Potato & Peas Samosas:

The Indian Samosa needs no introduction. Crispy pockets of spiced fillings served up with a zesty mint chutney and a sweet tamarind chutney. Dunk it, drizzle on it or just eat it the way it is, it makes for a very tasty snack. It is a popular street food and there are more ways to make it than there are places that sell it all over the country. 

I figured I’d start with the most common filling in a samosa. Potatoes and peas flavored with a few tongue tickling spices.

You will need: 
For the outer layer:
Makes: 20-22 medium sized samosas 

2 ½ cups All-purpose flour (Maida)
1 tsp Ajwain 
1 tsp Salt 
4 tbsp Ghee
 ½ - ¾ cup Water 

Combine all ingredients in a wide bowl. Add ½ cup water first and then add a teaspoon at a time as needed to make a soft dough. It should not be sticky and should be easily shaped into a ball. Cover and allow to rest for 1 hour. This resting period is important to help the dough relax and make it more pliable. Meanwhile prepare the filling.

 For the filling: 

2 medium sized potatoes, boiled until fork tender 
1/2 cup frozen/fresh green peas 
2 tbsp Oil 
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds 
1/2 tsp Fennel seeds 
1 tsp Green chili paste 
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder 
1 tsp Red chilli powder 
1 tsp Cumin powder 
1 tsp Corriander powder 
1/2 tsp Amchur powder 
1/4 tsp Garam masala 
Salt to taste 

Oil for frying 
Sharp knife 

Peel the potatoes, lightly mash and set aside. Heat oil in a pan. Add the cumin and fennel seeds. When it begins to splutter add the green chili paste and sauté for a few seconds. Now add the mashed potatoes and peas. Add the remaining ingredients (all the spice powders), season with salt and combine well. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool. 

The filling options are endless. Any dry filling can be used, sweet or savory. 

Shaping & Filling the Samosas: 

1. Knead the dough for a minute. Divide into 7-8 balls of dough. Flatten each ball and roll lengthwise. The key is to roll it thin so the samosas turn out crisp but thick enough to hold the filling in. Cut the rolled piece into half using a sharp knife. 

2. Wet the edges of a piece all around using a damp finger. With a quick twist of your hand attach the ends to form a cone. I will be honest here, this takes some practice. I had to do it at least a dozen times to get it right. 

3. With the sealed edge towards you, hold the cone between your fingers so it’s easy to fill. Place about 1-2 tbsp of the prepared Potato-Peas mixture and compress lightly. The more evenly you fill the better the shape of the samosa. 

4. Slightly pinch the top of the dough. 

5. Fold over the filling to create a seal. Gently press the edges together and lightly stretch it to create a ledge for the samosa to 'sit' on. The cone seal and this seal essentially form the ‘back bone’ of a samosa. 

6. You now have a perfectly shaped samosa. Don’t fret if it doesn’t turn out right the first time. Like I said before it takes some practice so do it over and over until you get it right. If you are obsessed like me about a perfectly shaped samosa that is. It will taste good no matter how it looks. 

Heat about 2 inches of oil in a deep pan for frying the samosas. The oil should be medium hot so the samosas cook slowly and all the way through. Fry the samosas until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. 

Serve hot with mint chutney, tamarind chutney and/or ketchup.

Pink Ombre Cakes for Valentine's Day

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, pinks and reds rule the air. Everywhere you look there is something in the color of love that catches the eye. I love me some pink and red, elegant and bold. 

I had long set my mind on trying an Ombre Cake. An Ombre cake is basically layers of cake in different shades of one color.Visually stunning. 

It was only fitting that I did an Ombre cake in the shape of mini hearts. I used a light and airy vanilla cake recipe with a fine moist crumb paired with a very easy and simple buttercream. 

You will need:

4 cake pans of same size or two 8” and two 9” round cake pans

Electric stand or hand-held mixer

4 mixing bowls
2 ½ -inch Heart shaped cookie cutter

Pink food color gel

Yields: 5 cups batter
Makes: Two 8-inch or 9-inch cakes

2 ½  cups cake flour
2 ½  tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½  tsp salt

4 eggs at room temp
1 ½  cups sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk at room temp

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare baking pans by greasing and flouting them. Set aside.

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the eggs on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add the sugar and beat for another 30 seconds. Add the vanilla and oil, beat until combined.

Turn the mixer to low speed and add half the flour, beat until combined followed by half the buttermilk. Repeat with remaining flour mix and buttermilk. Scrape down sides and beat only until combined. The batter will be thin.

Divide batter into 4 mixing bowls. A cup of batter each in two bowls and a cup and a half in the other two. Color the batter starting for the lightest. The key here is to get differentiating shades going from light to dark. I started with a tiny drop of gel on a toothpick and added more until I got the shade I liked.

Pour the batter into prepared cake pans and bake for 15-17 minutes until springy to the touch and the cake begins to leave the sides of the pan. Cool layers in pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Once cooled, using a sharp knife trim the top part of the cake. You need an even layer. Do the same for all 4 cakes. Using the cookie cutter cut out hearts from each layer. I was able to get around 5 from each. Save the scraps to make cake truffles or just eat them as is!

Easy Buttercream:

This is the easiest icing I've come across and has become my go-to recipe. It's a commonly used icing too. Whenever mom made it during her baking classes, I remember my bro and I used to fight over the icing bowl. Good enough to eat with a spoon!

You will need:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted*
2-3 tbsp Milk
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Vanilla extract

*Note: Sift the powdered sugar and then measure out 4 cups. This ensures the icing is smooth and not gritty and also gives you the right amount needed for the recipe. Powdered sugar tends to settle in the bag, sifting aerates it.

Cream the butter, vanilla and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Turn the mixer to low and add the powdered sugar, a cup at a time. Now add the milk and beat for 3 minutes on medium until combined well and icing is smooth. Add more or less milk to achieve desired consistency. Thin icing is good for spreading on cakes and cupcakes. A firmer icing is ideal for decorating using tips.

I used Wilton Tip #18 to make flat shells at an angle to fill the heart and added a few silver dragees. The decoration part is left to your imagination.

Assemble the hearts:

Starting with the lightest shade on the bottom, apply icing in between the layers and assemble the hearts to form 4 layers of cake. Decorate the top. I went very light on the icing in between since the cakes are small and the layers thin.

The cakes can be stored in an air-right container for a day on the counter top and upto 3 days in the refrigerator.

Wishing all of you a love-filled Valentine’s Day :)

Spinach & Paneer Layered Rice

We love all things Paneer in our household. Wait, don’t give me that ‘it’s high calorie and unhealthy’ look. If you’ve been reading my blog from the start you would know I’m no stickler for ‘healthy’ stuff and enjoy all foods in moderation :)  Chili Paneer, Mutter Paneer, Palak Paneer, Rasmalais, Rasgollas have run their course more times than I can count.  My younger brother enjoys it a lot more than any of us combined. So this post is dedicated to Ju for his love of Paneer. 

I was on the lookout for a different way to combine Rice & Paneer. I came across this recipe by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. It’s a baked dish and uses very simple ingredients. I spruced it up a bit to suit our tastes, we like things spicy and flavorful. 

Trust me, this tastes just as good as it looks. 

You will need:

5 Cups cooked Basmati Rice
10-inch Springform pan
2 large pans

For the Green layer:
2 cups Spinach puree (blanched spinach, pureed)
2 tbsp Oil
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp Red chili powder
½ cup Paneer, crumbled (click here to make Paneer at home)
¼ tsp Garam Masala
½ tsp Kasoori Methi (dried Fenugreek leaves)
Salt to taste

For the Red Layer:

1 tbsp Oil
½- ¾ cup Tomato-Basil Marinara (from a jar)
½ cup cubed Red bell pepper
½ cup Paneer, crumbled
½ tsp Sugar
½ tsp Kasoori Methi (dried Fenugreek leaves)
Salt to taste

Heat oil in two separate pans for the two layers. In one pan, add the cumin seeds and when they begin to splutter add ginger garlic paste and saute until fragrant. Add the chopped onions and cook until translucent. Now add the spinach puree, red chilli powder, salt to taste and Kasoori Methi. Saute for a few minutes until the oil begins to bubble to the top. Don’t cook for long since you want the bright green to stay intact. Stir in the crumbled paneer and lastly add the Garam masala. Add half the cooked rice (2 ½ cups) to the spinach mix and combine well. Turn off heat and set aside briefly. 

To the other pan, add the cubed bell pepper and cook until soft. Add the marinara, crumbled paneer and sugar. Add the kasoori methi and sugar. Bring to a simmering boil. Now add the remaining rice and season with salt. Combine to coat the grains of rice well. You can add more marinara if you feel the rice is dry.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Now the layering part. The fun part. I used a 10-inch Spring form pan. A spring form pan has a bottom that comes part from the sides of the pan. This is widely used in layered desserts and to bake sponge cakes which are delicate and fragile. I have a non-stick spring form pan so didn’t need to grease it. If you don’t have a spring form pan, don’t go find one just for this. An oven safe glass bowl or dish will work just fine.

Evenly spread the green rice on the bottom of the pan compressing the rice using a spatula. This ensures it forms a layer that is firm and holds when unmolded from the pan. Top with the red rice in an even layer compressing again. 

Place filled pan on a baking sheet and bake in a pre- heated oven for 5-6 minutes. This process heats the layers thoroughly and brings the flavors together. Let pan cool slightly before trying to remove the ring (sides of pan). Do It slowly so as to not disturb the layers and you have a clean finish on the exterior.

This rice is good eaten as is and needs no accompaniments. The paneer tastes refreshingly different combined with the marinara and the spinach flavored rice adds a nice touch of color. I know my brother is drooling looking at the rice, hope to make it for him someday.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin