As a child, I used to love watching my father cook. There are times when a parent teaches their child to cook using words and measurements and instructions, but most of what I learned from my father came through simply watching him make his way around the kitchen. His hands: strong and precise, swift and sure; rugged enough to hold a searing pan and nimble enough to wield the sharpest knife without ever destroying the delicate foods he prepared. There’s an odd duality about the detail and complexity that he brings to everything he touches and yet somehow, the simplicity with which he does it is all that you remember.
I think the first real moment that I began watching my father in the kitchen was while we lived in the Philippines. There was a certain unimpeded bravery in the way he tossed the strange and foreign ingredients around the wok and boiled our white rice to fluffy perfection in an impossibly over-sized steel pot; the unmeasured precision with which he blended those new and exotic spices. Whether feeding our family alone, or with the addition of the 25-30 other locals who lived with us, there seemed to be no difference whatsoever in the care and detail that he infused into each meal.
This is how I learned about food. There were no recipes or lessons. No charts or measurements. It was all in the “watching”.
But if you asked me what the most important thing that I learned about food from my father was, I wouldn’t say anything about flour or salt, or ovens or vegetables. I’d tell you how my father taught me that we cannot ever think of food as our own. It must always be ‘ours’, ‘yours’ and ‘theirs’. Food must not be owned and kept, it has to be shared.This recipe is dedicated to my Father, with all it’s exotic spices and intricate detail. Dad, my hope is that someday I will command the kitchen with all the skill and elegance that you do….
If you’ve ever had Samosas, then you already know why I’m doing this post. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, then please let me introduce you to them. Samosas are the most wonderful fried Indian pastry EVER! No exaggerations. Traditionally they are filled with potatoes, onions, peas, lentils, lamb or chicken. Most often they are served with a sweet tamarind chutney and spicy green chili chutney, accompanied by a few fried green chili’s. Here I got a little crazy and paired them with a fresh rhubarb chutney…SHOCKING, I know!
I set out to make these samosas both grain and potato free. Now, out of respect for the brilliance of the traditional samosa I will say that if you ever have the chance to try them in their original form you really MUST! Just go ahead and ignore the gluten, the potatoes and the killer hydrogenated oils. Like the “Nike” commercials say, “Just Do It”! (and deal with the fall out later.) However, if you are like me and the “fall out” is just too hefty of a price to pay….then my promise to you is, these little guys will absolutely do the trick!
Samosas W/Rhubarb Chutney
For the filling:
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or oil of choice)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon whole brown mustard seed
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 cups finely diced butternut squash or sweet potato
1 teaspoon grated ginger
3 tablespoons finely chopped green chili’s (1/2 Poblano pepper or 1 small Serrano)
2-3 tablespoons baby green peas (optional but VERY good)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups organic palm shortening (or oil of choice for frying)
Note: I use a small pot for frying and fry 2 samosas at a time. If you use a larger pot, you may need more oil for frying. You need approximately 3 inches of oil total.
Note: Butternut squash is best peeled using a strong stainless steel vegetable peeler.
Method for filling:
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the squash, bring back to a boil and continue to cook until just tender, soft but not mushy. Remove from heat and strain the squash. Set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, mix together the ground coriander seed, cumin, mustard seed, masala, and turmeric.
Heat the coconut oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the onions, cooking till golden. Add the spices, mixing well and frying for about 1 minute.
Add the butternut squash, ginger, chili’s, peas and lemon juice to the spice mixture and fry everything together for another 2 minutes or so. If you want a mellower pepper flavor, add them early on when you fry the onions. Season with salt then tow in the cilantro.
For the dough:
3 cups blanched fine ground almond flour
1/2 tsp salt (or just slightly under that amount)
1/4 cup coconut oil (or oil of choice), softened or liquid
1/2 tablespoon honey
2 large room temp eggs (about 3.34 ounces/94 grams)
In a large bowl, combine the almond flour and salt. Mix well. In another bowl beat together the oil, honey and eggs. Add the liquid mixture to the almond flour and mix until all the ingredients are combined. Once combined, continue to knead the dough with your hands until it becomes smooth and the ‘stickiness’ is gone. Keep the dough wrapped in parchment paper when not in use.
Dough is most workable in a room that is 75 degrees or less. I have found that a very warm room can cause the coconut oil to separate from the dough making it both difficult to wok with and more prone to ‘cracking’. Otherwise the dough is quite easy to work with.
To assemble: See instructions below. These Samosas are best eaten with a chutney, as the almond flour pastry is a bit dryer than when made with wheat flour.
For the rhubarb chutney:
1/2 cup chopped rhubarb
1/2-1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger (depends on how spicy you like it)
1/3 cup filtered water
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a small pot. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the mixture thickens. If you like it thinner, just add a little water or lemon juice before serving.
Instructions For Folding And Frying Samosas…
1. On a sheet of parchment paper, roll out the dough to about 1/8 of an inch thick.
Cut out a circle that is approx 6 inches round. I like to use the lid of a small sauce pan to do this.
Next, cut each circle in half (not shown in pictures). Each 6 inch circle will give you two medium sized samosas. ( keep unused dough covered).
Carefully lift the parchment paper and peel it away from one of the circle halves. Continue with the instructions below, then repeat with the other half.
2. Bring together the corners of the semi circle & gently press together the two flat edges, creating a small seam (not shown). The dough will be in the shape of a cone (as seen in the photo).
Try to keep the overlap as minimal as possible to ensure even frying/baking. Be sure that the seam is well sealed so that it will not break open during cooking.
3. Fill the cone with about 1 tablespoon of filling (or less if you feel it will be too full to close and seal). You don’t want the dough to have to stretch when you are sealing the samosa.
If the samosa has too much filling , it will not seal well and the dough might also crack. You will get a feel for the right amount after the first one is made.
4. To close the samosa, fold the remaining opening of the cone and gently press to seal. If you feel that it is not going to hold well you can use a little water around the edge of the circle to help it stick. However this is not usually necessary.
Set aside and repeat with the remaining dough. Keep the finished samosas on a layer of parchment paper, covered with a paper towel or flour sack towel so that they don’t stick or dry out and crack.
5. To fry: Using a thermometer, heat the oil in a small sauce pan (or larger one with more oil if you are making a lot of them) to between 330 and 350 degrees.
Gently drop the samosa in the hot oil, frying till it turns a nice golden color. This only takes a few minutes as almond flour browns very quickly. Turn the samosa around in the hot oil a few times to ensure even cooking on both sides.
Remove with a metal slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel.
To Bake: Lightly brush the tops of the samosas with egg wash (1 large egg beaten with 1/2 tablespoons water) then bake on a parchment lined baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until golden and crispy.
THE SIMPLE FOLD VERSION: To make a ‘simple’ samosa, use a 3 inch circle cookie cutter to cut the dough. Place a little filling inside, than simply fold the circle over and use a fork to press and seal the edges.