For quite some time now, I have been complaining about the lack of baking  material in India–especially the complete absence of ready-to-use pastry. You know that from here, don’t you?

All this time, while I was busy swearing at Indian supermarket chains for not bringing baking stuff to India on a scale that I’d appreciate, a small part of me was up for a challenge. I was driven to experiment with recipes and substitutions to come up with stuff like this. It made me a better cook, I think. And it made me proud when I got something right. Then, a local supermarket displayed a ready-to-use blind-baked shortcrust pastry shell. An 8-inch pastry case for a whopping 400-odd rupees. I sneered and walked on. There was no way I was paying that much money for something I could make at home with just a little effort. Life went on, and then another store did the unthinkable. They brought in phyllo pastry. Ready-to-use. Flaky pastry of any kind is my nightmare. I can’t. I just don’t have the patience to make a thousand layers of pastry. I picked it up without batting an eyelid. Please don’t ask me how much I paid for it.

I loved it. I made this tart today, and I have some sheets leftover as well. It baked itself to crispy, golden perfection and held the gooey, caramelized interior with good strength. And it looked so pretty! Although I must admit, I still think it is criminal to pay that kind of money (not saying how much, not even now) for even rare pastry. I wish my local Iyengar bakery wala would just sell his Khaari biscuit dough to me!

Caramelized Onion, Mushroom, and Paneer Tart

Ingredients:

  • 3 sheets of ready rolled Phyllo pastry (I think my SPring roll wrappers/samosa pattis will also work here)
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 2-3 button mushrooms, sliced
  • Half a cup of fresh, soft paneer
  • 2 tbsp. grated cheese of choice (I used a mix of cheddar and mozzarella) 
  • 2-3 sprigs of thyme
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp. olive oil



Method:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan and saute the onions in it until they turn a golden brown.
  2. Place one sheet of phyllo on a chopping board . Brush with melted butter and fold in half. Do this to the other two sheets as well.
  3. Place the folded sheets one on top of the other, brushing butter in between.
  4. Crumble the paneer on top of the phyllo pile, leaving about half an inch of margin on all sides.
  5. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the paneer.
  6. Spoon the caramelized onions and mushrooms on top. Season with salt and pepper and finally, add the thyme.
  7. Fold the sides of the phyllo toward the center of the tart so you get a nice border that seals everything in. (Thank you for the idea, Donna Hay)
  8. Brush the folded sided with melted butter.
  9. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees centigrade for about 10 minutes or until the phyllo turns golden. 
  10. Serve warm with a light, leafy salad or by itself.