Monday, September 11, 2006

Cook Like A Pro
Be Organized
Madhur Jaffrey was in two films I watched recently. In Prime, she played Meryl Streep's analyst, a minor, yet charming role. In ABCD, she had the starring role. Ms Jaffrey portrayed a concerned mother, trying to instill Indian traditions within her American born children. Engrossed in the film, my taste-memory sped into high gear. As she prepared her daughter's favorite dish, samosas, my mouth began to water for the exotic flavors and spicy bite of Indian cooking.
It was probably at least 10 years ago that I went on an Indian food kick. Bought Madhur Jaffrey's book on Indian cooking and frequented little out of the way markets to purchase authentic Indian spices . Following the sage advice of Indian cooks I met and experimenting with recipes from Jaffrey's book, the house became redolent with spicy aromas from toasting seeds, crushed spices, fresh cilantro and hard to find curry leaves.
I had such great fun making chapatis on the gas stove. . . removing the cooked flat bread from the griddle and placing it directly on the gas flame for a couple of seconds, watching it puff up, golden and hot, just waiting for a liberal brushing of melted, clarified butter (ghee). Simply amazing to have such a satisfying, tasty staple made from nothing more than whole wheat flour and water.
Mise - en - place
One kitchen procedure that Madhur Jaffrey emphasizes is to prepare and measure all the ingredients before starting the actual cooking. This is true for all cooking, not just Indian. Mise-en-place [MEEZ-anh-plahs], a French term meaning "everything in its place", is standard practice in a professional kitchen. Prep the aromatics, measure the spices, mince the herbs, measure any liquids -- have all necessary ingredients for a dish, prepared and ready to go before you start cooking. Tip: Use a pastry brush to sweep seeds and spices into recipe.
Clockwise: salt,garam masala,cumin, black pepper, cayenne

Clockwise:onions, cilantro, grated ginger, green chili

The filling for samosas is simply potatoes and peas prepared with spices, aromatics and lemon juice. The filling can easily be served as a tasty side dish with chicken breast or chops and is a lively accompaniment for a bland fish fillet. But the spiced potato/pea mixture shines as the filling for a fabulous finger food.

Check the archives. The August 6th posting contains instructions for making the pastry dough for little turnovers (meat patties). Samosas are normally deep fried and eaten as snacks or appetizers, usually accompanied by fresh coriander chutney. They are equally good and less artery clogging baked.

Samosa Filling

4 medium potatoes, boiled and cooled, 1 medium onion, finely chopped, 1 cup of peas, if frozen, defrost first. 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil (I use olive oil) 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger, 1 fresh green chili, finely chopped, 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon garam masala, 1 teaspoon ground roasted cumin seeds, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 3 tablespoons water, 2 tablespoons lemon juice.

While potatoes are boiling, dice remainder of vegetables and herbs, measure spices, squeeze lemon juice. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut in 1/4" dice. Heat 4 tbs vegetable or olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add oinon, stir and fry until brown at the edges. Add the peas, ginger, green chili, cilantro and 3 tablespoons of water. Cover, lower heat and simmer until peas are cooked. Stir every now and then and add a little more water if the mixture seems to dry out. Then add the diced potatoes with the remainder or the spices and the lemon juice. Stir to mix. Cook on low heat for 3 - 4 minutes. Taste for seasoning adding more salt and/or lemon juice, if needed. Allow to cool if using for samosa stuffing.

The samosas freeze nicely, either pre-baked in a 350° oven until nicely browned (25 - 30 minutes) or freeze them unbaked to cook when needed. Nice item to have on hand when guests drop in.

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BOOK NOOK

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Sara Gruen - Water For Elephants

"A home without books is like a body without a soul" - Cicero

'Till next time . . . keep on cooking!

1 comment:

Asha said...

Hi Joyce,Madhur Jaffrey is indeed a great cook book author! You have arranged the ingredients very nicely there:) Couldn't see the end product ie Samosas but it is similar to Empanadas. Great job.Masala filling looks yummy!

On wednesday,I will post a dessert and recipes gor Beans Gravy and Poori.Check them out and try to make some Pooris.Yummy with Potato filling too.