Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Potato (Aloo) Samosas ...inspired by Today's Special {food 'n flix}

Samir grew up in his family's traditional Indian restaurant.  But as young adults tend to do, he turned away from that tradition and heritage to learn something new and modern by going away to culinary school to become a chef specializing in French cuisine.  When we meet him he is rigid, uptight, and basically - unhappy.  When he is passed over for a promotion he's been working towards for a younger chef, he decides to go to Paris to study under "the great ones".

And then his father has a heart attack, which puts his plans on hold while he "minds" the struggling family restaurant that he has tried so far to distance himself from.

Little did he know his life was about to take an unexpected turn; he meets two people that change him from the inside out.  The first is a worldly cabbie named Akbar who is actually an amazing cook.  Someone who teaches him that "with Indian cooking, a recipe is just a template... the important thing is the interpretation".  

Samir brings Akbar into the restaurant kitchen and in turn learns to cook with soul... with passion... as well as with structure.  The best food comes from "inside".

The second person is Carrie, a blond, American girl who, despite numerous indiscreet hints from his mother (played by Madhur Jaffrey) to marry a nice Indian girl, makes her way into his heart.  Spending time with her reminds him of the importance of food and family.

My favorite scene from the film is when Samir takes Carrie to Akbar's apartment where he has cooked a feast.  They enjoy food, music, and friends - and you can see Samir's icy demeanor begin to thaw.
There is a moment in the movie in which Carrie asks Samir the first food he remembers making.  With only the comfort that fond memories can bring, Samir recalls making samosas with his brother and an old cook in the restaurant kitchen when he was a boy.  That is where I drew my inspiration for these Aloo Samosas.

Honestly, it's about time that I made samosas.  I've been wanting to make them ever since I read Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey a few years ago.  They hold such memory, comfort, and tradition in a small deep-fried package.  I chose a traditional filling of potatoes, peas, and spice (coriander seed, garam masala, and cayenne).  One bite and I was trasnported to another place.

Check out Today's Special for a feel-good flick filled with rich food, and the reminder that joy comes from the acceptance of both tradition AND growth.

p.s... eat these with your hands.

 "Eating with a utensil is like making love through an interpreter." ~Akbar

Potato Samosas (Aloo Samosas)

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: ~15-25 minutes
Keywords: fry appetizer entree snack bread vegetarian peas potatoes spice Indian

Ingredients (serves 16)
    for the filling:
    • 2 Tbs. corn oil or olive oil
    • 1 tsp. coriander seeds
    • 3-4 scallions, sliced thinly
    • 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
    • 1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, diced, cooked until tender, drained
    • ½ c. frozen green peas, thawed
    • 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • ~1 tsp. coarse sea salt or kosher salt
    • 1 tsp. garam masala
    • ~¼ tsp. cayenne
    for the dough:
    • 5½ oz. (~1¼ cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
    • ½ tsp. coarse sea salt or kosher salt
    • ⅛ tsp. baking soda
    • ¼ c. vegetable shortening
    • 2-3 Tbs. buttermilk
    for forming:
    • 2 Tbs. unbleached all-purpose flour dissolved in 3 Tbs. water
    for frying:
    • Peanut oil or corn oil
    Instructions
    making the filling:
    Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the coriander seeds and cook until they darken slightly, ~1 minute. Add the scallions and ginger and cook until soft, ~2 minutes.

    Add the potatoes to the skillet and sauté until heated through and starting to turn golden in spots, ~3 minutes. Add peas and toss. Remove from and gently stir in the lemon juice, salt, garam masala, and cayenne. Set aside to cool.

    making the dough:
    Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Rub the flour and the shortening lightly between the palm of one hand and the palm and fingers of your other. Repeat this motion until all of the flour evenly coats the fine pebbles of shortening.

    Add 2 tablespoons of the buttermilk, stirring with your finger/hand to bring everything together. It should come together without being dry and crumbly or wet. If it is still a bit dry, drizzle in a bit more buttermilk at a time until you have a smooth dough. Knead a bit until the dough feels elastic and soft.

    Roll into an 8-inch log and wrap in plastic; set aside and allow dough to rest for 15 minutes.

    assembling the samosas:
    Cut dough into eight fairly even pieces. Gently roll each piece into a ball and flatten into a disk. Work with one disk at a time, covering the extra dough with plastic to keep it from drying out. Roll the disk into a 6-inch circle with even thickness. Cut this circle of dough in half.

    Dip your finger in the flour/water paste and moisten half of the straight edge of one of the semi-circles. Pick it up and bring the opposite edge over, twisting, to form a cone. 
    Press and pinch seam and point together to seal (keeps filling in during frying).

    Hold the cone about two-thirds of the way up, and use a measuring spoon to scoop and place ~1½ tablespoons of the potato filling into the cone. Dip your finger into the flour/water paste again and run it along half of the inside rim of the dough.
    Pinch the opening closed. Set on a tray and then repeat with remaining dough to get 16 samosas.
    finishing the samosas:
    Heat a deep, heavy-bottomed pan with 2-4 inches of oil to 350° F. Once hot, add a few samosas at a time (depending on the size of your pan, don't crowd them). Cook, turning often, until the samosas are golden brown; this should take 4-5 minutes.

    Transfer to a tray lined with paper towels or a rack to drain. Serve hot or at room temperature. I like mine with sweet chile sauce (totally different cuisine, but hey...).

    notes:
    The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated for a day, or frozen for up to three weeks. Once the samosas have been assembled, they can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to one day. Once cooked, you can wrap them loosely and store in fridge for up to two days, baking in a single layer at 350° F for 10 minutes.

    adapted from Fine Cooking
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    Food‘nFlix
    This month's edition of Food 'n Flix is hosted by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen.  Her choice of flick this month was Today's Special.  The deadline for submissions is today (2/26).

    Next month's host will be Tina from Squirrel Head Manor with her pick, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.  I hope you can watch the flick and cook/bake along with us!


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