Wednesday, March 24, 2010

indian invasion

Motivation-schmotivation, Crashley.  How's THIS for "lazy ass"?!? 

A long, long time ago, I hosted two college girlfriends for lunch.  The Menu?  Fennel-Scented Potato & Spinach Samosas, Mint-Cumin Raita, Chana Masala, and Orange-Curry Pots de Creme.  Served with na'an, courtesy of Whole Foods, brown basmati rice, and sparkling cranberry cider.  Why sparkling cider?  Because secretly everyone loves sparkling cider and grape juice!  Don't you try to deny it!  ...and because one of my honored guests was baking her own little bun in the oven, which was cause to celebrate!  Mimosas will have to wait.

My goal was to have as little stress & hassle on Sunday morning before my girlfriend's came.  The chana can be made ahead of time, and then re-heated on the stove.  This recipe came together so fast!  The most time-consuming aspect is chopping and prep-work.  Definitely an easy meal, and one who's ingredients are almost all "pantry staples!"  It's a win-win!!  

The samosa filling was done earlier, too.  But, due to the fragile nature of the phyllo dough, I didn't want to risk any tearing or sogginess.  

I had to wilt in the spinach in 2 batches, as the pan was simply not big enough!  Also, please join me in embracing the skin-on technique for potatoes.  Not only does it hold tons of nutrients, but it also adds great color and texture.  That and... um... who wants to waste time peeling potatoes?  Which means one more thing to clean when all is said an done and... just eat the skins!

Assembly was fairly easy: about 1-2tbsp of filling goes at the bottom, and you fold it up as a triangle.  Kinda like how you see people folding a flag?  You know... NJROTC and stuff?  Just like that.

In the past, I have used an empanada dough recipe for these (laziness: it's the theme of this post.)  Both came out wonderfully, though these are definitely better.  Though I want to try other filling recipes, I was reluctant to depart from an old favorite.... maybe next time?

I also made a raita, or yogurt-based dipping sauce.  This had cumin, mint, grated cucumber, salt & pepper with a Greek yogurt base.  And prob alil' cayenne.  Just for fun.

Fennel-Scented Spinach and Potato Samosas
Adapted from Epicurious, makes about 30

1/2 pound red potatoes (about 5, each about 2 inches in diameter)
1tbsp fennel seeds
1tbsp ground cumin
1tsp turmeric
1/2tsp garam masala
sprinkle of cayenne (to taste)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 jalapeño chilies, chopped fine*
2" piece of gingerroot, peeled and finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1lb fresh spinach
~3/4c frozen peas
ten 17- by 12-inch phyllo sheets, thawed
1 stick butter, melted
egg whites**

For filling:
In a saucepan, bring salted water to a boil and simmer potatoes, about 12 minutes, (should be barely tender.) Drain in a colander and allow to cool.  Cut potatoes into 1/2"*** dice. In a large, heavy skillet, dry-roast fennel seeds, cumin, garam masala, and turmeric over moderate heat, until fragrant and several shades darker, (~2 minutes.)  Stir frequently and be careful not to burn them.  Add oil, onion, chilies, ginger, and garlic and cook until onion is softened, (~5 minutes.)  Add potatoes, peas and spinach and saute over medium-high heat, stirring until spinach is wilted but still bright green & all is combined.  Add cayenne, salt and pepper to taste. 

Filling may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

To assemble & bake:
Preheat oven to 400F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Lay out 1 phyllo sheet on surface (I used the plastic the dough was wrapped in as a placemat, of sorts) with the long side facing you.  Brush lightly with butter, top with another phyllo sheet and brush lightly with butter. Cut phyllo length-wise (or, "hot dog bun-style"****) in half.  Spoon ~1tbsp filling (maybe more, you judge!) near one corner of each strip.  Fold corner of phyllo over to enclose filling and form a triangle. Continue folding strip, maintaining triangle shape.  Put samosa, seam side down, on the baking sheet, with about a 1/2" gap between them.  Make as many more samosas as humanly possible with the remaining phyllo and filling.*****  Brush top with egg whites or butter (optional).

Bake samosas in middle of oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Typing this makes me VERY sad I don't have one of these right now. 

*WEAR GLOVES!  Or else you will burn your eyes when you touch them 3hrs later!!
**I had a ton of egg whites leftover from the dessert, so decided to brush the tops of the samosas with them.  Works!
***1/2"... 3/4" whatever.  I don't judge your potato-cubing preference/laziness.
****Holla for the kindergarten directions!!
*****Samosas may be prepared up to this point 6 hours ahead and chilled, covered with plastic wrap.

Chana Masala
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, Serves 6

1tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2tsp fresh ginger, grated or minced
1 jalapeno or other hot green chili pepper, minced
1tbsp ground coriander*
4tsp ground cumin**
1/2tsp ground cayenne pepper
1tsp ground turmeric

2tsp paprika
1tsp garam masala
1 15oz can whole tomatoes w/ juices, chopped small*** 
2/3c water
2 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 lemon (juiced)****

Heat oil in a large skillet or saucepan.  Add onion, garlic, ginger and pepper and sauté over medium heat until browned, (~5 minutes.)  Turn heat down to med-low and add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, paprika, and garam masala.  Cook for 1-2minutes, then add the tomatoes and any accumulated juices.  Add water and chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then stir in salt and lemon juice.

*TOTALLY forgot I had some of this & didn't want to get home to find myself without it soooooo..... I now have 2 things of ground coriander.  Fan-freakin-tastic. 
**Recipe calls for 2tsp cumin powder and 2tsp cumin seeds toasted & ground.  I didn't have cumin seeds so I just went crazy with the powder.
***Or, 2c fresh tomatoes
****Used a whole lemon to swap for the amchoor powder since I didn't have that.  If you do, add 1tbsp with the rest of the spices.  


The Pots de Creme were the same ones that I made for Valentine's Day.  Only THIS time, I actually baked at the correct temperature and allowed to cool.  And holy hell, did that make a difference!  It's like eating straight fudge/ganache!  Wa -hoooo rich!  Still awesome.  For the recipe & reference, see original post


  1. I'm pretty sure this is within the definition of "lazy-ass." Your friends came over like a month ago. I stand by my original statement.

    (Yes, I posted this on Buzz AND on your site).