Sweet or Savory Pie: An Age Old Dilemma

December 7, 2010

Mmmm Pie. Just the word itself can bring delicious memories swirling to the surface (or fun math equations). Now I love sweets, but sometimes I have a hankering for something savory. This past weekend was a sometime. <(>.>)>

I had been seeing pies everywhere (i.e. magazines, stores, tv, my inbox, blogs…) and I absolutely had to have some. I really needed more buttery, flakey, crusty, goodness in my life. Also, I wanted to try making handpies for the first time. This way I could have hot pocket-esque meals in the freezer, ready to go the next time a craving struck. In my head I was imagining pies with an Asian flair. Something with a filling that was slightly creamy, spicy, and cilantro-y. I found the perfect jump-off recipe in my Best-ever Curry Cookbook.


-I added turmeric & ground coriander for color and flavor to the pie dough. You can add any spice/color combo your heart desires.

-The original recipe called for a fresh Indian cheese, paneer (which is absolutely delicious) but I substituted tofu because I had it and needed to use it up.

-Garam masala is a spice blend that has become more readily available in larger chain stores and international stores. If unable to find you can easily make your own.

So delicious with sour cream.

Cilantro-y Tofu Mushroom Handpies

Crusty-crust (lol <(^_^)>)

  • 3 ¾c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 ¼ cups cold salted butter (2 ½ sticks), cubed
  • 4 tbsp vegetable shortening
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 4-6 tbsp cold water

Filling (Adapted from Best-ever Curry Cookbook by Mridula Baljekar)

  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 8 oz. firm tofu, in small ½ inch cubes
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 1 fresh spicy green chili of choice, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch piece ginger, sliced
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 3 c. button mushrooms (an 8oz. pkg)
  • 2 c. frozen peas, thawed (again 8oz. bag)
  • 1 c. chopped radishes
  • ¾ c plain yogurt mixed with 1 tsp cornstarch

To make crust:

Stir together the flour, coriander, and sugar with whisk or fork to “sift” it. Using a nifty pastry blender or two knives cut in the cold butter and shortening into the flour mixture. You want the consistency to be crumbly with the fats all nicely encased in the flour. Once all the flour has been blended in, stir in the egg, vinegar and a few tablespoons of water to the mixture. I like using my hands at this part to make sure everything comes together into a nice dough. Add more water if dough is dry, but you may not need it all. Don’t overwork the dough as your warm hands can make the dough melty. Form a disc and wrap in plastic. Let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes or longer to set up.

To make the filling:

Heat oil in a wok or large pan. Fry the tofu cubes until they are golden brown on all sides. Remove and drain on paper towel.

In a food processor grind onion, cilantro, chili pepper, garlic, and ginger until it is a fairly smooth paste. Remove and mix in turmeric and garam masala. Remove the excess oil from the pan, leaving behind about a tablespoon. Heat and fry the paste over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, or until the raw onion smell disappears and the oil separates.

Add in the mushrooms, peas, and fried tofu. Mix well and cook for 3-4 minutes allowing the mushrooms to cook. Bring heat down to low and gradually fold in the yogurt. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool, the cooler the filling the easier the pies will be to make. Fold in the radishes right before filling the pies.

To roll out dough:

Flour your workstation and rolling pin. Roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thickness. Using a large bowl (7-8” diameter) cut out your dough circles. Re-roll and cut as necessary. You should be able to get around 12-14 circles depending on size.

Finally, making the handpies:

Preheat your oven to 400°. Take a crust and fill with a heaping spoonful or two (well 3-4 tablespoons if you need an exact-ish measurement) a little off-center. Then using a wet brush dipped in water, or just your finger, moisten the edge of the pastry and fold over the dough to make a half-moon (think tacos). To seal, take a fork and using the tines press the dough together. Cut two slits on the top for steam to escape.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until crust is golden browned and filling is bubbling. Serve with sour cream and nom away!

~Erik <(^_^)>


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