Adapt samosas to phyllo pastry, sweet potatoes

My latest podcast made passing mention of samosas, that quintessential Indian street food.

The context was adapting recipes to any palate, and my suggestion to add a peas to a soup-turned-stew composed primarily of sweet potatoes. The combination of potatoes and peas, of course, constitutes the most popular filling combination for samosas, which migrated from the Middle East to the Indian subcontinent so long ago that they’ve become far more associated with the latter region than the former.

A vegetarian samosa has broad appeal in a country with plenty of vegetarians, although a beef version from Pakistan was featured on the front page of last week’s Savvy Living section (see the e-edition) with instructions for homemade dough. This blog also posted in 2014 a version using phyllo, as the below recipe suggests, and the aforementioned sweet potatoes.

Here’s the recipe touted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s story, which anchored the March 10 Savvy Living section. I’ve also added the mint chutney recipe acknowledged as samosas’ de rigueur dipping sauce.

Tribune News Service photo

Potato and Pea Samosas

1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as sunflower, plus more for brushing samosas or optional frying

1 teaspoon mustard seeds (any color)

1 green chili, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon Indian chili powder (see note)

1 teaspoon mango powder (amchur; optional)

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

2/3 cup fresh or frozen peas

5 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed

1 package phyllo sheets, thawed, or homemade samosa dough

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds. Once they begin to pop, stir in the green chili, salt, chili powder or cayenne, optional mango powder and garam masala; mix well.

Add the peas and cook until they are softened, for 1 minute for frozen or 5 to 6 minutes for fresh. Add the mashed potatoes, mix well and cook 2 minutes until well-combined. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

If using the phyllo dough or you wish to bake homemade dough, preheat oven to 350 F; phyllo should be baked. Take 1 sheet of phyllo, covering remaining sheets with a damp towel. Fold phyllo in thirds, lengthwise, and brush edges with water. Place 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons potato mixture about 1 inch from 1 end and fold over to form a triangle. Continue folding as you would a flag, tucking last edge into slot formed by sheet.

If using homemade dough, divide dough into 10 balls. Roll out each ball into a thin circle. Cut each circle in half and moisten edges with water, using your finger. Place 1 tablespoon filling in center of each semicircle and fold dough over in half, sealing edges.

If baking, place samosas on a lightly greased baking sheet (brush oil over tops of samosas if using phyllo). Bake in preheated oven until golden-brown, for about 25 to 30 minutes.

If frying, heat at least 3 inches oil to 375 F and fry 2 or 3 samosas at a time until golden-brown on both sides, about 3 or 4 minutes.

Makes about 20 servings.

NOTE: Indian chili powder is not related to American chili powder, which is not a substitute. It is available at international food markets. If you do not have it, use 1/4 teaspoon or more of cayenne pepper.

Recipe adapted by Tribune News Service from “Chai, Chaat & Chutney,” by Chetna Makan.


Mint Chutney

1 3/4 ounces mint leaves

1 3/4 ounces cilantro leaves

1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped

3 small green chilies, stemmed

4 garlic cloves, peeled

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. This chutney can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe from “Chai, Chaat & Chutney,” by Chetna Makan.

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