Samosas: Pied, Not Fried

While a samosa is more properly a dumpling than it is a pie, these traditionally triangular puffs of golden goodness filled with vegetables and the spices of the east can conceivably be compared to a fried pie or empanadas. Though originally of Middle Eastern origin and still popular throughout the Middle East and South East Asia, samosas are most commonly associated with India. The samosa is most commonly fried, but in the false economy of the 20th century’s paean to “healthy eating,” they are sometimes now served baked. Thinking of them in these terms, I thought samosas to be entirely suitable for a pie.

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While their filling might be composed of lamb, chicken, or even beef, samosas are most popularly vegetarian, and as such, the pie I propose has the versatility to serve either as a delightful center to a meatless meal or as an accompaniment to a delightful meat entrée. As with any pie, there will be a crust and a filling. My samosa pie uses a basic short crust filling, although I substitute yoghurt for sour cream in the liquid of the dough. Of course, water may be added as needed. Make enough for a 2 crust pie, using the food processor method, separate into 2 discs of varying sizes, and chill for a minimum of two hours, or up to overnight. Or, it can be frozen, and completely thawed in the refrigerator before rolling.

Cook it until it's done.

Cook it until it’s done.

The ingredients of your filling can be whatsoever you choose, a vegetarian samosa usually is composed of potatoes, carrots, and peas, and such are used in this dish, along with onion, garlic, coriander, cumin, curry, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Dice a green chile into the mix if you choose. Coarsely chop a potato and a carrot, and boil until soft. Mash thoroughly. Dice  a few potatoes, a few carrots, and an onion or two, and sauté in a little neutral oil fortified with ghee until crisp tender. Toss in some minced garlic and all the other herbs and spices, and sauté until soft. Stir in the mashed potato and carrots and add some fresh or frozen peas. Cook for a few minutes and taste for seasoning. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Bake to a golden brown.

Bake to a golden brown.

Roll out the dough and line a standard pie plate. Roll out the top crust. Fill the pie, and cover, sealing the two layers. Brush with an egg wash, and bake in a 375° oven until it is fully cooked, around 40 minutes.

This pie is a delightful accompaniment to tandoori chicken, which requires a tandoor oven to cook, and that is equipment that may not be held in every household. A good charcoal grill and a well seasoned baking stone offer a well informed substitution.

The first turning

The first turning

I used skinless and boneless chicken breasts, marinating them overnight in a concoction taken from Bittman’s Best Recipes in the World, 1st edition, 3rd printing, pg 291; including yoghurt, curry, paprika, ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, salt, and cayenne to taste.

Heat your charcoal grill until hot, add more charcoal, and top with your baking stone. Heat it until it’s HOT, HOT, HOT. While heating the grill, you will have brought your breasts to room temperature. When you can’t stand to hold your hand above the stone, oil it and hurl the breasts upon it. After 3-4 minutes, turn them and grill them until they reach an internal temperature of 165°, turning as needed. to evenly cook.

The fires of Hephaestus

The fires of Hephaestus

Plunge them immediately upon a bed of spinach. This will nicely wilt the spinach beneath.

The grill can then be used to cook na’an, if you added sufficient fuel at the beginning.

Standing over a hot grill as you create your tandoorish chicken is thirsty work, and I find that my Mumbai Fizz is a delightful thirst quencher. The Mumbai Fizz is an utter bastardization of the French 75. The French 75 dates back to the Great War, and is named for the large French cannon. It is a drink that shares the commonality of the French and the British, combining gin and champagne, tempered with lemon juice and simple syrup. Essentially, it’s a Tom Collins made with sparkling wine instead of sparkling water. To give the drink the taste of the subcontinent, I substituted lime for lemon and added ginger syrup to the mix. Garnish the drink with a slice of lime and a piece of candied ginger, and it’s a Mumbai Fizz. Most satisfactory.

The Waters of Thirst

The Waters of Thirst

Samosas are generally served with chutney, and a hot cool mint chile chutney is really the best. Puree fresh mint, green chile, sugar, salt and lime juice in the processor. Drizzle around your slice of pie at serving.

Bon Apetit!

Bon Apetit!

Raita is a part of any Indian meal, and is yoghurt, garlic, cumin, and what you choose, be it tomato, shredded carrot, or–the most common ingredient–cucumber. Mint is always a nice addition. It’s lovely on top of the tandoori chicken. A dry peanut chutney adds a cunning crunch to the dish. Toss some roasted peanuts, cumin, coriander, and chile into a processor with a little garlic, and grind it coarse-fine. Layer it on top of the raita.

If you choose to serve wine with this meal, make it a bold red, or continue down the road with the Mumbai Fizz. Beer is always a good choice with Indian food. Be sure to have extra raita on hand for dipping your naan. My final judgment on the pie: an authentic, fried samosa is better, but if you’re in a hurry or suffering delusions of “healthy cooking” the samosa pie is a judicious substitution.

About What would Julia do?

Being timid and meek like Dorothy Gale, I have surprised myself by starting this blog. But a few people have suggested I do so, so there it is. I love to eat and I love to drink, so although this blog could be about almost anything I choose to type, there's likely to be a lot about what you put in your mouth. Why the title? Anyone who knows me knows my reverence for Julia Child. I don't think it's hyperbolic to say that our country's interest in the culinary arts would be all but non-existent but for Her. I would not attempt to count the number of people who have cited Her influence in their lives and careers. What Atticus Finch is to lawyers, Julia Child is to the cook, be s/he servantless or professional. Honesty demands me to say that it is not simply Her advocacy of GOOD FOOD that has immortalized her; She had the happy circumstance of coming into her own at a time when media was in her favour. We can all be thankful for that. I would name Julia Child as the patron saint of second starts, but I'm a happy heretic. Julia's dogma goes beyond the kitchen: She has famously stated that "[y]ou've got to have the courage of your convictions..." Her statement applies as equally to any part of one's life as it does to flipping a potato gallette. I will conclude by noting I have my own personal trinity of Js--Julia, Judy Garland, and Joanna Rowling. Please refer back to that part about my being a happy heretic.
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4 Responses to Samosas: Pied, Not Fried

  1. Tayreze says:

    It looks pie-licious! The cocktail sounds wonderful!

  2. Greg Baine says:

    I have to make the Samosas!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Greg Baine says:

    And that drink!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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