily cooking, this book is packed with ideas for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.

Monica Bhide's Chile Pea Puffs

To give you a better sense of the recipes in the book, here's a sampling of the ones that are top of my list: Kumquat and Mango Chutney with Onion Seeds, Peanut Tikkis with Tamarind-Date Chutney, Masala Omelette with Green Chile Chutney, Paneer with Orange-Apricot Chutney, Heirloom Tomato Salad with Chaat Masala, Indian Onion Rings, The Indian "Burger", Saffron-Cardamom Macaroon, Lychee Phirni. There are more than enough veg-friendly recipes in Modern Spice to make it a worthwhile purchase for vegetarians, and robust chapters on poultry, fish, meat, and shellfish for those who aren't.

Modern Spice is printed in black-and-white with a color photo insert and spans 265 pages. The recipes are fresh and vibrant, most span a single page or less, and (in many cases) feature concise ingredient lists. The Chile Pea Puff recipe I'm featuring today is a good example. I've done pea dumplings before, but I love the serrano and paneer twist on these. I made a double batch, froze half, and will make Monica's Kumquat and Mango Chutney to go with them the next time we have friends over.

Feel free to read more about Monica here, and you can stop by her blog as well.

Monica Bhide's Chile Pea Puffs

Heidi notes: If you have the time make a double batch of these, they freeze really well - a month or two double bagged. Bake straight from the freezer. You can get paneer at an increasing number of places now - at most Indian grocers, and some cheese shops. If you can't track down the paneer, no problem. You can make these dumplings with ricotta, crumbled tofu, or queso fresco. Vegans, go the tofu route, and seal the wrappers with water in place of the egg white. Monica suggests baking these (see photo), but also mentions they can be fried.

nonstick cooking spray (HS note: or a bit of olive oil)
1 cup cooked green peas, lightly mashed
1/4 cup crumbled paneer
2 small green serrano chiles, minced (remove seeds to reduce heat)
1/4 teaspoon salt to start
1/4 teaspoon red chile powder or red chile flakes (less to reduce heat)
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
32 wonton wrappers
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray (HS note: or line with parchment paper).

In a bowl combine the peas, paneer, green chiles, salt, chile powder, and garlic. Mix well.

Place one teaspoon of the mixture into a center of a wonton wrapper. Lightly brush the sides og the wrapper with the egg white. Fold the wrapper over to form a triangle, or if you are using round wrappers, fold to form a half-moon. Press the edges with a fork, gently to secure the seam so the filling does not fall out. (HS note: I rolled them into mini-spring-roll shapes - see photo)

Place the puffs in a single layer on the baking sheet. Spray them lightly with cooking spray (HS note: or brush with a bit of olive oil). Cook for 7 to 8 minutes or until they are crisp and the skin changes to a lovely golden brown. Turn once, halfway through baking. Serve immediately with your choice of chutney.

Makes 32 puffs.

Reprinted with permission from Modern Spice: Inspired Indian Flavors for the Contemporary Kitchen by Monica Bhide. (Simon & Schuster, 2009)

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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Hi Heidi - I love the look of this recipe, thank you!
Making your own paneer is simple if you have time to plan ahead. Just bring a litre of full cream milk to the boil, reduce to a low simmer, add the juice of 1 lemon or 1 lime, stir til it separates or curdles, and keep stirring for a little while til it stops separating and you have curds and yellow liquid in your pan. If you aren't getting the separation, add more juice. Put a fine cloth (muslin is good) inside a colander and drain the contents of the saucepan through the cloth. Tie the cloth at the top and hang over the sink or a bowl for around an hour to remove more liquid. I tend to flatten mine then pop it onto a cutting board, and leave it under a weight for a few hours to drain off even more. You get a lovely fresh tasting paneer. The more you press it, the desner the texture so if you want crumbly paneer for a filling, it is quicker. If you want dense paneer that will hold its shape for a dish like palak paneer, press it more firmly for longer.


oh those peas look like a hit!


Beautiful colors: I love peas and looking for new recipes to cook them. Thank you for this one...

Dominique (de vous à moi...)

I love the picture of the peas, they're so green, and the puffs sound absolutely wonderful!


I made the pea dumplings a few weeks ago and LOVED them. Will definitely try the indian version!


wow it's sounds great, I really would like to try it. I discover you today, my compliments, your blog is wonderful. Marie

Marie_I Calicanti

Wow, these look delicious, almost like an oblong samoosa…


Thanks for the recipe -- I'm compiling a list of appetizers to make, my friend has asked (drafted?) me to cook for her birthday dinner party. The fact that these can be prepared and freezed ahead of time is definitely a plus!

They're all big on meat, so I'm going to do all vegetarian, and see if anyone notices.

Thanks again, keep up the fantastic work!


This looks like a great recipe for an appetizer - perfect for a dinner party. And I like that it makes so many (32) too. Can't wait to try it!

Tabitha (From Single to Married)

Sounds like a great book with great recipes. And those puffs look and sound delicious. I love that they're made with wonton wrappers. So easy!


The recipe and the cookbook look great. I also make my own paneer but with a little twist. I add some garlic, bay leaves and peppercorns wrapped in cheesecloth (like a boquet garni) to the milk when I'm gently bringing it to a simmer. Then I get flavored paneer - it works brilliantly.


This sounds really good, although I would have to reduce the spiciness to please a certain husband of mine!

I am not sure whether I can get wonton wrappers where I live - I probably can - but would filo pastry make a good substitute? Paneer, oddly, is much easier; our local supermarket sells it.

Mrs Redboots

This recipe looks wonderful! I absolutely adore Indian food, but agree that the amount of spices (and having them in the pantry) turns most people off from trying these recipes. It's good to know there's a cookbook out there that is cognizant of that, while still trying to highlight Indian traditions. I love your blog and can't wait to read each new post.

Cookin' Canuck

Another cookbook along these same lines is Ruta Kahate's 5 Spices, 50 Dishes. The recipes are really fine-tuned. I'm a veteran recipe-tweaker, and there weren't many changes or improvements I felt a need to try.

Mary-Claire van Leunen

I might just pick this up. I, too, find the spice list in traditional Indian cooking daunting. As busy as I am, I don't cook as often as I'd like, so it's hard to justify stocking up on spices and ingredients that will likely go bad before I can use them up - or even a second time.


Perfect...Thanks ;-)

Mark Wisecarver

Paneer is so easy to make at home! And so delicious! Everyone should try it.


I often find Indian recipes intimidating but this one looks like a great recipe to start with.


this look WOW!
i must say this is a great side dish or veggie main dish

Recipe man

Neat find! I've been experimenting a lot with paneer lately and this seems like a perfect fit. It's easy to make at home for those who can't find it in stores - all you need is a gallon of whole milk and a few tablespoons of lemon juice.


We made Indian food yesterday at school (I'm a culinary food student). How I wish I had had this recipe to play with. Ah well.


I am so hungry now! These look great and I would like to check out the rest of her recipes- thanks for sharing.


For me, it's not so much the expansive spice list that puts me off of Indian cooking - it's the time investment. I have a lot of the odder things in my spice box(es) but there often seem to be 37 steps in any Indian dish. This one looks mighty manageable -- and tasty. I also love the idea of freezing some for another meal or two. I'm not experienced with paneer, though I've eaten it. What makes it distinct from the other cheeses?

Becky and the Beanstock

What an unusual recipe!! I love peas so this will be perfect for me.

Treehouse Chef

I love little finger foods like this, and it's got endless possibilities. Indian cooking is one of my favorites, but yes it is extensive. The results can be well worth it.


Love that these are baked not fried. Any recipe that includes peas is always a hit at our table.

I agree, the long list in Indian recipes seems daunting. My husband goes for it though, and it's worth it every time! These look delicious, similar to something he made recently. Boy I'm a lucky girl to have him! Looks like we'd both love this book.

Michelle @ Find Your Balance

I CANNOT WAIT to make this for summer sunset concerts!!! The perfect snacking treat to get us energized for dancing on a hot & humid southern Illinois summer night! Thank you again, Heidi, for keeping it fresh, fun, tasty & healthy!!!


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The book sounds fantastic, and your review was really thorough, giving me a good idea of all it offers.

I also think this was an excellent recipe to show us. Sounds great! I wonder if you could substitute medium tofu for paneer?

Dallas from Bitchin' Kitchen

Hooray for peas!

Paneer is also really easy to make -- you just need fresh whole milk, lemon juice, and cheesecloth, and it's SO satisfying to use the homemade stuff! (If you can keep from devouring it immediately, that is.)


Oooh that looks delicious! In my experience it's absolutely fine (and easier) to leave the paneer out. Just make sure to add 2 tablespoon of some other (veg) binding agent (chickpea or corn flour).

Heidi, I made green peas kabab from the following website and it turned out phenomenal. Just wanted to share it with you:

But the most traditional use of green peas paste in my part of India is a filling in puri. Here is one example:

As usual, love your blog!


I taught a cooking lesson at an Indian home this past year and was astounded by the size of the spice pantry. I too like to take shortcuts and feel that if you can capture 3-5 of the key ingredients of a certain ethnic cuisine you can capture the essence of that food and still be able to whip something up with what's on hand easily on a weeknight.

Michele Morris

I love peas. I think these would also be great with lentils, and I agree, Heidi--about why home cooks would be intimidated by Indian cooking. And though my spice cupboard is filled with many Indian spices, I know I'm lacking many, so I do the bail-out thing, too. I appreciate someone making it a little more accessible for the home cook--I love naan, but don't exactly have a tandoor in the backyard!

Also. Baked, not fried? Hooray!

Erin @ Sprouted in the Kitchen

Perfect timing for our dinner party :) Can't wait to try these!


I love anything that you can pick up with your hands and eat, I am very primal that way. I think I can smell the aroma. delicious!


I am so happy that you featured an Indian recipe. I agree that the ingreidient list in a typical indian recipe could look daunting. However, introducing just one or tow ingredients like cumin, turmeric, or garam masala might lend that Indian flavour.

abt this recipe: Thanks for the inspiration. I was looking for a healthy snack recipe for my toddler, and this looks like a winner. I am thinking of using a pastry from jamaican veggie patties recipe for the cover.


These are soooo getting made. Except not until finals are over...


Wow this looks fantastic! I have to say, the one big thing that reading your blog is making me do, is want to buy more and more cookbooks! That, and I've been meaning to start poking at Indian food...

So this looks delicious, doesn't look too complicated, and with the recipe for Paneer as your first comment, this looks like a fun project to work on!

Thanks for this new direction to work in!



Mmm, love paneer. Substituting spinach for peas would probably be our route, but this still sounds really good.

The Duo Dishes

I love this recipe, I 've been playing with Indian spices myself lately and this looks like fun. Here in the frozen central US my peas are just out of the ground so I have a few weeks. Could you sub frozen peas in the interim? On an unrelated sidebar, I get the impression that you are generally concerned about the planet, but your site has an ad for Dasani bottled water? A surprise and a disappointment.


These are so sweet! I am going to try them with yogurt cheese that I make. Super simple. I empty a container of yogurt into a nut milk bag and hang it to drain over a bowl for 4ish hours. So easy. You can squeeze it after it has drained for a firmer cheese. I add a bit of salt and herbs and use it for cream cheese too.


Looks so delicious!

I'm going to use scramble tofu, guess I should use firm tofu, right? Otherwise, it might be too watery...

Thank you for the recipe.


These look yummy.
Making paneer is super easy. Take whole milk and heat it (slowly - don't want a messy stove top!) to near boiling. Add an acid (lemon juice or vinegar) - lower the temperature (so the milk doesn't burn) and stir ocassionally until the curd separates from the whey. Strain (add salt if you wish - I do) and then press. It's yummy and you know exactly what's in it.


How fresh and springy. We are so into paneer since our recent trip to Rajistan. This is so useful in many ways. In India they use the very rich and heavy buffalo milk for this so their paneer is extra rich and dense. When we make it here we use milk plus cream to more closely approximate the real thing. Good one, best from Santa Barbara, s

s. stockwell

These look wonderful. I have made the pea dumplings and love them whether pan fried or steamed. I'll definitely have to give these a try!

At the risk of asking a dumb question, is it possible to get an explanation of how to roll these into spring rolls? Thanks!


Wow! That looks like such a fun dish.

I know what you mean about the tendency to add more veggies and customize ingredients...but that's a good thing, right? :) I think so.

In any case, this looks like something I might try as an appetizer next time I have people over for Indian. Thanks for sharing!

Laurel from Simple Spoonful

Oh these look so delightful! My best friend is Indian and her mother makes something similar, I always request them of her when I go to visit. Another recipe book that sounds spiritually similar to the one you've mentioned is American Masala...ingredient lists are by no means extensive and the dishes are just as tasty as can be.

Laura [what i like]

Wow, I just picked up a copy of Modern Spice yesterday ... and flagged this recipe as one of the first things to try. They look wonderful and now I'm even more excited to make my own batch! :)

The Diva on a Diet

These look yum! Back in the day when Indian stores weren't so abundant making Indian groceries even less so abundant, a lot of folks used wonton wrappers for making samosas. It's also a heck of a lot easier than making samosa dough.

My sister makes these for her kids with puff pastry and stuffs them with boiled mashed up potatoes and an assortment of similar flavors above. Toasted cumin seeds are a great flavor add.

Thanks for the info on the book!

nithya at hungrydesi

Are frozen peas okay??
I don't think fresh peas are available where I live for quite a few months.

I also make my own paneer and like to add toasted whole cumin seeds. They keep well in the pantry, so you don't need to buy them for each recipe.

HS: Yes, you can substitute frozen peas. Just thaw them or cook them for just a quick flash in boiling water before pureeing them.


yum, yum, yum...i am making these this weekend!

shiwa sangmo

These are on deck for my next cocktail party!


Ah ha . . . now I remember why I was craving Indian tonight!

Lia Huber

I find Indian food very warm and soothing -- it's total comfort food for me (guess I was Indian in a past life or something). Anjum Anand also has a great perspective on modern Indian cooking, also worth checking out.

I found the indian spice lists intimidating at first too and didn't want to buy a whole bottle of a particular spice just to make a curry. I suggest hunting for a local store selling herbs/spices in bulk.

I realized most of the spices were available in the bulk section at Whole Foods, so I could buy a tablespoon of green cardamom pods for a recipe.

Allen of EOL

That sure looks good.


Ohhhhhh my gosh, these are definitely going on my "to cook" list!! They look amazing!


uhmmm, seems deliciuos and not too difficult to cook...congratulations..I always follow you..


Suggestion for people who are intimidated by the Indian spice list: I have found that the only 4 spices which are absolutely necessary and basic. They are:

1. Cumin seeds to be added to hot oil. 2. cumin powder , 3.coriander powder, 4.turmeric powder.

If you want some heat, you can include the chilli (red) powder. After that make your combos (onion/garlic/ginger combo, other spices , souring agent: tomato/tamarind/mango powder; restaurant kind of thickening: cream/ nut paste)

Disclaimer: My choice of basic spices are biased by the region of India I come from. e.g. people in south India would replace the cumin seeds by mustard seeds, and people in east would use 'panch phoron'

Heidi, I hope it was ok that I used your website to share some of my cooking insights


Absolutely amazing.


What a fantastic rec! my ethnic food of all kinds also ends up being more California... chalk it up to all the local veggies that I try and substitute.

Love her use of commonly available items as well, like wonton wrappers-- I'll have to try this recipe out!


Heidi, great recipe (again!)
Please could you include a bunch of chutneys (resipes) I'm love home made chutneys but have misplaced all my recipes - & there are such fantastic Indian homemade chutneys. A dish like this starter could not be served without a selection of them.
Thanks for taking the time!


What a simple recipe to try. Lovely photos and a fantastic blog site. Well done and thank you for sharing it.


Hi Heidi,
Love your pea puffs recipe.I add some boiled potato to this usually.
Perfect coffee time snack for us at chilly evenings.thanks for sharing.


I love Indian food and have about 10 of the classic cookbooks. And I DO make many dishes from them, but I agree that the number of spices and the number of steps in the recipe is over powering.

I recently decided to try and "go more healthy and natural" and started cooking whole Indian meals, the rice, main dish, side dishes, pickles. And I was cooking all day long! One okra raita said to cook the okra for 45 minutes, stirring constantly! Needless to say, I cooked them only 25 minutes! :-) After a week of standing in the kitchen all day long, I gave up, and now only do a dish here and there.

I love the idea of a simpler approach to Indian cooking and will take a look at this cookbook!


your blog is fantastic- as a vegan- very inspiring! and these 'rolls' look so delicious. question- is it possible to estimate calorie info for your recipes? and approx. serving size portion?
i shared your post w/ my veg sister- she called it food porn- so sensual and lush!
by the by, i think this recipe, with the spices and tofu, would be good with early spinach, steamed and pureed broccolini, or even cauliflower. do you think asparagus would work?
dreaming of farmer's markets in boston!

rachel dolmatch

What I like about this recipe and some of the ones you mentioned is that it takes the intimidation out. I'm not for using "traditional" recipes, but expanding on them, integrating them. Sounds like her book does just that. The pea puffs look so appetizing.


The pictures on this site are always so beautiful. Especially on this recipe. I might try these in the week and see how they go. What a perfect recipe for me. THANK YOU!


Fantastic, as always. I've not really cooked anything quite like this before but am willing to give it a go - with the encouragement that I can eat my creation!

Scott at Realepicurean

Great receipt. We are always looking for new finger food. Which is funny because I never figured anything with peas would be good. But this is worthy of experimenting with.


Thanks for posting about such a wonderful cookbook and author.
It has been a great discovery.


Heidi, I am making this right now, and after I mashed the peas I realized I don't really care for the texture of the skins left in the mash

I passed the whole thing through a sieve, but was wondering - do you think it would work if instead of mashing the peas I just used the food processor? It is a major pain to sieve the puree. I imagine that most people would not mind the skins, but I prefer a smoother feel

I am using ricotta - just tried the puree and it tastes absolutely wonderful...

HS: Hi Sally,, you can certainly give it a whirl in the food processor if you like.


I just polished off a plate of these. Terrific! I made a half batch but next time it'll be a double. Thanks Heidi!


Surprisingly enough, the combination of peas + cheese + peppers in a small wonton wrapper was T A S T Y. I made them last night with ricotta and extra spices...had a spiced mango chutney for dipping purposes... and they're all devoured by now. Thanks!


I think peas are literally the only vegetable on the planet I don't like. Being a huge fan of the appetizer, I did not want to miss out on this one - so I sub'd semi-mashed edamame for the peas (not exactly Indian I know but was going for texture), threw in some chopped chives from my garden and used part skim ricotta. I just pulled them out of the oven. YUM-MY!
This one is going to inspire - I think next time I will use asparagus. Thanks Heidi!

HS: Sounds great - and you know I'm always looking for an excuse to throw chopped chives in just about anything. :)


I made these last night and the filling was out of this world but I baked the rolls instead of frying them and didn't serve them immediately as soon as they came out of the oven and the result was very esthetic but a disaster. The rice paper had become so hard and rubbery and not only tasted awful but was impossible to eat. Is there a secret to baking rice paper?

HS: Yikes, that's no good. I suspect for this type of thing you're really going to want to use wonton wrappers - not rice paper wrappers which I primarily use for fresh rolls.


These look so good. I feel like almost anything can be sweetly delicious wrapped in wonton papers. I think these could be great with spinach, sundried tomatoes, olive and feta inside- using the same cooking direction

Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen)

These puffs look so good, they remind me of the samosas I haven't made in a long time. I'll have to wait till the summer is gone.


The "print with photo" option is not on there!

HS: No worries Heather, "print with photo" got moved to the tops of all the "print recipe" pages.


great recipe. my paneer wasn't so crumbly but that didn't really matter. I loved the idea of using wonton wrappers! any other tips on baking the frozen ones?


I made these for lunch today.
I had to buy whatever ingredients I could find in rural Austria, so they're probably a lot different that what was intended, but they were still amazing...and the whole family ate them (even my husband, who insists he hates Indian food). I used ricotta and wrapped them in rice paper wrappers (I can't find wonton wrappers anywhere here!) and just fried them in a bit of oil. Fantastic!
Thank you!


I actually find the opposite to be true on spice use. with many american dishes, you buy ingredients but can't reuse them and they just sit in your fridge. With Indian/Pakistani recipes, you can use the same ingredients in many recipes, give or take few spices, and it's easier on the budget. i'll have to look at this book. I only go for authentic pakistani/indian style cooking but it would be nice to see some twist or blend of spices with a modern touch for daily cooking. who wants to eat pasta all the darn time? book sounds good.


YUM! I made these last night with feta and a water seal, they were very delish :)


83 comments! I don't suppose that you'll ever see this but wanted to let you know that I gave this excellent recipe a go, with modifications to bump up the protein and they have my non-healthy-food-lovin'-hubby's seal of approval!
Rather than the paneer I ground about 1/2c garbanzo (cooked) , 1/4c feta (will add more next time), and 1/2c plain yogurt (but wouldn't goat yogurt have been a great addition?).
Thanks so much for your wonderful site. Your recipes and photos are stellar.


Great recipe! I just made them and they came out delicious! I didn't have paneer or ricotta at hand so I used feta instead and the results were superb. Thanks again for a wonderful recipe :-)


Oh my these are so delicious and so easy to make. I had to use a Pasilla because we don't exactly have a wide variety of chiles where I live in Oregon. I keep wanting to dip them in something, but find myself out of Chutney. Any dipping sauce suggestions?


these are incredible! i made with ricotta and everyone loved them. i'm sure they'll be even better with paneer


I really like this recipe, it is so simple and satisfying. I'm from Oregon too, and I really like these with sweet chile dipping sauce, which you can find at most grocery stores and trader joe's.


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