Monday, 19 August 2013

Spinach and Chilli Straws with Yoghurt Dip

Last week, Indians celebrated their Independence Day and fortunately for all of us, August 15th fell on a Thursday. And that can only mean one thing.. an eagerly anticipated looong weekend!! Whether you took a much-needed vacation or you stayed at home, at some point over the weekend, you would have met up with family and friends.
There is something so relaxed and informal about lazy weekend brunches. It is about easy-going conversations, raucous laughter, good food and those simple pleasures that help you forget about that long list of pending things-to-do, even if its just for a few hours.
And then invariably, the 'remember when..' stories will start. Those timeless stories from your school or college days that have  already been repeated a million times. Not only have you heard them before, you probably were witness to the incident. And yet you laugh so hard, that by the end of the story, you are laughing and crying at the same time.
Helping those stories along are endless rounds of drinks and of course, the munchies that go with those drinks. Munchies in bowls that are conveniently placed on tables around you, so that you can reach out to them, without even realising it. Remember there is no place for dieters at weekend brunches!!
In that list of munchies, these spinach and chilli straws find a place. I found them in the 'Popina Book of Baking'. Isidora Popovic describes them as "crispy, fiery straws to die for with a glass of cold beer and a light dip." In other words, a perfect munchy!!
What caught my attention was the spice mix that she uses to flavour them with. It reminded me of the Methis Puris I had blogged about last year during Diwali. And the final product is almost like them, except with a different shape. Although, what Isidora's Serbian palate found fiery, my Indian palate found mild. If you can handle a bit of spice, I would recommend upping the red chilli content.
Else, these straws are crispy and the kind you will keep eating and then at some point, wonder why are you feeling so full that you can't eat another one. With the yoghurt dip, they are a perfect match to be washed down with a cold drink. The yoghurt dip is a favourite at home and can be had along with chips or even as a healthy filling for a sandwich.  
I hope you had a lovely weekend. Mine got the perfect ending, when a darling flatmate from University announced the birth of his beautiful, baby daughter. Parabens, meus amigos!! 

Spinach and Chilli Straws with Yoghurt Dip

Adapted from the 'Popina Book of Baking'

Makes approximately 20 5-inch straws

For the Spinach and Chilli Straws
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 125 gms fresh spinach
  • 110 gms plain flour
  • 45 gms unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon soda bi-carb
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon red chilli powder (If you are used to spicy food, I'd recommend 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Yoghurt Dip
  • 3/4 cup thick or Greek yoghurt
  • 1 small green capsicum, chopped into small cubes
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 1 spring onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon grated cheese
  • salt to taste

For the Spinach and Chilli Straws
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C. Prepare 1-2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  • Put the coriander powder, cumin powder and fennel seeds in a dry saucepan over medium heat and leave for a few minutes until they release their aroma and the seeds start popping. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Remove the stalks from the spinach leaves and wash thoroughly. Then blanch the spinach in a saucepan of boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain and squeeze out the excess water. Chop the spinach finely.
  • Put all the ingredients except the spinach in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles crumbs. Stir in the spinach and bring the dough together with your hands.
  • The dough will seem dry, add water. I added 2 tablespoons of water.
  • Transfer the dough on to a lightly floured work space and roll it out with a rolling pin until about 6mm thick.
  • With a sharp knife to cut the pastry into 1-cm wide straws.
  • Twist each one before spacing slightly apart on the baking sheet.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until browned.
  • Leave to cool and serve with a light dip such as the yoghurt dip given below.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

For the Yoghurt Dip
  • Mix all the ingredients and season with salt according to your taste.


  1. Oh, these straws would be great with the dip. Like the spinach addition, reminds me of deep fried teplas..

    1. yeah.. doesn't it.. it reminded me of those tiny puris .. just in a different shape. and like every other munchy.. you never realise how many u've had.. but that dip is a must try!!

  2. very nice - my kind of food ! They do these cheese straws here at bars I've seen often.. I prefer your spinach and spice version.

    1. When I saw these straws, I thought they would be a good alternative to regular cheese straws.. while making them, I realised they were nothing more than remodelled puris!! But it all works!! The book also had another recipe.. apple and cheese straws.. that should be interesting!!

  3. I don't know where to look, the spinach cheese straws or the minty drink that you served with it. This is amazing healthy looking snack for a relaxing evening.

    1. Thanks Balvinder!! the next time I make these I intend to make them with atta.. that will make them healthier!! and I cant recommend the drink enough.. its a mint lime cooler.. there's been a lull in the rains and its so humid and muggy.. the drink goes a long way!!

  4. This recipe is calling to me and I can't wait to try it!
    I love munching on straws and my kids do too but I have never made a spinach one! that needs to change real soon! and that yogurt dip sounds heavenly , thank you so much for sharing these Sarvani

    1. Thanks Sawsan!! :)) You never need a reason to enjoy munchies!!!

  5. what do you think of methi instead of spinach? hardly revolutionary but might give a more complex taste...

    1. Oh absolutely, you could substitute with methi.. in fact , these are a lot like the baked methi puris I had made last year for Diwali!! am pretty sure that if an Indian had written this recipe (instead of the Serbian Isidora), it would have had methi and be made with atta instead of maida!! :)

    2. well, tried these this evening and they got polished off in 20 min, so grand success. i used methi and it worked out well. also thought i'd crank it up a notch with some grated cheddar in the dough but the cheese flavors didnt really come out. i guess the methi flavor is pretty strong...

    3. Oh wow!!! that's super.. thanks for writing back Anoop! really appreciate it. I like the idea of grated cheddar.. but you are right.. better to remove the methi.. and then call them spicy cheese straws!!! In fact, in this book, she has another variation to this recipe where she uses cheese and apple..that too sounds interesting!!


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