Our theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week, where we are cooking with the fabulous Madhur Jaffrey for the next six months, is "Spice Bazaar". So many herbs and spices conjure up such wonderful memories for me. I told you last week about my grandmother's spice cupboard - in a time when you typically would not have found much other than a bit of ground cinnamon and ground ginger in the cupboards of your typical Kiwi housewife, this was a pretty unique feature. How I used to love the aromas of cumin, cardamom, turmeric and garam masala, smells which still transport me back to my childhood, though as a kid I never for a moment realised that wasn't the norm. Not content with just her packets of ground spices, my grandmother also kept a small kitchen garden at the back door. This wee garden always boasted several chilli plants, the ubiquitous clumps of parsley & mint, and lots of coriander plants. Of course she would use this fresh, but she would also deliberately allow some of the plants to go to seed so that she would have a constant supply of coriander seeds. Whilst such things might be common in many New Zealand gardens today, that was certainly not the case back then.
The other day I needed a bit of portable food to take to work for my dinner break. With a bit of filo pastry in the fridge that needed to be used up, I thought some Spicy Vegetable Samosas would fit the bill perfectly. Now do note that I am taking a bit of creative license here with the term samosa. A true samosa normally uses quite a unique pastry which, after filling and folding, is then deep fried. I'm still determined to give that a try, but on this occasion the filo was to hand, which made for a great substitute as well as saving on a bit of time.
The filling was delicious and "homely", and although I don't recall my grandmother ever making samosas, some similar kind of "savoury" - a flaky puff pastry case with a filling such as this - would have been far more likely to grace a plate for a gathering than the typical sausage roll. Personally, I found these to be only very mildly spiced on the heat scale. That said, the other mouth I feed declared them to be way too hot, so depending on your tastes you may want to cut back a bit on either the chilli or the cayenne pepper.
Spicy Vegetable Samosas Recipe
Adapted from a recipe by Madhur Jaffrey from
12 sheets filo pastry
4x medium sized potatoes (about 800g - 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 lb)
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
1/2 medium sized leek, thinly sliced
175g (6 oz) frozen peas, thawed
5cm (2 inch) piece fresh ginger, grated
1 small green chilli, deseeded & finely chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
juice of 1x lemon
Cut potatoes in half and boil in their skins until fork tender. Drain and set aside to cool completely. Once potatoes have cooled completely, remove skins and cut into small dice. You want the cubes of potato to be roughly the size of the peas.
Heat the 4 tablespoons of oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and fry until softened, and just barely beginning to turn golden. Add peas, ginger, chilli, fresh coriander and water. Stir for a few minutes until everything is well combined and peas are warm and tender.
Add potatoes, salt, ground coriander, garam masala, cumin, cayenne and lemon juice to the pan. Stir to combine, and cook over gentle heat for a few minutes, stirring from time to time. Taste and add a little more salt or lemon juice if necessary.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Lay sheets of filo pastry out on a clean tea towel on your kitchen bench. You will be working with one sheet at a time and, as sheets can dry out and become brittle very quickly, you should keep the remaining sheets of filo covered with a damp tea towel while you work.
Place a single filo sheet on another clean tea towel in front of you, and begin to fill and fold your pastries, following the directions in the following photos:
Lay sheet of filo on tea towel with long edge towards you and brush lightly with with oil
Fold in one third from one of the short ends, and then brush the folded-in section with a little more oil
Fold in the remaining third and again brush with a little oil
Place filling in a roughly "triangular" shape on the bottom left corner of the filo
Fold the bottom right corner of the filo over the filling
Now keep folding, end over end, until you get to the top.
Then fold the end over and brush with a little more oil to seal.
Once all the pastries have been folded, place them on a baking sheet, seam side down, brushing the top lightly with a little more oil. Put into a warm oven, preheated to 175 degrees C (350 degrees F), and bake until golden brown and crispy - about 35 minutes.
Remove from oven. Can be served hot straight from the oven, or these are just as good warm or at room temperature.
If you would like to get to know Madhur a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...
... or check out Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking and many of Madhur's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.
I am sharing this post this week with my friends Michelle at Ms. enPlace hosting See Ya In the Gumbo, and with April at The 21st Century Housewife hosting Gallery of Favourites.