Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I'm not going to lie. Phyllo dough scares me. It's so thin and delicate, and these are adjectives that I would definitely not use to describe myself. But I ran across a recipe for samosas and they looked really interesting, so I had to try it, even though the recipe called for Phyllo dough. Only after I made these samosas did I discover that samosas are traditionally made with a much thicker pastry and deep-fried, rather than baked. I will say this about the recipe: the filling was delicious. Next time I attempt a samosa, though, I will have to make my own pastry and deep-fry for a more authentic texture and flavor.

As I mentioned, the filling was great. The recipe I found was in Cooking Light magazine, and since I didn't have all the necessary ingredients, I had to improvise a little, but I think my modifications still allowed for a traditional flavor. The filling calls for potato, green peas, onions, ginger, garlic, cilantro, cumin, coriander, cardamom, and turmeric. I didn't have the last three spices on that list, so I used about a tablespoon of the store-bought curry block. You've probably seen it - it's in a gold box and it comes in two "flavors," hot and medium.

All that being said, it was a fun experiment. Knowing what I know now about the tastes and the method, I think the recipe I would use next time is this (found on

3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups self-rising flour
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, cut in small pieces
9 tablespoons water

1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 habenero chile, minced
1/2 teaspoon garam masala spice blend
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon red chile powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander leaves
Vegetable oil, for frying

To make the dough: Mix the salt and flour in a medium bowl or a food processor. With a pastry blender, incorporate the butter until crumbs have formed. Add the water a few tablespoons at a time, until you can form a ball. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Let it rest for about 15 minutes more. You can prepare the dough in advance and refrigerate it.

To make the filling: Boil the potatoes until tender. Drain and set aside.
If using fresh carrots, chop and simmer in water, to cover, in a small pot. Add the corn and peas to barely cook. Set aside to cool.
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion until golden. Add the garlic, ginger, and chile and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garam masala, turmeric, chile powder, and salt and cook 2 minutes more.
In a bowl combine the mashed potatoes, the onion and spice mixture, carrots, peas, corn, lemon juice, and chopped coriander. Mix well.

To assemble the samosas: Divide the dough into 9 equal size balls. On a floured surface, roll each ball into a 5-inch circle. Cut each circle in half.
Brush the straightedge side with a little water, fold it in half, and align the two straight sides so they overlap to form a cone shape. Squeeze the edges together to make a tight seal.
Place approximately 1 generous tablespoon of filling inside each cone, leaving the top edge clean. Moisten the inside top rim of the cone and press the edges together to make another tight seal.
Place the samosas on a tray until ready to fry. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Heat approximately 3 inches of vegetable oil in a deep saucepan.
Fry several samosas at a time, being careful not to crowd them. When 1 side turns golden brown, flip it over to brown on the other side. Drain on paper towels. Serve with chutney.
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