Last weekend, we took a trip to Tahoe. As is my habit, I commandeered the cooking duties, such as they were: dinner on Friday night, and a couple of fairly easy breakfast items (really only eggs and biscuits, because I am weird and enjoy custom-cooking eggs). The only wrinkle in this plan was that half of our group would be vegetarian– I had to think of something that was palatable to all and a good fit for the non-meat-eaters. And an entree (and corresponding appetizer) was born! (Or conceived of, whatever.)
From the magic of the internets, we have a recipe for samosas. I’ve served them as both appetizer and side, and they are delightful either way. This recipe was the first time I’ve made them from scratch (minus the wrappers, which turned out semi-disastrously when I tried making them myself– just wrap the filling up in triangles of store-bought puff pastry).
1.5 cups peeled, cubed, and boiled potatoes
.5 cup peas
2 tbsp Amchur powder or Chaat masala
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp Garam Masala
Salt to taste
Grind together: .25 cup fennel seeds, .25 cup coriander seeds, 4-5 red chilies, 3-4 curry leaves
Mix together all of the above ingredients. Use as much or as little of the ground spice mix as you’d like– the above amounts make quite a bit, so it might be too potent depending on your taste.
Scoop a heaped tablespoon of the filling into each puff pastry triangle.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
From my Bon Appetit “Every-Night Cooking” cookbook, we have Peas and Potatoes Masala (the carnivores had to deal with sauteed chicken breasts), a dish that is spicy only in that it contains spices, but I had little to no hope of making something with any degree of kick if I wanted anyone to eat it (yeah, I know that sentence was longer than it needed to be).
.25 cup vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 14.5-oz. cans diced tomatoes in juice
2 6- to 7-oz. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into .5-inch cubes
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground allspice
12 oz. firm or extra-firm tofu, drained well and cut into .5-inch pieces
3 cups frozen peas, thawed
.5 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Heat oil in a heacy, large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute until golden– about 6 minutes.
Add tomatoes with juices, potatoes, cumin, and allspice. Cover and simmer until potatoes are just tender, stirring occasionally– about 8 minutes.
Add tofu, peas, and cilantro. Simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender– about 6 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!
And now, the wrap-up for both:
Were the recipes easy to follow?
Yep– each left a good amount of room for improvisation, and I felt comfortable doing so because there wasn’t any mystical cooking technique going on. It all amounted to “cut up some things, measure out other things, mix them up, add heat,” which makes for an easy-to-follow recipe and plenty of room for variation.
Did the dishes taste good?
They were both hits! Even for a crowd that had some members that were wary of Indian cuisine, they scarfed it right down. Fun tip for cooking for a bunch of people: wait to serve dinner until about 9, and make sure they have had plenty to drink. They will love whatever you cook! Seriously, though, it was just as good– nay, better!– the next day.
Would you make it again?
Absolutely! I might leave out the tofu and include a few more veggies– there were a lot of peas involved. Maybe some eggplant or squash next time?