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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.