I must admit I’m a big fan of Indian food. I suspect I’ve told you this before and … will probably say it again next time I blog about Indian food. And because most of India is in the hot zone of climate – I’m sure I’ve said this before – much of their food is spicy as is the food of most countries and ethnicities in the hot climes.
What also has always intrigued me is how similar certain types of foods are in so many different cultures – how our ancestors, as they traveled the world, took their native foods and recreated them with the ingredients that were available in their new homelands.
Every culture has a form of Jewish Matzo Balls – dumplings of flour or potato in Europe, rice balls in Japan; bao in China; egg rolls here – spring rolls in China and Viet Nam, lumpia in the Philippines; empanadas in Mexico – keplach in the Jewish culture, ravioli in Italy; won-tons in China and samosa in India. I’ll bet if you look into your own family’s food history, you can find more of the same kinds of foods with a different history.
Samosas are usually served as an appetizer – often with pakoris, another deep fried appetizer. Chutney and yoghurt are used for dipping sauces. Samosas are made in 3 shapes, a half-moon (like the empanada), or a triangle (like the kreplach or won-tons) or sometime in pyramid-shape but these are harder so not seen as often.
Basically, they are dough, stuffed with a vegetable mixture (occasionally meat but the Indians eat very little meat), and usually deep fried. They can be baked and the recipe I’m giving you is for the baked version, but you can deep fry in peanut or corn oil at 375 if you want to. Be sure the oil is kept at that temperature so don’t put too many in at a time and drain them well on paper towels to get rid of as much of the oil as possible.
- 3-1/2 c flour (preferably unbleached)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 c salad oil
- 1/2 c water
- 3 medium potatoes
- 1 lb. ground lamb or chicken
- 2 Tbsp. red pepper oil
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 3/4 c peas
- 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
- 2 finely chopped serrano chilies
- 1/4 c finely chopped cilantro
- 3 Tbsp. water
- 4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. garam masala **
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. white pepper
- 3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water (egg wash)
Sift the flour and salt together, then add the oil. Mix forming a coarse meal. Add water and knead into a smooth, stiff ball. Cover and set aside for about 45 minutes.
Boil the potatoes until tender. Allow to cool to room temperature. Peel and cut into coarse dice. Heat the pepper oil in a large non-stick or sprayed sauce pan. Add the lamb (or chicken) and brown, breaking meat up into small pieces. Add the potatoes and onions and cook 3 minutes. Add the peas, ginger, chilies, cilantro, water, all seasonings and lime juice. Bring to the boil and simmer until all moisture has boiled off. Watch so that it doesn’t burn. Cool completely.
Preheat oven to 325. Line baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper.
Divide the dough into 20 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 6” circle. Place equal amounts of filling in each round, fold in half, and crimp edges to seal. You might want to use a bit of the egg wash to help ‘glue’ the edges together before crimping. If you do, only moisten one side, not both! Place on a prepared baking sheet, leaving space all around so they don’t touch. They don’t rise, but you don’t want them stuck together.
With a pastry brush, brush top and sides of each samosa with some of the egg wash so they will have a shiny crust. Bake for 30-35 minutes until nicely browned. Cool on racks if not serving immediately. Best served warm, not hot. (You don’t want anyone to burn their tongues!)
** Garam Masala is a blend of spices you can buy at your neighborhood Savory Spice Shop. “Garama” means “hot” so generally speaking, this is a ‘hot’ spice, especially when combined with the other chilies and peppers in the recipe. You can make your own Garam Masala as follows (keep it a glass jar, tightly closed, away from light and heat).
- 1 Tbsp. ground cumin (aka coriander seeds)
- 2 tsp. turmeric
- 2 tsp. ground ginger (powder)
- 1/2 tsp EACH ground black pepper and ground white pepper
- 1-1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp. EACH ground cloves, allspice, ground bay leaves and ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Grind all together in a spice grinder.
(Now you see why I buy mine when I need it!)
Serve hot with chutney, plan Greek-style yogurt and make this the start of an Indian dinner. PS: Beer – especially the IPA beers – go particularly well with Indian food! This recipe makes 20 and you can make a meal of them; serves 4 as an entrée!