Although we may think that the samosa is truly native to India, the “sanbosag” as it was first known, can actually trace its origin to 1oth century Persia. Functioning as the Clif Bar of its times, these simple dough pockets filled with vegetables or meat, sustained traders for days while making the journey between Central and South Asia on the Khyber Pass . Virtually every culture has it’s own variation of this food form. The Portuguese empanada, the Italian calzone, the Russian pirozhki, the German strudel, the Jewish knish, and of course let us not forget the delectable American Hot Pocket…
In true Seattle style, with this dish we sought to marry flavors from across the globe and create a well-balanced, sweet and savory bite- taking the traditional pastry crust from South America but filling it with flavors that are distinctly South Asian while serving it with a Mediterranean-style chutney. And while traditional Indian samosas are usually served as appetizers or snacks, these are big and hearty enough to star all on their own. Packed with spiced red lentils, sweet potatoes, and herbs and wrapped in a tender pastry, they are perfectly paired with the tangy-sweet tomato-apricot chutney.
Yield: 8 servings
1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter (or Earth Balance)
3/4 cup buttermilk (or soy milk)
1 1/2 cups cubed sweet potato
1/2 cup red lentils
2 teaspoons ghee (or Earth Balance)
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 large red chile, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 cup fresh whole wheat breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped toasted pistachios
canola oil to brush on top
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup tomato puree
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, mix both the flours and the salt. Using a grater or pastry cutter, cut the butter (or Earth Balance) to the size of long-grain rice. Stir in the buttermilk (or soy milk) gradually, just until a pliable dough is formed. Divide into 8 pieces and make each into a ball. Cover and let rest at room temperature.
In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine the sweet potato and red lentils with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, checking occasionally and adding a little water if they are sticking, but not too much. When the lentils are falling-apart tender, remove the pan from the heat.
In a large sauté pan over high heat, heat the ghee (or Earth Balance) and cook the mustard and cumin seeds until they start to pop. Reduce heat to medium and add the chile and ginger and cook for 1 minute, then add the turmeric and garam masala and stir, Add the lentil mixture and the breadcrumbs. The mixture should be very thick-if not, cook, stirring until a scoop of the filling will hold its shape. Stir in the salt, lemon juice, cilantro, and pistachios and let cool.
Preheat the oven to 375 deg F and grease a baking sheet. Roll out each dough ball into a 4-inch oval and scoop about 1/4 cup of the filling in each.
Brush the edge with water, fold the dough over, enclosing the filling, and seal with a fork. Place the empanadas on the prepared baking sheet. Brush each empanada lightly with oil.
Bake until golden brown on the bottom and edges, about 20 minutes. Serve hot with chutney.
To make the Chutney:
In a small saucepan over medium heat, dry-roast the fennel and mustard seeds until fragrant. Add the lemon and orange juices (careful, they may splatter) and the remaining ingredients. Simmer over low heat until thick, then puree in a food processor. Scrape into a small bowl and let cool. Serve at room temperature.
Recipe adapted from New Vegetarian by Robin Asbell