Monday, August 01, 2011

Sensational Samosas

Have you tasted ajwain? Also known as carom seed, this lovely little grayish-green seed is closely related to thyme and cumin. It has a very fragrant aroma, which comes alive when cooked, and it is used in small quantities in dishes because of its distinctively sharp, pungent taste. Although most prominently featured in Indian and Pakistani cuisine, ajwain was discovered first in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries, where it was used in Persian and Afghani cooking and as a digestive herbal remedy. Today ajwain is a common ingredient throughout the South Asian Subcontinent, where it is used in pickles for its preservative qualities and in vegetable dishes for its distinctive taste. It also compliments dals, parathas, rotis, and one of my favorite finger foods of all time—samosas. If you have an Indian grocery near in your city or town, you'll have no trouble finding ajwain. Even though we have a lovely little Indian grocery here, I get my organic ajwain seeds from Mountain Rose Herbs. You can order them online, too, by clicking here.

I tinkered with several different recipes before creating this lovely little dish. My husband said that these were the best samosas he'd ever eaten. I think part of the reason is that they are baked, instead of the more traditional way of making them, which is fried. Brushing them with a light coating of coconut oil also added an extra flavor dimension, and it never hurts to have the aroma of coconut oil wafting through the kitchen to whet the appetite.

I hope you'll try my recipe for samosas, and let me know what you think! 


For the dough:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ajwain
1 cup Original So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk Beverage (kefir) or Coconut Milk Yogurt

For the filling:

2 medium-size potatoes, diced
1 Tbs canola oil
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 cup onions, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp ginger, grated
1-2 tsp green chiles, finely chopped (optional)
1 cup green peas (fresh or thawed, if frozen)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup water
1 tsp coriander
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup raw cashews
oil for brushing*


To prepare the dough, mix the flour, salt, and ajwain seeds together in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center, and add the cultured coconut milk. Mix together to form a dough. Add extra flour if needed, to keep the dough from being sticky. Tightly wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the samosas.

To prepare the filling, peel potatoes and dice into 1/4 inch cubes. Place in a saucepan, cover with water, and boil until very soft. Drain and set aside. Some people like to mash their potatoes at this point. It facilitates the process of filling the samosas, but I find that if I dice them small enough, I don't need to mash. But either way is fine.

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add mustard and cumin seeds and stir fry for about 30 seconds until cumin turns darker brown and mustard seeds begin to pop. Add onions, garlic, ginger, and green chiles (if using) and saute over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes, or until onions are soft. Add the peas, potatoes, raisins, water, coriander, salt, garam masala, and lemon juice. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add cashews and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Remove from heat, uncover, and allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 400°. 

To assemble the samosas, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes until it is smooth and soft. Divide dough into 10 equal portions. Roll each portion between your hands to form smooth balls. Pour 1/4 cup water into a small bowl and set aside.

Roll each ball into a 6-inch circle and cut in half. Take one half, dip your finger into water, and run it along the straight edge. Fold in half, overlapping on end about 1/4 inch over the other, making a cone. Press to seal.

Fill the cone with potato filling. Dip finger in water and run along the inside of the cone mouth and press the lips together to seal. Plase each samosa as it is made on greased cookie sheet or silpat. Brush each samosa with coconut or vegetable oil.* Although non-traditional, I like to use coconut oil, for that little extra flavor dimension and wonderful aroma. Bake for 12-15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350°, turn the samosas over, brush the remaining sides with oil, and bake for 8-10 minutes more, until samosas are golden brown.

When samosas are done, serve immediately with mint or tamarind chutney. Makes 12 samosas.