Monday, August 16, 2010

Potato & Pea Samosas

One thing I love about cooking is how a faux pas can still turn into something pretty great. While teaching an Indian cooking class, the samosa dough didn't make quite enough for the entire class so we improvised and made mini Potato & Pea Samosas instead... which really ended up looking like mini empanadas after they were filled. Regardless, they were quite delicious and easy to prepare. So there's no need to hit up your usual Indian restaurant for some samosas since you can make them at home!...

The star of this recipe is definitely the filling. A savory mixture of spices combined with onions, ginger and garlic coats tender pieces of potato with a few sweet peas tossed in. For some brightness, a splash of lemon juice and chopped fresh cilantro is added just before filling the dough.

The spices used include ground fennel, ground cumin, ground fenugreek, tumeric and red pepper flakes. Most likely, some of these spices may not be in your pantry. That's not to say they're difficult to find or even expensive to purchase. I purchase my spices in bulk at The Spice House, allowing me to get small amounts (usually 1 ounce). You can order spices online and have them shipped directly from their website. Another spice company I highly recommend is Penzey's.

As for the dough, this recipe is made in your food processor or can be done by hand in a large mixing bowl/stand mixer. Using flour, salt, yogurt, oil and water, this dough is easy to put together and uses ingredients you may already have on hand. Once made, they're easy to fill and fry up to a golden brown. I served these samosas with store bought mint chutney and a sweet & sour chutney, however feel free to make your own if you wish!

Potato & Pea Samosas
recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Dough:
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (10 ounces) + extra for work surface
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons plain whole milk yogurt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cold water

Pulse the flour and salt together in a food processor until combined, about 4 pulses. Drizzle teh yogurt and 3 tablespoons of oil over the flour mixture and process until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 5 seconds.

With the machine running, slowly add 4 tablespoons of the water through the feed tube untl the dough forms a ball. If the dough doesn't come together, add the remaining 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon at a time, with the processor running, until a dough ball forms. The dough should feel very soft and malleable.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead by hand until it firms slightly, about 2 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest for at least 20 minutes, or refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Filling:
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pounds russet potatoes (about 4 medium), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion , minced
3 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger or grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
juice from 1 lemon
Ground black pepper

Combine the spices in a small bowl and set aside. Cover the potatoes by 1 inch of water in a large saucepan and add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender and a fork can be slipped easily into the center, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and set aside to cool slightly.

Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the spices and sauté until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Stir in the onion and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the cooled potatoes and cook until they begin to brown around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the peas to combine.

Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely cool, about 1 hour. Stir in the cilantro and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste before using. (The filling can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

To Assemble:
Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces, and keep the pieces covered with a sheet of plastic wrap coated with vegetable oil spray to prevent them from drying out. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll the dough into a 5-inch round using a rolling pin. Cut each dough round in half to form 24 half moons. Shape the samosas into a cone shape, fill, and seal the samosas, using 2 tablespoons of filling per samosa.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with several layers of paper towels and set aside. Heat 3 quarts oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat to 375 degrees. Add 8 of the samosas and fry until golden brown and bubbly, 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain 375 degrees. Using a wire spider or slotted spoon, transfer the samosas to the prepared baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Return the oil to 375 degrees and repeat with the remaining samosas in two batches. Serve.