Indo-Persian Spiced Potato Knishes with curry mustard and zhoug. (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Indo-Persian Spiced Potato Knishes with curry mustard and zhoug. (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Hidden Persian spices make these knishes a perfect Purim appetizer

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Hidden fillings are a common theme of Purim foods, so I’ve adapted my Ashkenazi knishes to reflect the flavors of an Indian samosa and the similar sambooseh favored in Persia, the home of Esther and Mordechai.

Filled foods reflect the secrets inside the Book of Esther that must be revealed to bring down the evil Haman. My baked Indo-Persian Spiced Potato Knishes are vegetarian (with vegan and parve options) because tradition says that Esther maintained kashrut during her time in King Ahasuerus’ palace by only eating plant-based foods.

You can eat the knishes by themselves or with one of the sauces below. You can also make a quick curry mustard by combining curry powder with mustard (and perhaps a little mayonnaise) to taste.

Indo-Persian Spiced Potato Knishes

Makes 8

  • 1 lb. gold or Yukon potatoes
  • ¾ tsp. salt, divided
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil, divided, plus oil for baking sheet
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped green jalapeño chilis
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • ¼ tsp. dried, ground turmeric
  • ½ cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped cilantro or parsley
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne, optional
  • 1 (17.3-18 oz.) box puff pastry (see notes), defrosted
  • About ¼ cup flour
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Sauces (see below)

Put potatoes in pot. Cover with water. Add ¼ tsp. salt. Cover. Bring to simmer over medium high heat. Adjust heat to keep at simmer. Simmer until fork glides through potatoes. Drain. Let cool until the skins can be rubbed or peeled off by hand. Discard skins. Mash potatoes until almost smooth.

Heat 1 Tbs. oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds. Sauté for 15 seconds until they sizzle. Add chilis. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until chilis start to brown. Add garlic. Sauté 1-2 minutes until golden. Stir in garam masala, turmeric and remaining ½ tsp. salt. Add 1 Tbs. oil. Sauté 1 minute, then add potatoes and green onions. Stir until combined. Turn off heat. Stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Mix well. Taste. Stir in cayenne and additional salt as needed.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly grease paper with oil.

Take out the 2 pastry sheets. Lightly dust work surface with flour and unroll first sheet. Sprinkle a little flour on top. Use a rolling pin to lightly roll out into as square a shape as possible, roughly 8×8 or 9×9 inches. Cut into 4 equal sections as close to square as possible. Place ¼ cup filling in middle of each section. Using finger or pastry brush, brush water on the top of the outside edges of the section. Fold over one corner of the section up and over the filling. Tuck in the adjacent edge, then fold over the next corner, overlapping the first section and then tucking in the adjacent edge. Repeat until the filling is fully enclosed and totally sealed. Brush seams with water. Press seams, pinching together any weak spots. Place seam down on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining squares and second pastry sheet.

Brush tops and sides of knishes with beaten egg. Bake 28-30 minutes until golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving by themselves or with sauces.

Sauce suggestions:

Notes: Puff pastry comes in dairy and nondairy (parve) versions. Most brands weigh 17.3 to 18 oz. and come 2 sheets to a box. Adapt recipe as necessary. For vegan knishes, use parve pastry and brush lightly with oil instead of egg. You can remove seeds from chilis for milder filling.

Indo-Persian Spiced Potato Knishes (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Indo-Persian Spiced Potato Knishes (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is Contact her at [email protected].