Monday, February 14, 2011

Please sir, I want samosas!

Here is a shout out to my cousin who suggested I make samosas, and to another friend who suggested I make something Vegan. While this is more vegetarian than vegan, this is a lot closer to vegan than my usual food. My feeling on samosas is that they are wonderful: A savory filling spiced with curry and then wrapped in a thin, and ideally home made, pastry dough. So of course, I opted to do this rather than purchasing filo dough, which was another option. Overall a good experience, there were lessons learned and I look forward to doing it again soon. Perhaps after a week of running.

The recipe came from With a URL like that it has to be good right? I aimed to find out this last Sunday, and I managed to do it all without leaving the house!

Here's most of the mise en place for the filling:

One potato,
One carrot (I used two since they were rather small ones)
An onion
Frozen peas (I couldn't believe we actually had a partial bag in the house)
Vegetable oil
Curry powder

 And here is the culprit that makes this dish not vegan - chicken stock. The recipe called for vegetable stock, but we had chicken stock on hand, frozen from the freezer. Here I am putting it over low heat for a bit to start the melting process.
 Next the veg needs to be diced finely. I think I did a pretty good job cutting potatoes into cubes here!

 I diced these up too.

I forgot to take pictures of a diced onion and garlic, but those ingredients are tossed into pan over medium high heat with some vegetable oil to brown up, then two teaspoons of the curry powder, or whatever spice you are using.  Already I could smell the potential of the dish. 

Things start to come together as you add the rest of the veg. I started off with the potatoes as I felt they might need a little more cooking down.

Then the carrots and a cup of frozen peas. This is tossed with some salt and pepper. I will strongly suggest that you err on the side of lightness of salting here for a number of reasons. The cooked down vegetables will have a more concentrated flavor than an initial taste will indicate, there will be salt in the pastry, and there's possibly salt in your stock. 

The recipe says to cover and simmer for half an hour, but I found 25 minutes to be more than enough. Though that may be due to my not quite airtight lid and cast iron pan combination.

Here is the goodness after its all done. 

Next comes the samosa pastry. I actually got fancy here and measured out the proscribed 225 grams of flour. That is approximately 1.8 cups of all purpose flour, or two cups with a few tablespoons pulled out might work just as well.

Put it into a bowl and drizzle in the two tablespoons of vegetable oil and a nice pour of warm water. This is more of an art, but you want it to just pull together into a firm, slightly tacky mass. 80 mils, which is maybe around 5-6 tablespoons of warm water.

Take the mass and give it a good kneading. I did this for about 5 minutes until it smoothed out.

 The finished product is then rolled into a ball and wrapped in plastic for half an hour.

And here we are, filling and pastry ready to be transformed into samosas. I recommend you make all of the samosas before beginning the frying process, which I did not. I was far too hungry to wait, and I thought that I'd be able to juggle making and frying at the same time. I was reasonably successful, but I think I would have been more successful being able to devote all of my time to the attention of each step.

Divide the dough in half, then divide each of those halves into 6 small balls.

 Which you must then roll into 15 cm circles.
 Trust me, for the first few, get a ruler, and perhaps keep these whole as a model for your next roll outs. I made a significantly smaller circle and the resulting samosa nugget will not be displayed on this blog.

Each circle of pastry is then cut in half. Then brush warm water onto the straight edge (a finger works fine)..

 And folded in half, pressing to create a seam. A fork makes the work speedy and attractive! I found that stuffing was easily done in a manner I will attempt to describe awkwardly here.

Keep the thumb inside the pastry like so, then pick up the cone with all your fingers, supporting it on your fingers, now palm up. You can take out your thumb and spoon in the mixture, and use your thumb to press it in! You can then lay it back on the cutting board to seal with the fork.
 Here are some of my rather clumsy samosas ready to be fried. So innocent and pure!
 Ah, well I believe my oil was a bit on the hot side, and don't forget that hot oil will continue to cook the samosa even after pulling them out. Plus with the juggling of duties it just wasn't the proper way to do things. So learn from me and definitely pay attention and err on the paler side of golden brown.

Still, I'm not going to complain at all about this attempt. The samosas were crisp, with a slightly chewy wrap that revealed a wonderfully soft and savory filling with an easy bite. An absolutely great appetizer to go with beer by the way.

All in all, I consider this a highly successful first shot at a recipe. I've learned a bit about the practice of seasoning, the importance of planning and enjoyed quite a delicious appetizer. It was a pretty great Sunday.

Thank you and please keep on following my adventures in cookery!

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