For the past few months I’ve been having a serious preoccupation with wrapped food, by which I mean food encased in a dough or pastry filling. As comforting as it is to sit wrapped up in a blanket on the couch, it is even more comforting to eat food wrapped up, while wrapped up on the couch.
It all began with a desire to make shrimp and pork wontons at home. The happiness of seeing the transformation of dry raw dumplings into plump darlings swimming in clear broth propelled me to make more more more…from there it was beef pot stickers, then onto potato and cheese perogies, and now…veggie samosas! While the packages have gotten bigger, it has all been delicious. And it is always a delight to have to bite into something to reveal its clandestine contents; somehow green peas retain more appeal when they are nestled in a pastry crust than rolling around on a plate.
If your time is limited, the filing for the samosa is excellent on its own, but definitely far more magical when baked in pastry.
Chickpea and Potato Veggie Samosas
2-3 smallish medium white or red potatoes
2-3 spindly carrots
Some vegetable oil
1/2 small onion
About a teaspoon each of cumin seeds, fennel seeds, black mustard seeds, cayenne pepper, garam masala, turmeric
A few neem/curry leaves
A handful of frozen green peas
A can of chickpeas
A bundle of fresh cilantro leaves
1.5 cups unsalted butter, cold
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
Some cold water
First, get some water in a medium saucepan and start heating it to a boil. Meanwhile, peel and cube the potatoes. Peel and finely dice the carrots too. When the water is at a boil, drop the potatoes and carrots in and cook until they are just cooked (even a little firm still is good). Meanwhile, finely dice the onion and fry in a large pan in a good glug of vegetable oil. When the onions start to soften, add all the spices and neem leaves. At this point the potatoes/carrots are probably done. Drain them and throw them in with the onions. Add the peas, the drained chickpeas, and a roughly chopped handful of cilantro leaves. Stir it all together and add salt to taste. Take it off the heat to let it cool down a bit.
Meanwhile, the pastry! Cut the butter into little pieces, and with cool, calm fingers, squidge the butter, flour and salt together to make a crumbly mixture. Slowly add a few splashes of cold water (probably 1/4 cup max) and mix until the dough just comes together. Cover the dough and let it rest in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Nibble on some samosa filling while waiting…
Finally, assembly: roll some of the dough out on a floured surface after its nap in the fridge, until it is not so thin it’ll be fragile, but not so thick that all you’ll be eating is tough pastry. Put a spoonful of samosa filling close to the edge of the dough, and using the edge of a dough scraper or knife cut a square around it. Wet the edges of the square with some water and pull the edges up and pinch together. You can make a square pyramid (square bottom with four triangular sides) or a triangular pyramid (triangle bottom with three triangular sides) or whatever artistic blob you can muster. Depending on the size of your samosas, you can make 20-40…the number doesn’t matter, because it’ll never be enough.
Gently transfer the samosa to a baking tray. Repeat until all your dough is used up (or your first baking tray is full) and bake those suckers at 400 F for 20 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned.
I like to eat them with incredibly inauthentic Diana’s Original BBQ sauce. Mm hm.
Eat eat eat!