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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Kill(ing) Samosas

I have no idea what I was thinking. My intentions were good.

I wanted to make an Indian feast for my hubby as a surprise. I was going to make vegetarian Baingan Bhartha served with a side of authentic Basamati Onion Rice, and for the appetizer, homemade Spicy Baked Potato Samosas.

All in under an hour.

I came this close to passing out.

At the end of the meal, there was flour in my hair, mashed potato on the floor, exploded eggplant in the microwave and enough curry floating in the air to make the entire Indian community in nearby Jamaica, New York salivate for the next three years.

Here is the big lesson - SAMOSAS ARE NOT EASY. BUT...even after I made them, I didn't feel discouraged. They were so good they were worth the challenge. And the process of making them is very fun.

I read a number of recipes on the web before I created mine. The biggest time saving trick was using frozen pizza dough versus homemade dough. I'm sorry, but that's gross. If there is one thing I've learned from years of cooking, is if there is an interesting recipe to be made, it's worth making it right.

Cooking is a joy, not a labor.

There is never, ever a substitute for homemade dough. And there is no excuse not to make it, since it's easy and the taste is unparalleled. How could a cook not want to make dough? The only reason is because they are impatient and wish to rush through the meal and get onto the next (Rachael Ray anyone?).

Samosas are amazing. Layers of taste, a wonderful bite to the curry and peas and potatoes, a tender, flaky crust and, as everyone who has eaten these knows, a marriage made in culinary heaven.

And the good part for my belly was that these have 75% less fat then deep-fried samosas and taste JUST as good!

I've never been skinny. I have tried for years to be as skinny, but it's never happened. I eat less, I run, run, run on the treadmill, I don't eat snacks or drink wine after a certain hour, but I still have this little tummy. My husband loves it, but my ego wants to be thinner.

One part of me knows being really thin and having people tell me I look good and skinny is my ego talking and I need to tell it to chill...but then their is another part of me who wants people to tell me I look good and say the immortal words, "Have you lost weight?!"

It's exhausting.

When our health is at risk, clearly, that is the time for dieting and exercise. I'm 15 pound overweight and need to get it off. But dear God, it's a pain in the ass.

Which brings me to the Samosas.

They are all potato and flour.

The recipe I'm going to give you makes 12. Most recipes make 24. But let's be very blunt, shall we? More than 2 or 3 of these is fattening, so you need to enjoy the 2 or 3 you have with a low-calorie meal. That is exactly what I did and it's what you must do to stay healthy but also enjoy your food.


What you'll need for the dough:
  • 1 cups unbleached all-purpose King Arthur flour, plus some to dust work surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoon plain yogurt, full fat or low-fat is fine - you can also use low-fat buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoon cold water
What you'll need for the filling:

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound russet potatoes (2 medium is fine), peeled and cut into equal sized cubes
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced small
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced small
  • 1 teaspoon diced fresh ginger, or 1/2 teaspoon ground
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
It's important you get 'seed' seasoning for the filling. They impart a truly authentic taste to the dish which is nearly impossible to duplicate. Trust me - you want to use these ingredients.


First thing is first - cook the potatoes. Get out a big pot, add the peeled and diced potatoes and cover with COLD water. Why cold? Because starting with cold results in more even cooking with the potatoes.

It's true! I don't make this shit up.

Get the water to a roiling boil over medium-high heat, then reduce and simmer potatoes until fork tender - about 13 minutes. If you can press the tines of a fork into the potato, it's done!

While the potatoes cook, measure our your spices and put into a small bowl and set nearby. Put the bit of butter on top of the spices in the side bowl.

Cut up your onion, put in a side bowl.

Cut up your garlic and ginger, put in a side bowl.

You want to DRAIN THE POTATOES BUT DON'T RINSE THEM before you proceed.

Drain the potatoes, put in a bowl.

Now heat the oil in a large, 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-heat for 1 minute.

Throw in the spices. Cook 1 minute.


Throw in the onion with a dash of salt. Cook, cook, cook for 5 or 6 minutes. Try not to brown the onion.

Add the garlic and ginger; cook 2 minutes.

Now throw in those damn potatoes and cook them slowly until they start to brown. Most recipes I read said it takes 5 minutes. Yea, whatever. It took me, like, 20 to get them to show a nice caramel color. You want this for a tasty filling, so don't rush this. Cook until they are nicely browned.

Stir in your peas.

You did it!

You made Samosa filling!!

Now comes the totally annoying part (but it's worth it).

Cover the potatoes up and put in the fridge to cool at least 1 hour. If you can make the potatoes up to 2 days before you actually assemble them you will be SO much happier. Some sort of bizarre alchemy occurs when potatoes sit in the fridge for a few days. They become very very tasty.

Don't argue with me on this. I'm right. I'm Irish. I can cook potatoes in my sleep.

The next day, you are ready to assemble the Samosas

Let's cook!

For the dough -- mix the flour and the salt together in a large bowl. Drizzle in the oil. Either by hand or with six or seven pulses on a food processor, mix the flour/salt combo with the oil until it is a coarse cornmeal.

Now, add the yogurt or the buttermilk and mix until it's combined.

Working slowly, add one tablespoon at a time (max of 3) of COLD water (very important - must be cold) with the mixture until it comes together into a slightly moist large ball.

By hand, it takes about ten minutes. By food processor, keep the motor running with the flour mixture inside and add one tablespoon at a time to the funnel until it all comes together.

Now flatten out the dough into a round disc (like a giant hockey puck), wrap in plastic and refrigerate for one hour at least. I know, annoying, but it's WORTH IT.

After at least one hour, take out the potatoes and the dough. Put the potatoes aside.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Spray a rimmed jelly-roll baking sheet with Pam Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil spray and put aside.

Here is what you do - you separate the dough into six equal pieces.

Clear a space so you can roll out the dough. Flour your work surface and a rolling pin and roll out each piece of dough to FIVE INCHES WIDE.

It's very important you roll it out to five inches - why? Because you need it big enough to fit in all the potatoes!

Once you've rolled them out into five inch circles, cut them down the center so you a half-moon sided piece.

Now - wet the CUT SIDE OF THE HALF-MOON with a tiny bit of water from a wet fingertip.

Fold the dough over the other and crimp the edges of the dough so you make a small POCKET.

Handle the dough carefully since it will be a bit fragile. Now, fill with 1-2 tablespoons of the potato filling and fold over the top, wetting as you do and crimping the dough. Make sure all of the filling is inside and none is poking out.

Do this for the 12 pieces. This part makes me very happy.

Don't give up! You're almost there!

Now, most people fry them at this point. I'm trying to LOSE my belly, not gain more of it, so I refuse to fry them.

And to make these taste you really DON'T need to fry the suckers. Christ, their fattening enough!

Put them on the jelly-roll sheet, spray with a bit of the Pam spray, toss into the oven and cook for 15 minutes, turning once as you do to make sure they are not browning too quickly.

I served this with a rather bland Baingan Bhartha with microwaved eggplant I have yet to perfect. Once I figure that recipe out, I'll post it on this blog.

There endless possibilities with this meal. Whatever you decide to pair this with, make sure you always, always, ALWAYS hand out Major Grey Mango Chutney! It is a heavenly combination.


Until next time!

Bon appetit!

1 comment:

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