Tag Archives: samosas

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.

Samosas in Phyllo

9 Mar

There are few words that exist on a sliding scale as slippery as that of the word “difficult.”  Some things are deemed difficult because they require a certain familiarity of skills before one is able to instinctively tackle them.  Other things can be referred to as difficult because they are time consuming and they ask a person to dedicate a great deal of effort and focus.  To me, something that is difficult is most often not really difficult at all (in terms of skill or effort), but rather simply unpleasant.  I may have no problem at all producing a trifecta of desserts for someone’s birthday, but I will not, under any circumstances I can currently think of, deep fry anything.

It’s not like I haven’t deep fried things before.  I’ve made fried poppadums, homemade sweet onion rings, and wonderfully crispy pakoras, but the problem was, I did not enjoy making any of those foods once I completed the preparation stage and was then forced to move on to the actual cooking stage.  Deep frying things makes your house smell like a soggy old french fry depository.  It is hot, messy, and, obviously, greasy, and I am always at a loss over what to do with all that spent oil.  Fortunately, my deep dislike of submerging things in hot oil never seemed to hold back my progress in the kitchen, so all was well.

Until, that is, I got it into my head that I was going to make samosas for a small event I had agreed to cater.

Though I knew I hated to fry things, I was convinced that I would be able to come up with a simple way to wrap and cook samosas that would not only avoid the step of having to deep fry anything, but also guarantee me a generous amount of wrapped samosas that were amenable to being frozen until the time arrived when I needed to bake them.

Taking inspiration from a wonderful tapas cookbook I often look to for ideas, I decided to wrap each samosa in a dual layer of phyllo dough.  It was my hope that brushing butter in between each layer of dough would make for a crisp finished product, and making sure to securely wrap each little package of spiced potatoes would ensure an end result that would both freeze well and take to baking straight from the freezer.

To make this long story short, I don’t know why I didn’t try this sooner.  The samosas, both baked after being frozen and baked immediately after being wrapped (for purposes of, ahem, quality control), were crisp, light, and lacking in any sort of heaviness or greasiness.  As an added bonus, the delicate nature of phyllo really allows the flavor of the perfectly spiced potato filling to take center stage, completely convincing me that, at least until I break down and decide to tackle a Spanish tortilla de patatas, my deep frying days have come to an end.

Samosas in Phyllo

Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey Indian Cooking

4-5 medium potatoes, boiled in their jackets and allowed to cool

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium sized onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 cup shelled peas, fresh or frozen (if frozen, defrost them first)

1 tablespoon peeled, finely grated fresh ginger

1/2 to 1 fresh, hot green chili, finely chopped

3 tablespoons very finely chopped cilantro

About 3 tablespoons water

1 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon ground, roasted cumin seeds (if you only have regular ground cumin, you can toast the teaspoon of cumin in a dry pan set over high heat.  The cumin will take only seconds to toast, so watch it carefully for browning and then immediately take it off of the heat and place it in a room temperature bowl or dish)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons lemon juice

20 phyllo sheets, thawed if frozen (my sheets were 8.5″ x 13.5″ and, layered and cut into fifths, yielded 50 samosas)

4 tablespoons butter, melted then cooled

To make the filling, peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/4 inch dice.  Put 4 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan and place over medium heat.  When hot, put in the onions.  Stir and fry them until they begin to turn brown at the edges.  Add the peas, ginger, green chili (1/2 or the whole thing, depending on how spicy you prefer things), cilantro, and 3 tablespoons water.  Cover, lower heat, and simmer until the peas are cooked.  Stir every now and then and add a little more water if the frying pan seems to dry out.

Add the diced potatoes, salt, ground coriander, garam masala, cumin, cayenne, and lemon juice.  Stir to mix.  Cook on low heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring gently as you do so.  Check balance of salt and lemon juice.  You may want more of both (I added more lemon juice, but felt the salt content was just fine).  Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool.

To fill and wrap the samosas, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (if you are wrapping and freezing the samosas, you can obviously skip this step).  Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Cover phyllo stack with a sheet of plastic wrap and then 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. Top with another phyllo sheet and brush with more butter. Cut buttered phyllo stack crosswise into 5 strips (my sheets were 13.5 inches long, yielding 5 strips that were not quite 2.75 inches wide).

Place a tablespoon of filling near one corner of a strip (on the end that is nearest to you), 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.

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, place them 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.

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