Beetroot, lentil, squash and paneer spring rolls

This colourful spring roll recipe from Deena Kakaya contains burst of colour from beetroot and butternut squash, tempered by delicious homemade paneer. Richly spiced with chilli, curry leaves and turmeric, these pretty snacks would go down a storm at a Christmas party.

First published in 2015

During Christmas my family and I eat throughout the day, you know, to keep the energy up! There are no rules around the five- or seven-a-day count, or consideration of portion controls during the festive season, and indulgence is high on the agenda. The table is laid with abundance and variety, and as we chat, chase children and chuckle, we consume copious canapés like these pretty, seasonal and utterly moreish spring rolls. They are filled with soft pillows of homemade paneer, sweet beetroot and butternut squash, nutty lentils and spice. The surprise ingredient is a hint of orange, because it’s Christmas.

I would suggest making the paneer the night before you make the spring rolls, 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.





Spring rolls


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 spring rolls
Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5. Line a baking tray with baking parchment
Toss the chopped butternut squash with 1 tablespoon of the oil then spread out on the baking tray. Roast for approximately 30–40 minutes or until the squash is lightly crisp and soft enough to pierce with a knife
When cooked, add to a large bowl with the cooked lentils and beetroot, zest and juice of the orange, cubed paneer and desiccated coconut. Season with salt to taste then mix together
To temper the spices, heat a non-stick pan with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, then add the cumin seeds, curry leaves, chillies and turmeric. Allow the seeds to sizzle then transfer to the bowl with the rest of the fillings, tossing everything together to ensure even coverage of the spices
To prepare the spring rolls, fill a small bowl with water to help when wrapping the rolls. Cut each wrapper in half to create two rectangles
Leaving a 3cm border at the bottom and sides, place a dessertspoon of the filling towards the bottom of the wrapper. Fold the sides inwards, close the bottom panel over these, then roll up tightly in a cigar shape. Seal the end panel with a little water, and repeat with the rest of the mixture. Transfer to a plate and allow to firm up slightly before cooking
Preheat a deep-fryer or a deep pan with the vegetable oil
Carefully fry the spring rolls in batches until golden, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain any excess oil on sheets of kitchen paper before serving
First published in 2015

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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