Sunday, October 15, 2006

Diwali Goodies!

Spurred on by this month's Jihva for Ingredients hosted by Vee of Past, Present and Me, I am posting TWO (and a half) Diwali goodies that are made in our home. Before I jump into the recipes, let me heartily thank Vee-- THANK YOU. I have been away from home for the past 5.5 years and I always felt that I was keeping up, remembering, not forgetting anything because I go back home every few months in a year. My frequent visits are much-needed infusions of sanity in my life, full of great times with family and friends......... and also a comfort to me because I feel that I am still totally connected with India. I can talk about a new shop opening or a new play that I saw in Delhi as well as in the US. I moan traffic laws in India and here, I watch soaps in India and here (soaps are cool! you can not watch them for 4 months, yet still catch up on the happenings in a jiffy). So I thought I was soooo cool...........until this month's JFI got posted. Then I realised that I had not been home for Diwali for 5 years. I didnt remember what we cook on Diwali. A time-and-money-pressed student existence in the US wasnt conducive to making Diwali I forgot. Dont get me wrong- we always managed to do something for Diwali like pot-luck dinner or something. But neither time nor resources ran into making anything other than entrees that would feed 10-15 people.

I have to say, it was not a pleasant realization. My little bubble of connectedness was burst.
Maybe I would become a distant 'NRI' whose idea of India is through Bollywood movies..............but maye not! In swoops Vee ( and Mom) to the rescue! So thanks Vee, for giving me the opportunity (and incentive) to re-create Diwali and all its attendant rituals in my home here.

So what I am plan to make are 2 sweets and 1 savory dish. The savory is an old favourite with pretty much everyone I know. The much loved, much eaten, much made.........Samosa! But theres a twist here. Its a SUPER-HEALTHY, SUPER-BAKED SAMOSA. Thanks to both Indira and Shammi for putting the germ of the idea in my head. And since it is a festival ( and anyway I am a good girl) I am not lying or exaggerating at all when I tell you that they came out fantabulous! They were the best samosa's that I have ever made.........and they tasted like ones that you get in the St. Stephens caffe, or the chaat-walla on Chaura Rasta in Jaipur, or Bengali Sweets in New Delhi! Funny how hard one has to try to re-create shop-made tastes at home. So here it is- my twist on home-made 'sams'.

1 Boiled, mashed Potato
1 fistful Lightly cooked Peas (de-frosted if frozen)
3-4 Red & green chilies chopped
4-5 sprigs Fresh corriander
1/4 tstp Cumin seeds
1/4 tsp Corriander powder
1/4 tsp Red chili powder
1/4 tsp Garam masala
1 tsp Corriander seeds

Sputter the cumin seeds in 1 tsp of oil. Put in all the above ingredients and roast on a gentle flame until a nice smell comes from the filling. Mash in all together nicely while this happens then set aside to cool for a bit.

Surprise Ingredient! 1 Frozen puff pastry! I let it defrost on a plate for about 30 minutes before doing anything. It becomes very pliable after that. Since it was little thick, I powdered it with a little AP flour and rolled it (just a little) thinner. Then take a butter knife and cut it cross-wise into 4 triangles..

Use one of the triangles and roll it into a triangular cup. In order to seal the edges, you can pinch the edges so that they stick together. Fill this triangle with the stuffing and seal the top part.

Line up all the little stuffed triangles on a baking sheet and put in a 400 degree pre-heated oven for 15 minutes. Then turn the samosas over and bake on 400 for another 10 minutes. Serve!

These little babies are delicious! Then I got a little adventurous and tried out a store-brought frozen Malaysian paratha for the crust and these turned out wonderful as well! In fact, I preferred these over the puff-pastry but you can judge what you liked bet ter yourself. There is absolutely no need for any kind of oil in this recipe. In fact, if you want you can not use any oil at all in the filling. Just mash boiled veggies together and put in the spices- a different, earthy flavor.

The recipe from start to finish took about 1.5 hours. The most efficient order of things was to
1. Put the puff pastry/ Malaysian paratha to thaw.
2. In the meantime, make the filling.
3. At the time that you are ready to roll and cut the pastry into pyramids, set the oven to pre-heat.

So here is a Diwali treat served with home-ma de corriander chutney, tomato sauce and a piece of home-made Mysore pak! Happy Diwali everyone!

Wait! There's more! My curiostiy with what all I could do with this new, healthy, light technique to make sam's was almost unbounded! I wanted to try making Dal(lentil) Samosas. These are very popular in Rajasthan and UP particularly since they are almost indestructible and can last months. However the way to make these is a little cumbersome since one has to soak the lentils and then grind them...and then fry them. Wasted effort when someone else has already doe most of the work! Who, you ask? Why, Haldiram of course, God bless his soul!

I used Haldiram's Moong Dal namkeen and seasoned it with salt and spices. Then I used this as a stuffing. Excellent!


Nandita said...

Hey G,
Very touching stuff there, and you've done great work with the samosas. I wish we got puff pastry sheets in India, probably some stores in Bombay do sell, I havent yet been able to find out...that one makes life so much easier...
Wishing you a wonderful Diwali and we'll all be seeing each other at Vee's Diwali Party anyway :)

Alanna said...

Hi G ~ hearing this story again brought tears to my eyes, again! Your photos are lookin' luv-ily by the way!!

Vee said...

Awwww... now you have made me all sentimental and stuff... Nice samosa!!!.. would go really well with all the sweet stuff..Thank you for participating and looking forward to your other entries.

Foodie's Hope said...

YUM!! My fav. samosas!:))
Happy Diwali!!

Indira said...

Hi G,

Visiting from Vee's link.

What a gorgeous spread and everything looks great.

Subha Deepavali!

g said...

Thanks a lot, all of you. I guess I out-cooked myself last weeekend and now I am feeling homesick! Need to give myself a good shake and get cooking. g

Kalyn said...

Happy Diwali,

I just tagged all the St. Louis food bloggers for this meme, but no pressure, only if you think it sounds fun and have time to do it.

Lakshmiammal said...

First time visiting. It is a great idea to use frozen puff pastry.Hats off!

KESI said...

hi g,
i got your address through shaju...will defin. have to try out some of your recipes! hope all is well with you...
with warm regards from us...

Lisa said...

I love the puff pastry idea. I've made samosas before, both baked and fried, but I made the dough myself -- this would be much easier for every day! I'll have to look for the paratha also. And -- the Halidiram's moong dal -- is that a frozen product? I bet I could find it in my town; we have several good international food stores.

I'm going to try your recipe. I adore samosas. Thanks!

Stephanie said...

Hey G,

love your post and recipes (especially since you used Haldiram's Moong Dal!) i'm looking forward to trying this out myself along with everyone here at the Haldiram's USA office. We have all the ingredients (minus the potatoes):-P.

feel free to drop me an email or visit our sites, we've got some great products to help you out with your next recipe!