As a kid and this followed along into adulthood, I love the combination of sweet, spicy, hot, and sour in food. I think this combination makes for an exciting and tantalizing food sensory experience, hence I have a tendency to bring these flavors to fruits and vegetables whenever possible.Read More
If you read my interview with the Kitchn as part of their Bite-Sized Guide to Oakland, you will have learned some exciting news. Sometime late Fall last year, I signed a book deal with the wonderful folk at Chronicle Books. "My first cookbook", it feels a little surreal to even type those words or say it but this is happening and will be released in Fall 2018! So stay tuned while I reveal behind-the-scenes footage and more, over the next few months here and on Instagram.
I rarely share too many traditional Indian recipes, most of recipes reflect my journey of adaptation as an immigrant, I sometimes cook traditionally but more so than often the food I cook and create is influenced strongly by my past and present. It's somewhere in between/ Take this samosa pie for instance, I first ate phyllo in the honey soaked baklava at a Greek restaurant in Cincinnati. The sweetness and the crunch of the thin sheets of flaky pastry that revealed a heavenly nut filling scented with rose water. Samosas are an Indian-style hand pie and on some days I'm too lazy to assemble two dozen samosas and so the samosa pie was born. This one envelopes the filling with layers and layers of thin delicate phyllo, brushed with ghee and topped off with a generous sprinkle of nigella.
samosa phyllo pie
makes one 9 inch-pie
2lbs russet potatoes
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil
2 teaspoons crushed coriander seeds
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
2 inch piece ginger root, peeled and julienned
1 cup frozen or fresh peas
1 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (cayenne will work)
1 1/2 teaspoon amchur powder (dried raw mango powder)
1 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup packed chopped cilantro leaves
1 serrano pepper thinly sliced
1 box of whole-wheat phyllo pastry, at room temperature (about 18 single sheets of phyllo)
1/4 cup melted ghee or butter
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
1. Rinse and scrub the potatoes and place them in a large stockpot and fill with cold tap water up to an inch above the potatoes. Add 1 teaspoon salt and heat on medium-high heat for about 20 to 25 minutes until the potatoes are completely cooked and tender. Drain the water from the potatoes and allow to cool before peeling. Once the potatoes are cooled, chop them into large chunks and keep aside.
2. Heat the oil in a large stockpot or Dutch-oven on medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot add the coriander seeds and cook until they start to brown within 30 to 40 seconds. Add the onions and ginger and cook until they brown in about 10 to 12 minutes. Then add the chopped potatoes, peas, the remaining salt, chili, amchur, black pepper and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally to coat evenly. Remove the stockpot from the stove and and taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Fold in the cilantro leaves and serrano.
3. Place a wire rack at midlevel in the oven and preheat to 350F. Grease a 9-inch circular pie pan with a little ghee or butter. Carefully line the surface of the pan with one single sheet of phyllo and brush gently with ghee or butter. Place another sheet of pastry at a slight angle to the first and repeat. This will allow you to cover the entire pan as you rotate the placement of the pastry sheets. Place 9 such phyllo sheets. Then fill the pan with the potato-pea filling. Cover the filling with the remaining sheets of phyllo, brushing each layer with ghee or butter. Once the pie is layered, take a kitchen shears and trim the overhang leaving about 1 inch of extra pastry on the edge. Fold this extra inch over itself and crimp it gently to seal. Brush the entire surface of the pastry with the ghee or butter. If you have any extra left-over pastry, you can use it to garnish and decorate the pie. Sprinkle the nigella seeds over the pie and make six 1 inch cuts around the center of the pie to allow it to vent in the oven. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for about 60 minutes, rotating once halfway through until golden brown. Remove the baked pie from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Serve slices of the pie with a sweet tamarind chutney and/or spicy green cilantro chutney or even Indian-style mango pickle.
Both my hands trembled by the keyboard, for a good 5 minutes or so when I found out I had been included as a finalist in the Best Photo Based Culinary Blog category for this year's IACP awards. We were almost a few minutes from leaving our home to head out to the open house at the culinary school that I'm hoping to attend (barring all other life constraints, etc) when I received the news. Then came the excitement and the crazy happy dance with the dog looking at me in complete bewilderment. To be included among these talented folk makes me feel thankful and humbled. And, I have you to thank for this, your constant encouragement and support is what makes me and this tiny space on the internet grow.
Sometimes, it's good to deconstruct and then reconstruct. This is exactly what this recipe is all about. Break the triangular samosa down then build it up again in the form of a mini pie in a mason jar. The crust is flaky and buttery, seasoned with a pinch of pretty black nigella seeds. Little marbles of red, white and purple potatoes with brightly green colored peas remain hidden under this layer of pastry only to reveal a pepper and ginger spiced coating. Serve these pies straight out of the oven with your favorite accompaniments, this cilantro mint chutney and/or this sweet tamarind and date one will go well.
To prepare the pastry crust, I used whole wheat pastry flour from Bob's Red Mill which gave me the exact amount of texture and flavor I needed. The pastry turned out to be pretty light and with even layers of flakiness making it perfect for this mini-samosa pie. This is going to be one of my favorite whole grain flours to work with from now on!
Here are some of my kitchen tips when preparing these mini pies, that you might find useful:
- I used whole-wheat pastry flour which is different from whole-wheat flour in origin, it is milled from white wheat while regular whole-wheat originates from hard red wheat. The pastry flour variety is also low in protein when compared to the regular whole-wheat (via Bob's Red Mill).
- When I use my food processor to blend flours, I wrap the mouth of the bowl with cling film and then attach the lid before switching the machine on. This way any flour mess is minimized. Once the liquids are added to the dry ingredients, the
- I recommend using a cool surface to roll out the pastry, a marble pastry board does a great job.
- If you can't find nigella seeds use black sesame or carom seeds in the same amount.
- Traditionally a samosa is fried and uses no egg wash. But since I baked the pastry in the form of a pie, I brushed the surface with a little egg wash to give it a glaze to make it more attractive. You can definitely brush the entire pastry completely even on the sides, I personally prefer the center glazed and the sides untouched. Do it the way you like.
- The Fillings: go all out, you can use my savory filling here, or do a breakfast one or an apple one. Let your creative juices flow!
- ***One word on the pie-slits in the crust. You don't need to do it. If you do it add a teaspoon of water into each pie before sticking it into the oven, this keeps the filling from becoming too dry in the oven. If you don't want to create the slits to vent the pie that is fine too.
mini samosa pot pies with tricolored marbled potatoes and peas
yields: around 8 X 4ounce mason jar pies
2 cups ( 9 7/8 ounces) Bob's Red Mill whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain kosher sea salt
7 tablespoons ( 3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
2 tablespoons greek yogurt (2% fat)
1/4 cup chilled water + you might need a little more
8 teaspoons water, chilled
1 large egg lightly mixed with 4 tablespoons water (at room temperature)
1 tablespoon nigella seeds (or black sesame/carom seeds can also be substituted)
1. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor attached with a dough blade. Cover with the lid and pulse for 5 seconds, four times to blend. Add the butter and yogurt and begin to pulse the ingredients. While the ingredients are mixing slowly drizzle the chilled water into the flour. Stop adding water until the dough starts to come together. You might need to add a little more water. The dough will be soft, transfer the dough to a cool and clean surface such as a marble pastry board. Using your hands, quickly bring the dough together to form one large ball and then flatten it into a disc and wrap in clingfilm. Allow the pastry to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using.
2. Place a wire rack at mid-level in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Unwrap the rested dough and divide it into 4 equal parts. Take one part of the dough and then cut it in half, roll one half to form a circle that's about 1 1/2 to 2 inches larger than the diameter of a 4 ounce mason jar . Cut in half and place one half over a potato and pea stuffed mason jar (4 ounce size), add one teaspoon of water to each jar and then press the edges of the pastry against the jar gently and trim off the excess pastry hanging from the edges. Prepare the rest of the filled jars in the same manner. Using a sharp paring knife cut three, 0.5 inch slits equally apart from each other in the center of the pastry. Brush the surface of the pastry of each jar with the egg wash and sprinkle with generous pinch of nigella seeds. Place the prepared jars on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 20 - 25 minutes until the surface of the pastry is golden. Serve hot. *** See my note above on the pie slits
Note: Any extra left over pastry can be reused.
tricolored marbled potatoes and pea filling
yield: enough for 8 X 4 ounce mason jars
2 tablespoons olive oil
32 ounces tricolored marbled potatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher sea salt
3/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper, freshly ground
3/4 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup red onion, chopped fine
2 inch piece ginger root, peeled and julienned into thin strips
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds freshly ground
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon lime juice, freshly squeezed
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan with a lid on medium-high. When the oil gets hot, add the potatoes and salt. Cover with the lid and allow to cook for about 8-10 minutes with occasional stirring until the potatoes are seared and just tender. Using a potato masher, lightly smash half of the potatoes in the saucepan.
2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add all the peas and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients from the onion to the garam masala and cook for one additional minute. Remove from stove and drizzle with lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Divide the filling equally between 8 clean 4 ounce mason jars. Prepare the pies as described earlier.