February 10, 2011

Vegetable Samosas

I was recently discussing Indian food on one of my favorite cooking message boards, Cookaholics Bulletin Board, and asked if anyone had a good recipe for vegetable samosas.  Juli and I love samosas, but I'd not yet found a good recipe for them.  One of the board members posted links to two recipes at the Canadian Living website, including this one.  My thanks to jeanf, because thanks to her recommendation I now have a good recipe for samosas.

I made a few adjustments to the Canadian Living recipe, to reflect my and Juli's tastes.  I think the as-written recipe will probably work fine, except that you'll almost certainly have to add a bit more than the suggested amount of liquid to get the dough to come together.   The version posted below reflects my changes to the Canadian Living recipe.

I really enjoyed making this recipe.  In one of the early steps, fragrant spices are fried in a few tablespoons of oil. This both enhances the of the spices and flavors the oil so the oil transfers the flavors evenly to and through the other fried ingredients.  Beyond that, the scent of the frying spices was wonderful.  That was the point when I knew these were going to be really, really good.  Each additional step just confirmed that.

Put simply, these are as good as any samosas we've ever had, and a lot better than most.  The thin, flaky crust surrounds a moist, tasty, fragrant mix of vegetables and spices.  Every mouthwatering bite delivers a combination of crunchy pastry and steaming-hot vegetables.  Samosas are usually served and eaten as an appetizer, but these Vegetable Samosas are hearty enough that a few of them of them would make for a satisfying, light meal.   I will definitely be making these again, probably often. 

Vegetable Samosas

yield = approx. 24 samosas

2             cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4       teaspoons cumin seed + 1 teaspoon
1/2          teaspoon table salt + 1/2 teaspoon
1/2          cup chilled butter
1/2          cup + 1 tablespoon milk
2             cups diced, peeled potatoes
3/4          cup diced, peeled carrots
3             tablespoons vegetable oil + additional for frying
1 1/4       teaspoons brown or black mustard seed
1             teaspoon ground fennel seed
3/4          teaspoon ground coriander
3/4          teaspoon ground fenugreek seed
1/2          teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4          teaspoon cayenne pepper
1             onion, minced
2             tablespoons fresh, peeled and grated ginger
2             teaspoons minced garlic
1/2          teaspoon table salt
3/4          cup frozen peas
3             tablespoons lemon juice
2             tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

In a food processor, combine flour, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and salt.  Pulse in butter until the mixture forms fine crumbs.  Pulse in 1/2 cup milk.    Remove dough from the food processor bowl and knead in additional milk 1 teaspoon at a time until the dough forms into a coherent ball.  Press into a disc, wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Add potatoes and carrots to a saucepan and cover with water.  Cook 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

Heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Fry mustard seed, 1 1/4 teaspoon cumin seed, fennel, coriander, fenugreek, turmeric and cayenne for about 1 minute or until the cumin seeds start to pop.  Add onion and fry until it just starts to brown (about 4 minutes).  Add ginger, garlic and salt and fry until the onion is well-browned, about 2 more minutes.  Stir in potato mixture, peas, lemon juice and cilantro.  Transfer to a bowl to cool.

Cut the dough into 12 pieces and form each into a flat round.  On floured surface, roll out each dough piece into a circle, approx 6 inches across.  Cut each circle in half.   One at a time, form each dough semi-circle into a cone, pressing the edges together and sealing with water (see picture below). 

Fill each cone with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the potato mixture.  Moisten the open edge of the pastry and press together to seal. 

Heat about 3 cups of oil in a Dutch oven to 350 degrees.

Fry the samosas in batches of 4 or 5 at a time, adding each one individually using tongs, a slotted spoon or a wok strainer.  Fry until golden-brown, about 4 minutes, flipping after about 3 minutes.  Remove to a tray or plate lined with paper towels.  Serve warm with chutneys of choice.

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