If you read my interview with the Kitchn as part of their Bite-Sized Guide to Oakland, you will have learned some exciting news. Sometime late Fall last year, I signed a book deal with the wonderful folk at Chronicle Books. “My first cookbook”, it feels a little surreal to even type those words or say it but this is happening and will be released in Fall 2018! So stay tuned while I reveal behind-the-scenes footage and more, over the next few months here and on Instagram.
I rarely share too many traditional Indian recipes, most of recipes reflect my journey of adaptation as an immigrant, I sometimes cook traditionally but more so than often the food I cook and create is influenced strongly by my past and present. It’s somewhere in between/ Take this samosa pie for instance, I first ate phyllo in the honey soaked baklava at a Greek restaurant in Cincinnati. The sweetness and the crunch of the thin sheets of flaky pastry that revealed a heavenly nut filling scented with rose water. Samosas are an Indian-style hand pie and on some days I’m too lazy to assemble two dozen samosas and so the samosa pie was born. This one envelopes the filling with layers and layers of thin delicate phyllo, brushed with ghee and topped off with a generous sprinkle of nigella.
samosa phyllo pie
makes one 9 inch-pie
2lbs russet potatoes
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil
2 teaspoons crushed coriander seeds
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
2 inch piece ginger root, peeled and julienned
1 cup frozen or fresh peas
1 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (cayenne will work)
1 1/2 teaspoon amchur powder (dried raw mango powder)
1 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup packed chopped cilantro leaves
1 serrano pepper thinly sliced
1 box of whole-wheat phyllo pastry, at room temperature (about 18 single sheets of phyllo)
1/4 cup melted ghee or butter
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
1. Rinse and scrub the potatoes and place them in a large stockpot and fill with cold tap water up to an inch above the potatoes. Add 1 teaspoon salt and heat on medium-high heat for about 20 to 25 minutes until the potatoes are completely cooked and tender. Drain the water from the potatoes and allow to cool before peeling. Once the potatoes are cooled, chop them into large chunks and keep aside.
2. Heat the oil in a large stockpot or Dutch-oven on medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot add the coriander seeds and cook until they start to brown within 30 to 40 seconds. Add the onions and ginger and cook until they brown in about 10 to 12 minutes. Then add the chopped potatoes, peas, the remaining salt, chili, amchur, black pepper and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally to coat evenly. Remove the stockpot from the stove and and taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Fold in the cilantro leaves and serrano.
3. Place a wire rack at midlevel in the oven and preheat to 350F. Grease a 9-inch circular pie pan with a little ghee or butter. Carefully line the surface of the pan with one single sheet of phyllo and brush gently with ghee or butter. Place another sheet of pastry at a slight angle to the first and repeat. This will allow you to cover the entire pan as you rotate the placement of the pastry sheets. Place 9 such phyllo sheets. Then fill the pan with the potato-pea filling. Cover the filling with the remaining sheets of phyllo, brushing each layer with ghee or butter. Once the pie is layered, take a kitchen shears and trim the overhang leaving about 1 inch of extra pastry on the edge. Fold this extra inch over itself and crimp it gently to seal. Brush the entire surface of the pastry with the ghee or butter. If you have any extra left-over pastry, you can use it to garnish and decorate the pie. Sprinkle the nigella seeds over the pie and make six 1 inch cuts around the center of the pie to allow it to vent in the oven. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for about 60 minutes, rotating once halfway through until golden brown. Remove the baked pie from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Serve slices of the pie with a sweet tamarind chutney and/or spicy green cilantro chutney or even Indian-style mango pickle.