Pronouncement of the day: food is proof that we’re all connected more deeply than we know.
Take the samosa, the quintessential Indian snack: deep fried triangular pastries, stuffed with a savory concoction of potato, vegetables and sometimes, meat. Nothing says 4 o’clock in an Indian house quite like a steaming cup of tea, and a plate of fresh samosas. Oh dear, now I’ve done it. Excuse me whilst I get glassy-eyed and drool all over the keyboard.
Ahem, back to my “pronouncement”… doesn’t the samosa bear a striking resemblance to the Cornish pasty?
To the empanada?
To the calzone? The knish? The chinese baked dumplings?
When I decided to make my own samosas, I faced quite a quandary: heat up a messy, dangerous vat of oil to deep-fry the buggers, OR come up with a flaky, crispy baked samosa dough that mimics its deep-fried cousin. I chose the latter. I don’t know why. I’m not a baker. I don’t knead. I don’t roll out dough. Call me crazy, but dough intimidates me!
And yet, I’m crazy soooo… last week, I tried out 6 different kinds of dough.
Everything from readymade filo/phyllo sheets, to crescent roll dough… from simple flour and water, to intricate shortcrust pastry.
And that is why I can tell you in full confidence that this is the best baked samosa dough you’ll find. ‘Cos I looked guys. And nothing compared to this one. It’s simple: flour, buttermilk, vegetable oil. It comes together in a flash, and I promise, you can’t mess it up. With a little effort, you get a beautiful soft, fair pastry, flecked with tiny ajwain seeds (akin to oregano in flavour, and available at your Indian market. You can sub with cumin, or forgo it altogether), which flakes just so, and crusts up just wonderfully in the oven. Plus, if you make your own dough, you know what’s going in there, unlike the list of ingredients in the ready-made dough, which left me dizzy.
Oh, and the filling. The FILLING!
Potato, chicken, mango, chipotle, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cilantro and lime.
This filling makes you grateful that you have taste buds.
Plus, when you throw a tea party to show off your baked goodies, it also makes you incredibly grateful for goofy, warm, generous friends who will show up at your party even if you’ve only given them a couple of days notice…
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour (you can use 1 cup all-purpose flour if you prefer)
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable/canola oil
Big pinch salt
1/2 tsp. ajwain seeds (optional)
1 big russet potato, boiled until soft
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, poached and shredded
1 mango, finely diced
Zest of 1 lime, plus juice of half of it
5 tbsp chipotle sauce
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
Big handful cilantro, minced
Salt and pepper
1) To make pastry: In large bowl, combine flours, buttermilk, oil, salt and ajwain seeds. Bring ingredients together into a dough. Knead for 5 minutes until it has softened a bit. Allow to rest, at room temperature, for 15 minutes. You can put this in the fridge too, but make sure you let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes or so, in order for it to soften.
2) Make filling: Combine all ingredients with your hands until it’s well mixed up. Taste for seasoning. Set aside.
3) When it’s rolling time, preheat oven to 425 degrees f.
4) Roll the dough into a short cylinder. Slice into two. Slice each half into two, so you have 4 bits. Roll each bit into a ball. Flatten ball into a disc, then, on floured surface, roll into a 1/8″ thick, 7″ wide circle. Cut into two semi-circles.
5) Place a tablespoon or so of filling in the center of one of the semi-circles. Have a small bowl of water handy. Dip your finger in the water and run it along the edges of the semi-circle. Arrange semi-circle so the flat side is facing away from you. Grab the left corner and fold it over dough in a triangular motion, so that this corner lands on the bottom right side of the filling. Do the same with the other corner. (see video for better illustration!). Squeeze bottom shut, and fold over, sealing with water. If you like, seal using a fork. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Repeat, until you have 8 big samosas ready for baking!
6) Bake for 15 minutes at 425, then turn heat down to 375 and bake 10 more minutes. You can flip them over just before you turn the heat down if you like.
7) Serve hot, with the chutney… and bask in gratitude for the great ideas we all come up with, for our sensitive tastebuds and for the blessing of good friends!