My Diwali Traditions Living in the US

Living in the US for over 20 years now and also being part of an interfaith family, our Diwali celebrations are very different from how they used to be for me while growing up. However, I still enjoy the festival with the same excitement and enthusiasm, right here in my home away from home! Similar to how I adopted new American traditions or incorporated the Christmas celebrations that my husband grew up with, our Diwali festivities have also evolved over time. 

Baked Chicken Kheema Spring Rolls

Today, Diwali traditions are not centered around waking up early on the first day, Naraka Chaturdashi, or preparing the classic Diwali faral at home. Instead, it’s all about coming together with our family and close friends on the weekend around the actual Diwali days, enjoying delicious Indian foods, lighting up sparklers, and playing cards. One thing that remains unchanged, however, is the significance of Padwa and Bhaubeej, the fourth and fifth days of Diwali.

Baked Chicken Kheema Spring Rolls

Diwali Padwa

The Diwali holiday spans over 5 days, and in Maharashtra, where I am from, the fourth day, Padwa, is dedicated to the celebration of the bond between a husband and wife. It symbolizes the love and devotion between the couple and holds a special significance for their relationship. My husband and I celebrate this day in our own unique way, regardless of when it falls during the week. We exchange gifts, usually something small and not too elaborate, and I make Padwa special for him by preparing his favorite dish, Baked Chicken Kheema Spring Rolls!

Baked Chicken Kheema Spring Rolls

An Idea to use Leftover Kheema

I made these last-minute for Padwa one year, using leftovers – chicken kheema and spring roll wrappers that were sitting in my refrigerator. I spontaneously decided to combine the two in a quick recipe. It turned out wonderfully and became a perfect handmade and homemade gift for my husband! He loved them so much that I now prepare a special batch of kheema just so I can make these spring rolls for him or for entertaining guests. They’re a hit with everyone!

Baked Chicken Kheema Spring Rolls

A Healthy Recipe with Many Variations

Over time, I found a smart balance and started baking them in the oven instead of deep frying. Changing the technique actually improved the recipe! Baking in the oven at high temperatures for a good 15-20 minutes intensified the flavor of the kheema and lightened up the wrapper, making it crispier and crunchier. Of course, you can always deep fry them if you prefer or if it’s easier and quicker for you, and you can also experiment with the filling, just like I do. I have made them with a variety of kheemas – lamb, turkey, beef, or pork, and I’ve even turned them vegetarian by filling them with mushroom kheema or the classic samosa filling. Whatever filling you use, I promise these fusion spring rolls are going to win everyone’s hearts! I’ve linked a short video below that I put together for you that you can follow and easily whip up this signature concoction in your own kitchen.

Baked Chicken Kheema Spring Rolls
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Baked Chicken Kheema Spring Rolls


  • Author: Vasanti
  • Yield: Makes 6

Description

An healthy appetizer recipe made with chicken kheema, stuffed in spring rolls wrappers and baked in the oven.


Ingredients

Scale

For the filling

  • 1/2 lb ground chicken thighs (see Variations)
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil of choice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp asafetida
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste (alternatively use 2 cloves garlic, grated + 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, grated)
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 medium tomato, pureed
  • 1/4 cup of green peas (fresh or frozen) (optional)

For the Spring Rolls

  • spring roll wrappers (see Variations)
  • water, for sealing the rolls
  • cooking spray or neutral cooking oil, for brushing

Instructions

Making the Filling

  • In a deep sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat and add in the cumin seeds. To make the sauce, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium pot or saucepan  over medium heat. When the oil starts shimmering, add the cumin seeds and asafetida. When the seeds sizzle and the asafetida froths, add the onion. Sprinkle the mixture with some salt to help the onion soften. Sauté the onion over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring it frequently, until it is golden brown.
  • Stir in the ginger and garlic and sauté the mixture for 1 minute. Add the turmeric, ground cumin, coriander and garam masala. Sauté the mixture for 30 seconds to let the spices bloom.
  • Mix in the tomatoes along with the reserved marinade and stir to combine the ingredients. Cook the mixture for 5 minutes over medium heat, until the tomatoes lose most of their moisture. Add the water and stir to combine it with the other ingredients. Adjust the seasonings if needed.
  • Add the ground chicken to the onion-tomato mixture in the pan along with the peas and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low heat for 10 mins till the ground meat is cooked. Uncover and continue to cook for another 5 minutes till most of the moisture has evaporated, making it into more of a dry-sauce dish. Stir in the cilantro. 

Making the Spring Rolls

  • Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.
  • Arrange one egg roll wrapper on a clean work surface (keep the remaining egg roll wrappers covered with a damp paper towel).
  • Spoon a couple of tablespoons of the prepared kheema filling in the bottom third of the wrapper. Use a pastry brush to brush water along the edges of the wrapper. Pick up the corner of the wrapper closest to you and wrap it up and over the filling. Fold the two sides in, similarly to a burrito, then continue rolling from the bottom to create a roll. (see Notes)
  • Place the rolls on a parchment paper or aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Spray them lightly with cooking spray or brush lightly with oil. 
  • Bake the rolls in the oven for 10 minutes.Take them out and flip them. Continue baking for another 5-10 minutes until both sides of the rolls are golden brown and crisp.
  • Serve warm along with some Mint-Yogurt Chutney as a dip. 

Keywords: Healthy Recipes, Baking Recipes, Diwali Special

Step-by-Step Details

Recipe FAQ’s and Notes

Refrigerate upto 3 Hours

Once the rolls are stuffed, you can place them on the baking sheet and refrigerate for up to 3 hours.

Freeze and use upto 3 Months

You can also freeze them individually for about 3 hours and then pack in a freezer safe bag and freeze for up to 3 months. To bake, do not thaw. Simply place frozen rolls on a baking sheet and bake per the recipe.

Recipe Variations

You can substitute ground chicken thighs with breast meat or ground lamb, turkey, beef, or pork.

Make it vegetarian by substituting ground chicken with crumbled paneer.

Make it vegan by substituting ground chicken with crumbled tofu, minced mushrooms or mashed boiled potatoes.

If you can’t find spring roll wrappers, you can substitute with wonton wrappers that are available in the refrigerated section of grocery stores. Place a tablespoon of the filling in the center of a wonton wrapper. Lightly brush the edges of the wrapper with water. Fold one side of the wrapper over to form a half-moons if using a round wrapper or to form a triangle if using a square wrapper. Press the edges together gently, making sure the seam is securely closed, so the filling does not fall out. Bake per the recipe.

Happy cooking
Vasanti

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Hi I’m Vasanti
…and I ❤️cooking ‘n clicking!!
I share a modern take on Indian cuisine made using nontraditional techniques and ingredients, while staying true to its authenticity. You’ll also find classic recipes from my beloved Maharashtrian culture and heritage.



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