Monday, August 30, 2010

Samosas, not Samoas.

I often get asked to bring appetizers to my in-law type gatherings. I think it all started when I was put randomly in charge and as I looked for a good holiday type appetizer I came across a recipe in like Good Housekeeping or Family World or something like that and it was a huge hit.

The recipe was for a shallot, fig and goat cheese thing on crustini, so everyone, except my husband's youngest sister loved it, and ever since then I'm often designated to something to keep the kids out of the main meals.

My father in law, my husband, his brother, his oldest sister and his younger sister to an extent are all ingredient pickers. They march into the kitchen, hang out and grab things off the cutting board or straight out of the pan. It can be aggravating as you cut enough of something and they all march through and take one or two, and then you need to cut more!

They also eat pasta. Dry, hard, raw, uncooked pasta. And dough. I'm making bread, muffins, cookies, doesn't matter, everyone needs a scoop of dough. To make matters worse my brother in law's girlfriend is also a dough eater, another person, just munchin' down my dough.

Over the years I have tried to come up with the perfect samosa recipe. I love these little fried dumplings, and while I know, yes fried things are delicious, I really like these. They're salty and spicy and you dip them in sweet chutney. So marvelous. I've tried everything for the wrapper from philo dough to strudel dough and tortillas. I worked with a gal for a while who was from India, or nearby and she made the best samosas, and she said she just used tortillas, but they never work for me. They don't fold, they don't work right. I have decided that the thing to do is to make your own tortillas and then instead of dry frying them, deep fry them.

As it turns out, whether or not this is correct, it IS delicious. I tried a couple variations on my dough, and I've come to the conclusion that you do need some masa, and really you should head for pie dough, and not for a mixed dough.

I normally don't fry anything. I fry maybe once every two years. This year is special as I've had things fried in my house twice now. I don't like to fry mostly because of the smell and the mess. I like my subway tile pristine, and the top of my stove to be gleaming white. I strongly dislike all the tiny droplets of oil that get all over everything, including the floor. However once in a while you have to fry, but it's really not a regular option in my kitchen, what with the lingering smell and all. Oh, another point of contention. It's not healthy. I don't give a rat's batooskie what the article in Cooking Light said. I've read them all and they all say 'if properly done, deep fried food's really not that bad for you.' WRONG! No, you've taken that item and submerged it in hot oil. There is NO WAY that food is now good for you. You notice the choice of words "not that bad". That's right, it's still not good for you, just less bad. If you have a fry daddy at home, perhaps you should reevaluate your cooking methods to something that doesn't involve you 'saving your frying oil.'

I was watching Paula Dean, who I love, and she spent a long time about how to care for your frying oil. I was kind of confused, because oil goes rancid after a few months, and with the infrequency of my frying, well why am I saving it? No, I just buy new oil every time. Another thing I dislike about frying: what do I do with the oil when I'm done? How do I get rid of that? I feel like it should go into compost, or I should contact someone who makes bio-diesel. "Hello, I have two cups of used cooking oil, would you like it?"

Normally when you make samosas you also make mint and tamarind chutney. I love these two chutneys, they are amazing. Tamarind chutney is also really easy to make, however on this day I did not have tamarind hanging about. I did remember that my mom had given me a chutney (peach and mango) that she had made a few years ago, and she told me it would 'be good with chicken'. I don't think she thought it was very good. Or she doesn't know how to properly apply the deliciousness contained within the jar. I opened it up, tested it, and was like hooray! Winner! It was sweet, yet had lots of cinnamon and strong spices in it. Not spicy hot, so the proper application for samosas. I apologize for not being able to tell you what she did, I can only tell you that it was great.

You might have to make the dough mixture more than once. Also you are going to need a tortilla press for this. I know you can magically pat out tortillas by hand, but I am not a magical Hispanic lady who's been doing it all my life. I am in fact a gringo, and need tortilla press help. One hint for your press, get a ziplock bag and cut it open, then press the dough into that. It works really well, and makes the whole process totally painless.

Patty's Samosas


3-4 russet potatoes
3 Tbs garham masala
1 tsp. turmeric
2 green Thai chilies
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. grapeseed oil
1/2 C. organic green peas
1 Tbs. kosher salt

3 C. King Arthur All purpose flour
1 C. tortilla masa
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 C. grapeseed oil

Oil for frying


Get your oil ready, it should bubble when you drop a pinch of dough in it.

In a large pot of water put your peeled and diced potatoes and turmeric to boil until the potatoes are soft and tender. Drain and set aside. In a pan bring the oil and butter to melt, and when the butter is no longer foaming add the garham masala, chili, onion and salt. Cook for a minute then add the potatoes and lightly mash. Stir in the peas. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a bowl combine the flour, masa and baking powder. Stir well and add the salt and oil. Then add just enough water to bring the dough together. Be careful not to over mix, think pie dough. Knead the dough maybe once or twice to ensure it's mixed well.

Pinch off a bit of dough about the size of a golf ball. Place this in the tortilla press and press flat. Peel off and set on a floured surface. Place a Tbs of potato mixture in the middle of your dough and shape to a triangle. Pinch up two sides to halfway down, then pinch up the remaining side to form a triangle.


When you have six or so triangles place into your hot oil, over medium high heat, think like placing pieces of pie, so you can fit six or so pieces in your pan at once. Cook for 5-7 minutes on the first side, or until they are crispy and golden brown. Turn over and cook for a further five minutes. Drain on towels and serve warm with chutney.

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