Rose harissa, parsnip and paneer puff pastry plait

  • medium
  • 2
  • 2 hours 30 minutes
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Deena Kakaya serves up a beautiful puff pastry plait, a stunning centrepiece for a special occasion. Included are an extra special rose harissa recipe as well as a homemade paneer recipe.

First published in 2015

For me, a wintry main dish should be one that tickles all the senses; a bit of heat to stoke the internal flames, a little sweetness to lift the fog and some light and easy depth to satisfy the heart. What better way than to wrap it all in pastry? Homemade paneer tastes fabulous when heated through and even more so with the rose-scented harissa and sweet roasted parsnips that this pastry plait holds.

When making the paneer, I would suggest making it the night before you make the plaits, to allow the paneer enough time to set. It is important to use full fat milk, as any other milk will not contain enough fat. You will need a piece of tightly woven fabric such as muslin or handkerchief material for making the paneer, as this separates the curds from the whey – you can reserve the whey and use it to thicken curry bases.




  • 2 sheets of puff pastry, ready-rolled
  • 250g of parsnip, peeled and cut into 3cm cubes
  • 1 tbsp of oil

Paneer cheese (makes approx. 150g)

Rose harissa


Start by making the paneer. In a non-stick pan, heat the milk until it starts to boil. Turn down to a simmer and then add the lemon juice – the milk should start to curdle with large clumps that look like cottage cheese starting to appear. Turn off the heat and allow the acidic reaction to fully separate the curds and whey (this should take about 10 minutes)
Meanwhile, line a colander with muslin and place in an empty sink. Pour the milk mixture into the muslin and then tie the loose ends of cloth together to form a package, then squeeze out any excess liquid. Place something heavy (like a saucepan) on top of the wrapped paneer and allow it to set overnight
Once set, unwrap the muslin cloth and cut the paneer into 2–3cm cubes before starting the plaits
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3
Spread out the tomatoes, cut-side up, and garlic cloves on a large baking tray and roast in the oven for 40 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool
Increase the oven temperature to 180°C/gas mark 4
Toss the parsnips in the oil then spread out on a large baking tray. Roast for 30 minutes, or until crisp on the outside and tender when pierced with a knife. Set aside to cool
When ready to assemble the plaits, remove the pastry sheets from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature for 10 minutes
Place the roasted tomatoes and garlic in a blender or food processor with the remaining harissa ingredients and blitz to a paste
Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6
Lay a piece of baking paper flat on the work surface and place one of the sheets of pastry on top. Cut off the top two corners with a sharp knife. Leave the central rectangle clear for the filling, then cut horizontal strips down either side (so you have about six or seven strips fanning out from the centre)
Fill the centre with half of the harissa, roasted parsnips and paneer. Criss-cross the strips over the filling in the middle to form a plait down the centre, then fold in the top and bottom edges to seal. Transfer to a baking tray then repeat with the second sheet of pastry and remaining fillings
Bake in the preheated oven for 30–40 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden

Deena is a food writer with work published in UK magazines such as BBC Good Food, Delicious, Cook Veg and Fork.

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