B and I packed our bags for the West Coast last weekend, where our two-day visit stretched out into a four-day stay when Hurricane Sandy came roaring through the Eastern seaboard and canceled our flight. We can’t complain that we were at home with my mom in the kitchen, pampering us and stuffing our faces. We got back just in time for DC to come back to life, and are grateful that the damage here was not that bad.
For the flight, I decided to pack a snack as Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks, one of my favorite blogs, frequently does. Her millet croquettes inspired me to think about a self-enclosed meal that would last for a few hours at room temperature. I decided to try making my own samosas, wrapper and all, with blue potatoes we received in our CSA. Samosas are fried South Asian pastries that can be filled with just about anything, and they are similar to empanadas, egg rolls, sambusas and turnovers — all portable foods made of dough that contains a filling.
I froze most of the batch, making just six samosas for B and I to share on the flight. We ended up consuming a couple along the way, then sharing the rest with my mom when we got to our destination. But there’s really no reason to wait for a flight to cook up a batch of these. Plus, if you’re eating at home, you have the luxury of making a mint or tamarind chutney on the side without having to worry about the TSA’s liquid policies!
Ready-made samosa wrappers are easily available at international food stores, and some people even use the more commonly found egg roll wrappers as a substitute. But there was a real satisfaction to making my own wrappers, demonstrating yet again how versatile a little flour and water can be. Plus, I used whole wheat flour, and I doubt you’ll be able to tell much of a difference in flavor. It turns out that fried dough is good no matter how unprocessed your wheat is. The trick is just to roll it out thin enough that you get a nice crunchy crust.
Recipe after the jump.
Get a pot of water boiling and throw in your potatoes (about 4 medium-sized ones) to boil. We’ll use these for the filling once they are fully cooked (a fork goes through them easily), cooled and peeled.
Start making your dough: In a large bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour, 2 tbsp. semolina flour, 2 tbsp. grapeseed or vegetable oil and 1 tsp. salt. Rub the mixture in between your fingers to get the oil coated evenly on the flour. Then slowly add about 2/3 cups of water, and more if needed, until the dough comes together.
Sprinkle flour on your counter and knead your dough on it for at least ten minutes until the gluten starts to work its magic. You’ll know when you are close to done when you can press the dough with your finger and it springs back with a bounce. Once you’re at that point, work it a little more and roll it into a long log of equal diameter.
Cut the log in half, then cut each of the halves in half. Repeat one more time to make eight portions. Roll each one into a ball, applying a little oil to your hands if the mixture starts to stick. Place them in a bowl and wrap it completely in plastic wrap (because the dough can dry out if you don’t). Let it rest on the counter for at least half an hour.
Use that time to make your filling. Mix together about 1 1/2 cups of the mashed potatoes, 1/2 cup frozen peas, 1 cup finely sliced onions, 1 1/2 tsp. coriander powder, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cumin seeds, and 1 tsp. chopped green or red chilis (or less/more to adjust spice level).
When you’re ready to assemble the samosas, flour your work surface and roll out the balls of dough one at a time with a rolling pin, taking care to cover the remaining dough with plastic as you go. Each wrapper round should be about six inches in diameter and as thick as a dime. Cut the round in half, making two samosa wrappers.
To fill the samosa, fold the half-moon wrapper in thirds by folding one corner over and then the other. Cup the samosa in your hand with the pointy side facing down, and then spoon in about 2 teaspoons of the potato filling. You can press it in a little, but only fill it so that a half inch of the wrapper remains at the top. Dab your fingers with water and run them along the insides of that exposed dough at the top, then pinch the opening together to close the samosa.
Be sure the samosa is completely sealed and there are no holes in the dough. You don’t want oil seeping through into the filling while you are frying these.
Speaking of frying, lay your samosas on a baking tray as you work. Once you’re done wrapping all 16 of them, feel free to freeze as many as you don’t want to immediately eat. For the rest, heat 4 tbsp. grapeseed or vegetable oil in a shallow frying pan. Keep the oil at medium heat and warm it up thoroughly, so that when you dip your samosas in the oil they immediately begin to fry. Cook one at a time, and let each side brown before flipping. Each samosa should take about 4 minutes to cook.
You could speed things up by deep frying them and dropping them in batches, but I don’t really like to waste all that oil.
Lay the fried samosas on paper towels and sprinkle them with salt. They are great hot, but let them cool completely before covering them if you are planning to transport them. Use a paper bag to let the samosas breathe, or you risk having them turn soggy.
Fry the frozen samosas in the same way after allowing them to defrost for about 30 minutes. To reheat already fried samosas, toast them at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes. Enjoy!