Now that we’re better acquainted, I feel I should let you in on a little secret. I have a problem. Everyone tends to have at least one category of items where impulse control goes out the window. For some, it’s shoes. My grandma collects little spoons from touristy shops and displays them on a spoon hanger (or whatever it’s called). My aunt collects scotty dogs, both real and not. The hubs reads about all the technology that could someday grace our house, if only we had excessive amounts of cash. Me? Instead of boring you with the details, let me just show you a few pictures. Step inside my humble abode.
To begin with…
And then there’s…
Don’t forget about…
My spices take me to far away places, to places I long to visit. And, they remind me of the places I have already been.
Basil, garlic, crushed red pepper…my new (and only) husband and I sit tucked in the corner of a busy ristorante’s outdoor patio, under a starry Tuscan sky eating fresh seafood, soaking in the sounds of clinking glasses and intoxicating Italian conversation.
Ras al Hanout, cinnamon and saffron…I think of a far away but dear friend in Casablanca as she goes to the market to buy a live chicken, and to the “feuille” (or as Karissa puts it, “The Filo Man”) in preparation for the evening’s supper.
Turmeric, cumin , black mustard seeds…I am wandering through the streets of Delhi, the aroma of street food wafts and weaves through brightly colored saris and “free-range” cows; which leads me to expound upon one of my favorite Indian “snacks”.
Samosas. Typically, savory little pockets filled with potatoes, peas and spices, sold on street carts as snacks in India, and as appetizers here in the U.S. Think of an Indian version of an empanada, or of spanokopita.
Phyllo dough is a quick(er) way to make a slightly un-traditional version of samosas…or so I thought. Oh, phyllo dough…I love you and hate you at the same time.
Picture this: It’s 8:00 pm, the kitchen has exploded and I cannot see the surface of my counters. Almost every dish in the house has been used (because I had the bright idea that making a vegetable dish, samosas, and two kinds of chutney would somehow be easy).
I am stuffing delicate squares of phyllo, coaxing them to stick to each other, and not my fingers. It was such a romantic idea…The kitchen sparkles, and I emerge into the dining room with my little savory pockets, and chutney in cute little dishes. Instead, I pronounce to anyone within earshot, “I’m making samosa pie!”
Out comes the pie pan, in goes the filling, on goes the phyllo and into the oven. Bake, sit, wait, ta-da!
It was like I did it on purpose!
Inspired by the samosas of Madhur Jaffrey and Suvir Saran
Samosa pie is filling enough to be eaten as a main dish with chutney, but also could be paired with your favorite Indian dish. I know the ingredient list looks daunting. However, most ingredients are spices that can be purchased on the cheap from Indian grocery stores and specialty spice shops (see my notes below for my favorite places). Once you have a set of commonly-used spices, you’ll be able to make (almost) anything! Oh, and one last thing…Do make both chutneys. The sweet tanginess of the tamarind and the herbal spiciness of the coriander complement each other and the pie.
- 1 8-oz roll phyllo dough (1/2 package),** thawed at room temperature for 3 hours (leave in the plastic wrapper)**
- 2 pounds russet potatoes (about 3 very large, or 4 medium), peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced or pressed
- 1 tablespoon peeled, and finely grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
- 1 small jalapeño, very finely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, plus additional to garnish (lower stems removed), finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (or more, if desired)
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 4 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- About 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (salt to taste)
Preheat oven to 375˚.
Cover potatoes by 1 inch of water in a large saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are tender and can be pierced with a fork. Drain the potatoes and set aside.
Combine the fennel, cumin, mustard, coriander, turmeric and fenugreek in a small bowl.
Heat 4 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat until hot and shimmering. Add the onion and carrots and saute until tender but not brown, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and jalapeño and cook for another minute or two. Add the spices from the small bowl and stir until the vegetables are coated.
Add the potatoes to the vegetable/spice mixture and stir until coated. Now, roughly mash the potato mixture (it should look like a quite lumpy version of mashed potatoes). Add the peas, cilantro, lemon juice, garam masala, and cayenne and salt to taste.
Drape the phyllo, 2 sheets at a time (10 to 12 sheets total), in a pie pan (as shown in the picture). Put the potato mixture on top of the phyllo in the pan. Fold the phyllo over the potato mixture. Drape an additional 2 sheets of phyllo over top of the pie, and tuck in the extra dough tucking into the sides of the pie. Brush the dough with olive oil.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with tamarind and coriander chutneys.
Adapted from Indian Home Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey
- 2 medium bunches of cilantro, lower stems removed (about 8 oz without lower stem weight)
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 small jalapeño or serrano pepper, coarsely chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin (cumin is especially good when the seeds are toasted, then ground. See note*)
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt (or salt to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until you have a smooth paste. Store in a non-metallic bowl.
Adapted from American Masala by Suvir Saran
- 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
Combine all spices in a small bowl. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the spices, stir, and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the water, sugar and tamarind concentrate. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer until thickened and syrupy (enough to coat the back of a spoon), 45 minutes to 1 hour (Saran says 20-30 minutes, but it always takes longer for me). May be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
- Savory Spice, a local spice shop in the Denver area sells spices by weight, in any amount (they will also ship). The spices are always top quality, and I know that I will always find everything I need in one place. Indian markets also sell large amounts of very reasonably priced spices.
- Toasting cumin seeds: Heat a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds and stir or toss frequently until aromatic and slightly darkened.