It has always been a source of pride that I can make truly delicious samosas. Golden-brown purses of soft vegetables rife with aromas of the subcontinent, the crisp, bubbling skin in perfect harmony with the rich chew of the inner dough. Are ya with me here?
Last spring I was the unhappy recipient of allergy test results which stated in no uncertain terms my body’s intolerance for what can only be described as “the good stuff”. You know, wheat (and gluten while we’re at it), eggs, milk, cheese, cream, butter, and even mushrooms. I have held off on getting into all of this nonsense in my recipes as I still cook for a certain someone who happily enjoys “the good stuff”. But for nearly a year I have dutifully adhered to this dietary regime. And my physical and mental health is exponentially better for it. Oh there have been lapses of varying severity, during which I could be caught gleefully stuffing croissants into my face, but the painful consequences have done much to bolster my resolve.
There are times, however, when I run headlong into the sacrifices such an extreme change requires. Not so very long ago I attempted to recreate my glorious samosas substituting rice flour for wheat. Now I must caveat the following by saying quite simply, Gluten-free Girl I ain’t.
Unlike the masterfully talented Shauna, my forays into gluten-free cooking have been few, as most recipes seem to relay heavily on eggs for either elasticity or levity. Nor is my pantry stocked with what seems to be the requisite plethora of flours. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that what I imagined to be a simple matter of substitution quickly became a crumbling, mealy disaster.
As I stared in horror at the uncooperative mess before me, all those barely repressed feelings of deprivation and resentment came flooding out. In a moment of pure self pity, straight out of Like Water For Chocolate, I hung my head and literally cried into the dough.
My dears, this was not one of my happiest moments. While I made do with the help of wax paper and adjusting the perfect pyramid shape to something more resembling an empanada, these were without a doubt the saddest samosas. This was, however, something of a turning point for me. To dispel all the instances of “no” with a resounding “yes”, I am determined to become adept at gluten-free baking. I am determined to once again be the proud maker of the perfect samosa. I leave you with the original recipe in the hopes that you can enjoy it in all its glory.
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 Tbsp butter (1/2 stick)
- 2 Tbsp yogurt
- 1-3 Tbsp ice water
- 4 Tbsp veggie oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 Tbsp ginger, minced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 4-5 medium potatoes, diced and boiled
- 1 cup peas
- 1 hot green chili, finely diced
- 3 Tbsp cilantro, chopped fine
- 3 Tbsp water
- About 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- (All spices to taste):
- Garam masala
- Ground cumin
Enough neutral veggie oil (like canola or sunflower) to fry samosas in about 2-3 inches.
Method for Pastry:
Combine flour, salt and butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles the consistency of cornmeal. Sprinkle in the water and yogurt and run until a dough is formed. Wrap in plastic and let rest in the fridge.
Method for Filling:
In a large skillet or wok, heat 4 Tbsp or so of the veggie oil over medium heat. Add in the onions and saute until golden and tender, add the garlic and ginger and continue to saute for another minute or two. Add the spices and cook, stirring constantly until very aromatic but not burnt. If your peas are frozen, add them in now and cook until thawed, otherwise add with the following. Fold in the potatoes and chili, sprinkle with water, lemon juice and salt. Continue to cook for a few minutes before tossing in the cilantro. Stir to combine and remove from heat.
Method for Assembly and Frying:
While the filling cools, roll out the dough until it is about 1/8th of an inch thick. Cut into small triangles, squares or circles depending on your shape preference. In the center of each, place a dollop of filling. Dip your finger in water and run it along the seam before sealing.
In a deep frying pan or wok, heat enough neutral oil over medium-high to cover about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up your samosas. Test the oil with a bit of dough. It should bubble dramatically but not smoke. Using a slotted spoon, drop in your samosas and cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes or until golden-brown. Drain on a paper towel and serve warm with your favorite chutney or dipping sauce. (I made a quick cilantro and mint sauce, which I’m happy to post if anyone wants it). Enjoy!