A Different Take on Indian Samosas…and a very cool dinner party

A Different Take on Indian Samosas…and a very cool dinner party

You might remember my earlier post about an Indian Feast that my friend Padma and I put on a couple of months back (see my post from July 16th). At that party, thrown for family and friends, I tried a new take on Indian Samosas — those triangular, doughy, wonderful things filled with spicy potatoes and peas. Rather than the dough, I used phyllo pastry to keep them light and make them a bit more like finger food.  At our latest shindig, Padma and I did some new dishes, but kept these delicious little wonders. Before sharing the recipe, I thought I’d tell you a bit more about the dinner party itself — it was quite a fabulous night!. I mentioned in my last indian feast post that the next go around was cooking for some serious foodies and restaurateurs. The guest list included Mary Risley, who is better known as Tante Marie – the famous cookbook author and cooking school master here in San Francisco. Emily and Anjan Mitra also attended, who own the two DOSA restaurants here in the city (by far the best Indian food in San Francisco).  And last, but certainly not least, we had Jon Rader, who owns Frascati restaurant also here in the city. The best part was that none of them knew each other, so Padma and I had the pleasure of introducing all these foodophiles, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  It turns out that a friend of my husband’s and mine, Andrea Nguyen, who has authored the most acclaimed and popular Vietnemase cookbook to date, teaches at Tante Marie’s school, which we didn’t even know! The food world is indeed a small one…

But back to the party…What did we serve? We started with the samosas (recipe below) and papadum, along with my increasingly famous cilantro-mint chutney.  (If you want the recipe for that, just comment on the blog and I’ll post it for you.)  We then had a first course of upma cakes, topped with a curry leaf chutney, and then a couple of shrimp sauteed in tomato, onion and various aromatic spices. The main dishes included Methi Chicken, Eggplant sauteed with spices, Shrimp Curry, and seasoned rice.  And of course no Indian meal would be complete with dal.  The whole meal was wonderful, and Padma and I did some of our best cooking (good thing, considering the audience!). I knew it was a success when Anjan decided the meal was authentic enough to eat with his hands rather than silverware, and asked for my samosa recipe!

We paired some great Gewurtztraminer and Syrah wines with the food, which were also wonderful.  Finally, we topped the meal off with some coconut ice cream fresh from Bi-Rite Creamery, topped with some sweet mango slices, fresh mint, and dark chocolate covered blueberries.  Yummy!

I hope you endeavor to try these samosas…they are pretty easy to make, wonderfully delicious, and the perfect thing as an hors d’oeuvre whether you’re serving Indian food or not.

Whit’s Samosas in Phyllo Dough
(makes approximately 36 samosas)

3 medium yukon gold potatoes
2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
2 Tbsp coriander seed
1 Tbsp cumin seed
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp finely minced ginger
1/2 cup frozen peas
3 Tbsp freshly chopped cilantro
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
juice from 1/2 lime
12 sheets phyllo dough, thawed (most packages come with 2 internal sealed packs, and about half of one of them is adequate)
melted butter or ghee

Place potatoes in a large saucepan or pot, cover with water and bring to a boil.  Cover and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, and allow potatoes to cool enough to handle. Remove the peels (they should peel off easily with your fingers), and cut the potatoes into 1/2″ cubes.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the coriander and cumin seeds and fry until fragrant and starting to turn darker brown, about 1-2 minutes. Do not allow to burn. Add the onion, ginger and garlic, and cook until onion is soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5-6 minutes, until the potatoes start to brown slightly. Remove from heat, and stir in the peas, cilantro, salt, cayenne, garam masala and lime juice. Mix well, and taste. Adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside to cool for a bit.

Unroll the phyllo dough sheets, and cover with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out. Take one sheet and brush lightly with melted butter or ghee. Using a sharp knife, cut the sheet vertically into thirds so that you have three long strips of dough. Place about 1 tbsp of filling on the lowest end of one strip. Fold the phyllo like a flag, taking the bottom right corner and folding it over to form a triangular shape, then folding that triangle up, then over, then up, then over until you use the legnth of the dough.  This sounds complicated, but there are lots of web sites that show you how to do it…here is one that is quite good. As you finish, brush the top of each samosa with melted butter and put on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat until you use all the samosa filling. You can do all of this ahead of time…simply cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to bake. You can also freeze the samosas on the baking sheet covered with plastic wrap, then put them in a ziploc bag for future use, just thaw before cooking or allow longer cooking time.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook samosas for approximately 15-18 minutes, until they turn golden brown. Remove and serve with Indian Ketchup, tamarind sauce and/or cilantro-mint chutney. Enjoy!

Bon appetit!

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