In the Kitchen: Pseudo potato and pea samosas with tamarind chutney


My dumpling kick and my try-to-waste-no-food kick continue to overlap. I had a bag of boiled new potatoes from Krabbefest 2012 (a Dungeness Crab-lovers delight) and a big bunch of cilantro and leftover tamarind concentrate after from my Taste of Southeast Asia dinner party. (Guests had to dress up as a tourist, local or otherwise. We had a lot of “backpackers” in fisherman trousers and beer brand T-shirts show up!)

Eureka, Indian food! I decided I’d attempt samosas, but this would require some serious improvisation.

Crab for all! Those are the potatoes way in the back. We also had garlic bread, corn on the cob, pecan salad and, of course, spicy boiled dungeness crab.

1. Spices
I didn’t have any garam masala handy, so I made it. Peeled and toasted the cardamom pods that had been languishing on my spice rack for god knows how long and toasted the seeds on the stove top with a half stick of cinnamon, some whole cloves and black pepper corns. Then I dumped these in my “spices-only” coffee grinder and gave them a good whir. I cheated for the final ingredients, adding store-bought ground coriander seed and ground cumin to the mix.

2. Dough
I could have made the flaky pastry dough required, but this seemed a lot of effort for experimental, reconstituted leftovers. I opted for store-bought spring roll wrappers instead. The only problem — they were square, and I needed round. Placed a bowl upside down over a stack of skins, traced it with a knife, removed the edges and cut the results into imperfect semi-circles. Tada!

3. Filling
I was using frozen boiled potatoes that I’d thawed in the microwave. As anyone might imagine, they were a big watery mess. I think, in the future, it would be best to dice the potatoes and freeze them on a tray before tossing them into an airtight bag. Alas, I had not been so prescient. So I had to squeeze out my messy pile of sad potato bits in paper towels. But, you know, it worked. The rest was inspired by recipe I found in Andrea Nguyen’s lovely Asian Dumplings cookbook. But more about Ms. Nguyen later …

4. Cooking
Real samosas, while ever-so-tasty, are a fried-food binge waiting to happen. I have an upcoming trip to Hawaii, which will require much more skin exposure than my usual SF wardrobe, and cannot afford to put on another pound. (Alas, bikini, you love me no longer…)

I was determined to bake instead of fry my little pockets. I’m sure this borders on heresy for some, but there you have it. Fit not fat, right? Fortunately, there were directions on the skin packets on how to bake. So I went with those …

5. Results
Wow, these actually tasted quite good! I’m sure a less-abused batch of potatoes would have made a bit of a difference, but my leftovers still managed to turn into a crispy, tasty, Indian-like snack! Success! 🙂

Quick starter ingredients — Vietnamese tamarind concentrate and Chinese-style spring roll wrappers. Not pictured, Thai palm sugar. Love the stuff so much, I eat it like candy!

Toasting a half stick of cinnamon and a spoonful each of black peppercorns, cardamom seeds and cloves.


Ground up the toasted seeds and cinnamon stick with store-bought ground cumin and coriander seeds. I have a label on the side of this grinder that says “SPICES,” lest I ruin a batch of coffee beans. 🙂

Pan-fried the potatoes with some onion and then added thawed peas and garam masala.

Using a bowl to make my square pegs round!

Not perfect semi-circles, but perfect is not what we’re after …

Wet half the top of the semi-circle with water.

Fold the other half over the wet bit and press into a cone.

Use water again to press and seal a seam across the top.

I baked half and froze the rest for later. As with any dumplings, it’s best to freeze samosas by spreading out on a tray before moving them into a freezer bag. This lessens the chance that the dough will stick together and keeps them from becoming misshapen.

Used non-stick spray on baking sheet, though I am sure parchment paper would have been a more environmental choice. Basted with olive oil and then baked at 400F for 12 minutes.

I (basically) followed Andrea Nguyen’s recipe for Tamarind-Date chutney from the Asian Dumpling cookbook. It includes chopped dates, tamarind, cayenne, cumin and palm sugar (which you can replace with brown sugar). She has a bunch of awesome recipes for other chutney’s on her web site:

I mainly use cookbooks for inspiration and then “off-road” after surveying whatever’s in my fridge.

A note on dumplings and cookbooks:

The Asian Dumpling cookbook, out on Ten Speed Press, is pretty darn awesome. I bought it at my favorite local bookstore Omnivore Books, which, as its name implies, concentrates all its stock on food-related reads. (Nice puns, eh?) The store also hosts free, fun author lectures all the time! Ngyuen has also put out an Asian Tofu book, also for sale at Omnivore, which I am itching to get a hold of as soon as my self-induced austerity measures expire.

You can go dumpling mad on her aptly named web site,

When making recipe mash-ups for dumplings and other fare, I also turn to some fave cookbooks, such as Indian: Deliciously authentic dishesA Korean Mother’s Cooking Notes, Dok Suni: Recipes from my Korean mother’s kitchen and Martin Yan’s Asia. (I know many Asian Americans question Yan’s authenticity, but he is so much more than his cooking show implies. This book has awesome recipes from Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and the Philippines. I use it all them time, especially when I get nostalgic for my backpacking days!)

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