Indian Snack| Chicken Mince Cocktail Samosas

“This is a 230-calorie snack you know. See? I’ve worked hard.”
Fernando Vargas

How often do you rant because you decide to make something that takes up hours of work, leaves you in throws of misery, & yet plants a BIG smile on your face afterwards? After so much of a sugar high, a savoury platter does feel good. I wanted to try making savoury tuiles too for the Daring Bakers challenge for January ’09, but somehow, it never ‘happened‘. All I managed were the sweet version here. Happily though, these crisp, yummy pastry bites called SAMOSAShappened’ a short while ago though. These are wonderful, crisp, deep-fried, YES deep-fried, Chicken Mince Cocktail Samosas. Samosas are typically Indian street food, & you will find fresh samosas being fried at every corner you go around, or at a ‘Halwai’ - an Indian sweet-maker, baker & deep-fryer! LOL. Usually stuffed with a mixture of boiled potatoes, peas, raisins, cashew nuts & cottage-cheese, given a mighty kick with Indian masalas/spices & some green chilies thrown in, samosas are deep-fried Indian pastry. They are very enjoyable indeed on a cold winter day, even better on a rainy day. As most street food in India is usually vegetarian, it isn’t often that you will find non-vegetarian fare on the street. Yet, chicken mince is a popular & much loved filling in this Indian pastry, often served as cocktail snacks at parties, especially weddings. The normal accompaniment is a Green Chutney, or a Tamarind Chutney. My kids devour these absolutely delicious bites with a Yogurt-Coriander-Garlic Dip! Aaaaaah, the flavours of Asia! This recipe is a wonderful one, that comes from my dear friend who is knee deep in snow in Ukraine at the moment. We were chatting some time back, & she was groaning under the weight of having to make 40 samosas (regular big sized ones) for a school fund-raiser. She volunteered (stupidly) to make them, & then she saw herself rolling pastry till kingdom came. I told her she was a fool to get talked into doing all the dirty work… blah blah blah blah blah… Pretty soon, one fine day, madness struck me, & I decided to make them. Lunacy hit me in greater proportions though, because I talked myself into making small mini samosas, or ‘cocktail samosas’ as they are called. Mini samosas = Much more work! Roll, baby, roll…O woebegone me. I cursed myself, cursed her, cursed whichever poor soul crossed my path that day. It ain’t no easy task to roll so many small ones out, & then try & stuff the blighters…but HEY, I did it! What satisfaction once I was all done. Be forewarned that it is a load of hard-work, & you can use spring roll wrappers to make life easier for you. But once done, & a batch fried, it was well worth every bit of effort. Scrumptious treat in every bite. The mince was delicately flavoured; no spices/masalas; just right! These are best served hot, just like French fries…CHICKEN COCKTAIL SAMOSAS

You can even make these into bigger, regular sized ones if you like.
Ingredients:
Pastry (I eyeball the amounts, so what I’ve written below is an approximation)
Flour – 1 1/2 cups
Clarified butter – 1-2 tbsps
Water to knead this to a firm, smooth dough

Filling

Chicken mince – 250 gms
Garlic – 5-6 cloves; chopped fine
Onion – 1 small; chopped fine
Fresh coriander – 1 bunch; chopped fine
Green chili – 1-2; chopped fine
Salt to taste
Method:
Pastry
  • Rub the clarified butter into the plain flour with your fingertips to distribute it evenly. Gradually add water & bring the dough together. Knead it till its firm & smooth, & leave to rest for about 30 minutes.
  • A firm dough is important to get a crisp, thin, almost translucent pastry.
Filling
  • Heat 2-3 tbsps of oil in a pan. Sweat the onion & garlic for 2-3 minutes, till translucent.
  • Add the mince & saute on high heat till cooked through & dry.
  • Add the coriander + green chilies + salt to taste. Make sure the water is completely dry or the samosas will get soggy.
  • Once done, cool the filling completely. (The filling can be made a day in advance)
Making them…
  • Pinch a small piece of dough, make a ball & roll it out as thin as you can (dust with as little dry flour as possible).
  • Cut out circles with a 3″ cookie cutter. To make triangles, half the circles. To make semi-circles or small balls, leave them uncut.
  • Place a teaspoon of filling in the centre of each & fold as desired, sealing the edges firmly with a little water. Make sure you seal them well, or the filling will spill out while frying.
  • Heat the oil in a deep heavy bottom pan/wok/kadhai to almost smoking (just like you do for doughnuts), & fry in small batches till light brown. At this stage you can remove from oil, cool & freeze for later use, or continue to fry till golden brown. Once golden brown, place on paper towels for 5-10 seconds for extra oil to be absorbed. Serve HOT with a chutney, green or tamarind, or with a Cilantro-yogurt dip.
  • Recipe for Green Coriander-Mint Chutney here
  • Recipe for Yogurt-Coriander-Garlic Dip here
  • Note: The recipe makes a largish batch of almost 60-80 small samosas, so you can use half, & freeze half for later.

Alternate filling suggestions: Crumbled cottage cheese; boiled/mashed & spiced potatoes, any other mince; cooked/sauteed/mashed lentils. Maybe even a sweet filling like marzipan & poppy seed, dehydrated berries, raisins & firm cheese.

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CRACKERS WITH CREAM CHEESE…& a bit on BLOGGER AID

“The Super Bowl is the No. 1 snack food consumption day of the year”
Frito Lays

Made these super easy snacks the other day … great as finger food, & they disappeared as fast as I made them. You can flavour them as creatively as you like, choosing different toppings. The ones I made had a sour cream & onion flavoured topping. I think buttermilk ranch dressing might add an interesting twang to them as well. You can also substitute the cream cheese for finely grated cheddar. Or, if you are lucky to get the brown sugar or honey butter variety, pipe on some peanut butter, or cream cheese topped with candied nuts…the possibilities are endless. Make an assorted platter! S I M P L E to make & ready as fast as you can pipe the cream cheese out, throw on the garnishing & you are set! Actually ltook me more time to click pictures, than it took to make them. They are on their way to Cathy @ Noble Pig for favourite crowd-pleasing Super Bowl recipes, the criteria being taste, originality and ease of preparation! She says, they should be ‘Basically, yummy and easy to eat food’. Here we get just the salted variety sold under the brand name of Monaco, Salto or Snacks Zig Zags. One of the more popular varieties sold overseas are Ritz crackers. Ritz crackers are a type of cracker designed to be eaten on their own, or with a topping. The Ritz Cracker Brand is made by a subsidiary of Kraft Foods. They are circular in shape, salted lightly on one side, and have small scalloping around the edges. Ritz were created in 1928 by the National Biscuit Company (or Nabisco). Ritz were probably named as such because anything glamorous, classy, or fancy was previously referred to as “ritzy”.[ Ritz can be found at the elegant Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where it is still a regular feature on the menu. Ritz crackers are available in the US in the following varieties: Original, Low Sodium, Reduced Fat, Whole Wheat, Roasted Vegetable and Honey Butter.

CRACKERS WITH CREAM-CHEESE
My recipe
Ingredients:
Yogurt – 1 kg; hung for 24 hours
Cream – 2 tbsp
Sour cream & Onion cream cheese/cheese spread – 2 tbsps
Juice of 1 lime
Salt & pepper to taste
Finely chopped bell peppers, spring onions with greens, fresh coriander etcMethod:

  • Whip the hung yogurt with the cream + cream cheese/cheese spread + juice of lime. Season with salt & pepper.
  • Put into a zip bag , snip off the corner in an inverted M, or use a big star nozzle & pipe cream cheese straight onto the crackers. Garnish with chopped peppers etc. These crackers are also headed for Original Recipes @ Culinarty for Lore’s ongoing event.

On another note, Ivy of Kopiaste.. to Greek Hospitality , Giz of Equal Opportunity Kitchen and Val of More Than Burnt Toast unveiled an ambitious project for our Social Network Bloggeraid to launch a cookbook. In their words…Food is our medium and taking a role in alleviating world famine is our mission. Our wish is that you will share our excitement and help make a difference to our world by joining us on this journey. We have announced our largest fundraiser to date ever!!!! With the help of Gloria Chadwick from Cookbook Cuisine , a member of Bloggeraid, we will be publishing a cookbook with 100% of the profit from sales being directed to our chosen agency. The funds we raise will be directed to specific programs of The World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations frontline agency. The needs are great and choosing a specific effort is currently being negotiated.This side, ‘Oven Roasted Baby Potatoes & French Beans’ is en route to BloggerAid for their special cookbook. The recipes for this event will be found within the pages of the book once it is published. Want to join in? Check out the link here.

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LAVASH CRACKERS AGAIN, WITH A ROASTED BELL PEPPER DIP…GUILT-FREE SNACKING!!

“Good taste is as tiring as good company.”
Francis Picabia
There’s something about these crackers. Never has guilt free snacking been this indulgent, this happy! Munch till you drop? These crackers take food addiction to a new level…no stops here. This is the only time I’ve actually repeated a Daring Baker challenge, that too, more than once. The vegan lavash crackers continue to entice me. The dip I made this time is inspired by the one I saw at Meeta @ What’s For Lunch Honey? . The look of it had me absolutely mesmerised…the Ajvar dip; a Middle Eastern eggplant & roasted bell pepper dip. However, I have quite an aversion for eggplant, & have never taken well to it for some strange reason. A lot of people love eggplant, & though I’ve been brave enough to try it a couple of times, it just didn’t work for me. So, I made my dip with roasted bell peppers, & threw in a few roasted tomatoes to add flavour. Meeta served the dip with crackers sprinkled with zatar, a herby middle eastern spice, which I enviously don’t have. I did have the other one she used, called sumac, a tangy spice made from red berries. The lavash recipe is as simple as crackers can possibly be, & once you master the art of getting the dough consistency right & rolling it out really thin, there’s nothing that can come between you & this addictive cracker. The first time I made them for the DB challenge, I did 2 variants, sweet & savoury, & they were both delicious. (I did a sweet cinnamon & brown sugar lavash with slivered almonds; the savoury version was with alternate rows of black & white sesame seeds…fun, fun, fun!)This time I made 2 savoury versions…a Middle Eastern & an Italian. The Middle Eastern ones were tamed into diamond shapes but the Italian ones were broken into shards. Addictive & yum, both of them! I preferred the ones with red chili flakes, roasted garlic & a sprinkling of Italian grill herbs. The jagged edges of the shards won me over!

Roasted Bell Pepper & Garlic Dip
as adapted from Ajvar Dip @ Meeta’s What’s For Lunch Honey?
Ingredients

Red bell peppers -3

Tomatoes -2
Garlic cloves – 3-4

A small bunch of chopped coriander leaves
Juice of 1/2 lime
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Olive oil – 1 tbsp
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Green chili – 1-2/ finely chopped
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper Method:

  • Grill the peppers, tomatoes & garlic over an open flame as I did, or in a pre-heated oven.
  • Roast them till the skins have completely charred & blistered. Seal into a ziploc & leave for 10-15 minutes. Peel the skins off, deseed. Squeeze the garlic clove out. Place in a large bowl and mash or purée depending how chunky or fine you would like it to be. (I left mine chunky)
  • Add olive oil and the remaining ingredients. Season with sea salt & freshly ground black pepper. Store in air-tight containers in the fridge for up to a week.
Lavash Crackers
from the book, ‘The Art Of Extraordinary Bread’, by Peter Reinhart.
Ingredients

Flour – 1 1/2 cup
Salt – 1/2 tsp
Instant yeast – 1/2 tsp
Sugar – 1 tbsp (or agave syrup)
Vegetable oil – 1 tbsp
Water – 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 , at room temperature
Roasted garlic paste
Sumac, Italian herbs, Roasted garlic, Poppy seeds, Sesame seeds, Roasted red chili flakes or sea salt for toppings

Method:

  • Stir together the flour, salt yeast, sugar, oil, and add just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water. Knead to a middle-firm dough, smooth & not sticky.
  • Turn into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, & allow to rise at room temperature for about 90 minutes, until doubled in size.
  • Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square & dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.
  • Preheat the oven to 200 C. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices if you are doing the Middle Eastern/sumac version (or poppy seeds, sesame seeds etc).
  • For the Italian version, brush the rolled out dough lightly all over with roasted garlic paste, sprinkle with Italian grill herbs, red chili flakes & sea salt. Just a light sprinkling is enough.
  • If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter & cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).
  • When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Pull the cut one apart, or break the Italian one into shards & serve.

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