There are two things about me that I have realized only after I’ve repatriated. The first being that I'm a serial hoarder. I have a cork board on the wall above my desk that has things from 2009; placards from my first Model UN to birthday wishes from my 15th birthday party. Now, there are new things that get pinned to like psychedelic paper diamond from my recent trip to VH1 Supersonic in Pune, but for the most part the constituents of this board have not changed. My hoarding quality extends the board however, expanding into every drawer and bookshelf in my room. Hundreds of National Geographic Magazines, a piggy bank with old coins, a scrapbook with college memories, and diaries for when I used to write poems and quotes.
This actually brings me the to the second thing that I have learnt about myself— my growing interest in creative activities. While a lot of the things I do are analytical and require logical thinking, I have in my own ways slowly developed a strong creative side as well. In high school, this came out in the form of writing poetry and quotes in my handmade turquoise diary (the main picture of this blog peeps at it). This of course also became a diary of vulnerabilities which were shared with beautiful high school girl and now is a tiny but complex manifesto of emotion (which still smells like cherry blossoms, if anyone was wondering). I also grew into learning photography which only became more pronounced in college and was soon followed by cooking. Now, I feel as though I have achieved a plateau where I have the time and more importantly the freedom to exercise my right brain extensively, allowing me to do all three things through the blog- write, shoot, and cook.
My grandmother’s right brain largely works around food and crochet. While my fingers are too thick for inlaying cloth with thin threads, they are perfect to withstand the heat and oil burns that you encounter while cooking something like a samosa. The dish isn’t indigenous to India but rather immigrated with the Mughals. Being a Persian pastry, its can be found in many countries including Somalia and Ethiopia where they are filled with meat while in India they're usually filled with veggies. My favorite have been my Amma’s pea samosas. Tiny pockets of buttery pastry and par-mashed peas in classic Indian spices. My most cherished memory of these were during Diwali season, when almost a 100 would be made at a time, fried partially, and kept in the fridge until they were to be served to guests the day of the event. However, since they were usually made a week before, my dad and I would just eat them uncooked and cold. To be honest, they were cooked enough to be edible, they were just soft. Now, most people who’ve had a samosa would tell you that they eat it for the crispy pastry and not really the filling, which is true for most samosas other than my Amma’s. See, her samosas are made in such a way that they make the filling the hero of the dish by reducing the amount of filling in each pastry pocket. If you look at a commercial sized samosa, they look like a triangle with a beer belly— crispy on the top and bottom but filled with potatoes and starch in the center. Amma’s samosas are lean. They carry a little weight but nowhere close to their commercial counterparts. This is why eating them cold and partially cooked didn’t bother me— because I loved what was inside far more than what it was covered with.
Like every cooking lesson with Amma, this too was deeply humbling. I mashed the peas a bit too much and took FOREVER to learn how to make the pastry. I then messed up frying them down and saw Amma roll her eyes at me in dismay. To be honest, I love it. Her disappointment grounds me and affirms how much of a novice I really am. Have a look at the recipe below and try making these for yourself! If all else fails, just look at the pictures and feel jealous 💛
Glimpses from the week
250 grams of flour (maida)
3 tablespoons Ghee
1 teaspoon salt
750 grams green peas, loose
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 small granule of Hing (asafetida)
1/2 teaspoon of black salt
1 teaspoon Amchoor (dried mango powder)
1.5 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon white sugar
7 green chilies finely chopped
3 inches of ginger grated freshly
2 tablespoons veggie oil
Salt to taste
Mix pastry ingredients well, pounding and using the back of your hand to incorporate some air. Cut the log into 12 equal parts and cover it on a plate with a damp cloth.
In a heavy bottommed pan on medium heat, add oil and the peas. Let them sweat for a minute (don't touch the peas) and add spices. Cook them down for one minute and add the ginger and chillies. Once the ginger releases its aroma, kill the heat and let the filling cool.
Take a part of the pastry and roll it evenly into a circle. Slice into half using a knife
Take a half in both hands. Place the pastry on your right hand over your thumb and connect it with the pastry on the right. With the thumb still in the middle, crimp the bottom and seal the seam using pressure. If the seam does hold, make a mixture of flour and water (1:4 ratio) and apply that.
Add a tablespoon of the filling, and then crimp the top. Follow steps 3-5 for all the samosas
In a pot filled with veggie oil (heat: 175 Celsius or 350 F), add the samosas and flash fry until both sides are golden with minimal air bubbles. Serve with chutney