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Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Samosas in Phyllo

20 Aug

In the spirit of my propensity to toss bits and pieces of leftover vegetables into a tart or a quiche and then sit back and enjoy the fruits of my frugality, a little while ago I decided that my bits and pieces of this and that were ready to branch out a bit. I love a good tart and quiche, but I also love a good challenge. Also, I love Indian food.

I know that I went super heavy on Indian food posts a few weeks ago, but can you blame me for wanting to add on to my arsenal of Indian food recipes? And it’s not just because I am Indian. I mean, technically I am half Scottish as well as half Indian, but you won’t see me whipping up a batch of haggis any time soon. Though I have been know to make shortbread, but, you know, I put ginger and lime in it, because that’s what happens when India creeps into Scotland.

This new riff on samosas is also a new riff on the traditional Indian dish of aloo gobi, a dry sauté of spiced potatoes and cauliflower Literally, in Hindi, “aloo” means potato and “gobi” means cauliflower. Now you know roughly 50% of the Hindi that I know. (If I ever have to negotiate a taxi fare in India, I am going to be in so much trouble.) With a sad little bag of leftover sweet potatoes sitting in the pantry and a fast-wilting head of cauliflower in the refrigerator, I knew I wanted to whip up a decidedly different version of aloo gobi. Since I also had a package of phyllo dough that was quickly turning dry, it soon became clear to me that the universe wanted me to make samosas. And who am I to throw a cold shoulder to the universe?

I am a big fan of my initial recipe for samosas in phyllo, and I cart that sucker out quite a bit when tasked to bring a dish to a potluck or picnic, but these sweet potato and cauliflower samosas are fast overtaking the originals on my list of favorites. The sweet potatoes add a nice change in flavor from ordinary potatoes, and the cauliflower, once sautéed, wrapped up, and baked, practically melts into the creamy and delicious mixture. The spices in this version of samosas are different from the original, I have streamlined the filling and folding process, and, believe it or not, I just might prefer this version overall. For now, at least. Until I find a couple of sprouting potatoes and sagging chiles lying around and decide to make a batch of samosa recipe #1, and then predictably pronounce them to be my reigning favorite.

Last Year: How to Cook Pizza on the Grill

Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Samosas in Phyllo Recipe

3 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into very small ¼-inch cubes

½ head fresh cauliflower, cored and cut into ½-inch chunks

½ teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 small green chile, seeds and ribs removed, then very finely chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 package phyllo dough, about 35 to 40 sheets

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted then cooled a bit

In a large pan set over high heat, heat vegetable oil or ghee until it is very hot. Add cumin seeds, and cook them just until they begin to sizzle and pop (this will take just a few seconds). Carefully add in sweet potatoes, and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using a slotted spoon, remove potatoes from pan and set aside. In the still-hot pan, add the cauliflower and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add the potatoes back to the pan with the cauliflower, then add in the spices, ginger, and chopped chile. Reduce heat to low, stir to combine, cover, then let cook for 5 minutes. Remove cauliflower mixture from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

When the mixture has cooled, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Cover phyllo stack with a dampened kitchen towel (this will keep the phyllo from drying out as you work).  Take one phyllo sheet from stack and lay it down on your work surface with a long side nearest you (keeping remaining sheets covered as you work) and brush lightly with butter. Fold the dough towards you in three folds, like a tri fold business letter. You will now have a long, three-layer strip of phyllo dough.

Place a tablespoon of filling near one corner of a strip, then fold corner of phyllo over to enclose filling and form a triangle. Continue folding the strip (as one would fold a flag), maintaining a triangle shape. Put fully wrapped samosa triangle, seam side down, on a parchment-lined large baking sheet. Repeat process, making more triangles in the same manner, until you’ve used all the phyllo and all the filling, whichever comes first. Very, very lightly brush the tops of the formed samosas with any remaining melted butter.

The samosas can be baked in a 375 degree oven, one sheet at a time, for 20-25 minutes, or until they are golden brown.  Cool them slightly on a wire rack before serving.

If you plan to freeze the samosas instead of bake them straightaway, place the wrapped samosas in the freezer on their parchment-lined baking sheets, and freeze for one hour.  Remove the samosas from the freezer, and stack them in an airtight container, separating each stack with a layer of parchment or wax paper.  The samosas will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.  When you are ready to bake the frozen samosas, follow the baking directions for fresh samosas.  There is no need to adjust the baking time.

Makes 35 to 40 samosas, depending on how generous your 1 tablespoon scoops are.

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6 Responses to “Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Samosas in Phyllo”

  1. Allison August 20, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    Oo this sounds good. And I like the idea of making phyllo dough samosas! I’ve tried to make samosas twice before, and both times were dough-related disasters. (Both times were also more than 10 years ago, but still…) I should try out your method for some more easily wrapped (and baked instead of fried!) samosas; thanks!

    • savorysaltysweet August 20, 2012 at 10:08 am #

      I feel entirely the same way about working with regular samosa dough (and I am Indian!). Phyllo is a wonderful replacement for standard samosa dough. It makes for such a light and flaky treat. I hope you give these a try.

      • Allison August 20, 2012 at 10:20 am #

        I definitely will! I do hope to try making traditional samosas again one of these days– for one of the disasters the problem was just that the potatoes weren’t cooked quite soft enough so they kept poking out of the dough and tearing holes in it, so that could be remedied easily enough. But probably I’ll try making your version first :) Such a good idea!

        (Also it occurs to me now that Trader Joe’s frozen samosas are wrapped in a phyllo-like dough and are also this kind of flat spanakopita-lie shape rather than pyramid shaped… and I still love them!)

  2. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide August 20, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    Wow, these look so good. And I actually have phyllo for once.

  3. Laurel Ni November 12, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    These look amazing but I’m really intimidated by phyllo. Any hints for newbies?

    • savorysaltysweet November 12, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

      Of course! First of all, never fear the phyllo. You’ll totally prevail if you just remember to keep the phyllo from drying out while you are using it. If you lay a slightly damp kitchen towel over the pile of waiting phyllo, it’ll keep things from getting too dry and brittle. And if a sheet does happen to rip, don’t worry–just lightly butter the sheet, then lay another sheet on top of it. It’ll bake up just fine in the end! It helps to remember that the phyllo does not have to look perfect, either. When it’s all rolled up and baked, it will be flaky and delicious even if it has craggily edges. Hope this helps!

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