These curried cauliflower and potato pasties are classic British comfort food made with an Indian spiced tomato, potato, and cauliflower filling encased in flaky hot water pastry. Yes, please.
These pasties are as wholesome eaten cold as they are hot and a great picnic item to take on a day out. They rarely make it as far as my picnic basket, though, as I’m forever eating them piping hot out of the oven—they’re the main reason why I constantly have a burnt mouth. Add just a spoonful of mango chutney from a jar on the side for complete perfection.–Calum Franklin
What is a Pasty?
A pasty is exactly what it seems to be—pastry enclosing a filling, usually curried, into a sort of handheld pie. The notion reputedly originated in Cornwall, or is, at least, extraordinarily close to the hearts of home cooks there. Cornwall pasties commonly contain a filling of beef, onion, and potato, although beyond that region, fillings vary quite spectacularly, notably in recent years. Perhaps the most iconic thing about the pasty is its hot water shortcut pastry, which is made with a rather unique approach that turns out a marvelously flaky texture.
Curried Cauliflower and Potato Pasties
For the hot water crust pastry
- Scant cup water (“scant” means “almost but not quite”)
- 5 3/4 ounces (about 3/4 cup) lard or shortening
- 2 rosemary sprigs (optional though recommended)
- 2 teaspoons table salt
- 18 ounces (about 3 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs beaten
For the cauliflower and potato filling
- 2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 medium (7 oz) onion thinly sliced
- 18 ounces floury potatoes such as russets, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch (1cm) chunks
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped
- 1 ounce fresh ginger finely chopped
- 2 green chile peppers seeded and finely chopped, or less to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 medium (8 oz) plum tomatoes roughly chopped
- 1/2 to 1 cup water
- 1 whole (1 1 /2 lbs) cauliflower cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) florets
- 1/2 lime
- table salt and black pepper for seasoning
Make the hot water crust pastry
- In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine the water, lard or shortening, rosemary, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the lard or shortening completely melts. Turn off the heat and let it stand for at least 10 minutes.
- Sift the flour into a bowl. Using either a round-bladed knife or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed, start to work in the eggs. Mix until the egg is thoroughly dispersed through the flour, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Remove the rosemary from the pan and return the water to a boil. Slowly pour the water over the flour and egg, scraping the bowl and paddle halfway through to prevent any lumps from forming. Mix until well combined, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Place the dough on a rimmed baking sheet between 2 pieces of parchment paper and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 10 minutes before using. (You can stash the pastry dough in the fridge for up to 3 days or up to 1 month in the freezer. To use the dough from the freezer, allow it to come back to refrigerator temperature overnight.)
Make the cauliflower and potato filling
- In a large skillet over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the mustard seeds and let sizzle for 30 seconds.
- Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until it just begins to color, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add the potatoes, garlic, ginger, chiles, and spices and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and 1/2 cup water. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are just cooked and the sauce has thickened, adding more water if the potatoes become dry, 15 to 30 minutes.
☞TESTER TIP: If you prefer your food more overtly flavorful and heavily spiced, consider doubling the spices.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C).
- Coat the cauliflower florets with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and scatter in a roasting pan or on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the cauliflower until softened and colored, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 425°F (220°C).
- Add the cauliflower to the potato mixture, squeeze in the lime, season to taste, and let cool.
Assemble the pasties
- Divide the pastry dough into 8 equal balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each ball to a 1/4-inch (6 mm) thick circle. The dough will be stretchy.
- Divvy the filling mixture among the pastry circles, spooning about 1/2 cup of it onto half of each circle. Fold the other half of each pastry over to enclose the filling and crimp the edges together to seal.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the pasties on the paper, brush the surface of the pastry all over with the egg wash, and sprinkle with salt.
- Bake the pasties until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with a spoonful of mango chutney, if desired.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
These pasties were delicious crescents of flavor. I really thought they were lovely. The pastry was crisp and flaky with a delicate fragrance of the rosemary which, although subtle, carried through. My mother-in-law is Pakistani and said these are the true flavors of Aloo Gobi. She was really impressed and so was I.
I used margarine to make the dough as I was unable to use lard. The dough was quick to make and easy to handle. They baked beautifully and looked gorgeous coming out of the oven.
The two chile peppers may be too spicy for some, especially the uninitiated, but I do like my heat, so I really enjoyed the peppers. I found in the preparation that I would prefer to add my garlic, ginger, and spices and cook them off before adding the potatoes as everything did start to stick and I couldn’t cook it off for longer than a minute or two. I would have preferred to cook off the spices, then add the potato, tomatoes, and then the water.
I unfortunately didn’t have any mango chutney to serve it with, also mangoes are still out of season here in South Africa, so I could not try it with it. I do think, however, the tangy sweetness of mango chutney would marry well with the spiciness of the pastie. They were great eaten warm or cold.
Portable curry—what a great idea! We love the spiced tender vegetables encased in golden brown pockets. These pasties are wonderful warm or at room temperature, and the crust stays dry and sturdy as the pasties cool, making them an ideal candidate for a picnic. The mango chutney pairs nicely with the curried filling, but we would happily enjoy the pasties plain.
The hot water pastry is super simple to put together and is pliable and easy to handle, even after being refrigerated overnight. Lard could be replaced with shortening to make the pasties vegan, and in fact, I made them both ways and shortening made a lighter crust with a more neutral flavor. I didn’t think rosemary was necessary—it was completely overpowered by the aroma of the filling.
Cutting the cauliflower into smallish florets (about 1/2-inch pieces to match the diced potatoes) made the filling more cohesive for neater stuffing and eating. The recipe yields more filling than you need, but having delicious curried vegetables leftover is never a bad thing.
I definitely felt like I had channeled The Great British Baking Show for this recipe. I even watched a Paul Hollywood video tutorial on how to crimp the crust! The pastry was so easy and it was really fantastic! It baked into a perfect flaky vessel to hold the cauliflower and potato mixture. And NO SOGGY BOTTOM!
I wound up amping up the spices by doubling the amounts for the potato and cauliflower mixture. I also felt like the addition of some ground Indian peppers/paprika would add more depth.
Although a little time-consuming, this is a great recipe that brought me out of my comfort zone. I used gluten-free flour and, to be frank, I should have used a different blend although just enjoying the filling on its own would be delicious.
I will be making this again (this time with a better flour blend). I do think a slightly sweet/tart topping would go well with this.
I am obsessed with this Hot Water Crust Pastry! It’s foolproof to make (I used shortening, instead of lard) and so easy to work with. No more worrying if the dough is too cold or too warm. This dough is literally supposed to be warm! When baked, it’s sturdy, flaky, melt in your mouth, and crunchy. Infusing the fat with rosemary definitely added a subtle flavor that complemented the filling well. This dough is perfect for these pasties or empanadas or pot pies. I will be using this pastry dough for so many things in the future.
The pastie filling tasted good. The cauliflower and potato were seasoned nicely with the turmeric and garam masala. However, once they were in the pasties, they were a little dry. Maybe more tomatoes to add moisture or even spreading mango chutney on the inside of the pastry dough would be nice.
All in all, these pasties were delicious because of the crust. You could even make them in two-bite appetizer size.
Originally published December 28, 2020