Of course it had to hit when there was no easy way to fix it. I’m talking about the intense craving I had yesterday for samosas. All I wanted was the crisp crust and the melt in your mouth filling ASAP. But, I did not have the patience to order takeout or to make samosas from scratch. Staring at my freezer to see if I had any frozen samosas, I discovered a solitary roll of puff pastry waiting to be used. I also found half a cauliflower in my vegetable drawer. On went the oven and in less than an hour, I had a delicious fix that looked nothing like a samosa, but delighted the taste buds with mimicking the flavors.
One sheet of frozen puff pastry roll, left on the counter to thaw for 40 minutes (I used one roll from a two pack of 17.3 oz dough from Pepperidge Farm)
One large onion, finely chopped
2 green chilis, finely chopped
2 cups small cauliflower florets (about half a cauliflower for me)
1 small potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
2 tbsps oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
.5 tsp turmeric powder
1.5 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cilantro, finely chopped for garnishing (optional)
1 green chili, finely chopped, for garnishing (optional)
1 small cube of paneer, finely chopped, for garnishing (optional)
1 springform pan (I used a 9 inch one) or a tray for baking the samosa
Parchment paper to prevent the base from sticking when baking
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds. When they sizzle, add the onions and green chilis and sauté, stirring occasionally till the onions start turning brown. This took about ten minutes.
3. Add the cauliflower, potato, salt, and turmeric powder to the onions, give the mixture a good toss and cook covered (give it a stir once or twice) till the cauliflower and potatoes are cooked and dry. The veggies should not turn mushy. This took about ten minutes for me on a medium flame.
4. Add the garam masala, mix well and set the mixture aside to cool a bit. It should feel warm to the touch.
5. Grease the springform pan or tray and line it with parchment paper.
6.Unroll the puff pastry dough and plop it on the pan or tray.
7. Mound the filling at the centre of the dough, and bring the dough from each side towards the centre leaving the filling exposed (see picture). It is okay to not have perfection here. All you want is the samosa filling to be encased partially in some yummy puff pastry filling.
8. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for about 30-40 minutes, till the puff pastry is a golden brown. Mine took 30 minutes.
9. Wait for ten minutes (this is the hardest part). Remove the base from the springform pan if using. Sprinkle the chili, cilantro, paneer, garnishing (if using) on the samosa pie. Slice into wedges and enjoy!
I’ll be honest – the humble potato has taken a bit of a backseat in our meals of late. With all the hoopla around the nutritional content of a potato, we have not been making it a staple at meals. But potatoes are the ultimate comfort food. And it takes so little to elevate the potato into a lip smacking dish. Like this one, where the potatoes are sautéed in some oil, with cumin seeds, chilis and a whole bunch of fresh fenugreek leaves. Fenugreek leaves also known as “methi” are available aplenty at Indian grocery stores, and this is one of those put a meal together in a jiffy kind of dishes that takes a few ingredients. Sadly, the toughest part of making this dish is the painstaking cleaning required to rid the leaves of mud and grit.
2 tbsp cooking oil (I used vegetable oil)
2 tsps cumin seeds
2 dried red chili pods
4 medium sized potatoes, peeled, cut into cubes, and washed
1 bunch fenugreek leaves, washed repeatedly till the mud and grit is gone and finely chopped (discard the tough stems)
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1. Heat two tbsps of oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds and red chili pods.
2. When the cumin seeds sizzle, add the cubed potatoes, salt, and turmeric powder. Cover and cook on a medium flame, stirring occasionally till the potatoes are nearly done (a fork inserted should glide through the potato). This took about 13 minutes for me. (If your potatoes are sticking to the bottom, sprinkle a bit of water)
3. Add the chopped fenugreek leaves, toss the potatoes so the leaves are evenly mixed in. Cook covered for five minutes, and then without a lid for a couple of minutes till the leaves have wilted and have coated the potatoes.
4. Serve hot with roti or pita.
5. A tip. You could also make cumin potatoes by skipping the fenugreek leaves altogether and calling the dish done when the potatoes are cooked. This tastes yum by itself or with rotis or as an accompaniment to rice.
Recently, I spotted fingerling potatoes at Trader Joe’s and was inspired to take these to a different level. Inspired by the Indian dish of “til ke aloo” or potatoes with sesame seeds, I decided to dress the potatoes with spices and as an afterthought serve them with a nice sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. The result was a beautiful play of spice, tart and sweetness on the taste buds. Here’s how I created this dish that can be served as a starter or a side dish.
Two tbsps vegetable oil
Two dried red chilies
One lb bag of fingerling potatoes washed
One tsp salt
One tsp cumin powder
One tsp coriander powder
Half tsp turmeric
Half tsp chili powder
One cup water
One tbsp Tahini
One tbsp sesame seeds
One heaped tbsp of pomegranate seeds for garnishing (optional)
Heat oil in a pan. When the oil is heated, add the red chilies and swirl till they get dark. Add the potatoes, salt, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and chili powder and mix well.
Add a cup of water and cook the potatoes till they are firm but dry and done. If necessary, add a bit more water to prevent the potatoes from sticking to the pan. Add the tahini and sesame seeds and toss well. Take off flame and serve garnished with pomegranate seeds.