Indian Tapas: Baked Samosa Tartlets

She felt his eyes on her for some time before she allowed herself to turn around. As nonchalantly as possible, her eyes scanned the crowd expecting to meet his. He was out of sight and she forced herself to turn back to the elderly lady who was giving an intricate explanation of the wedding preparations of her grand-daughter. She attempted a smile that indicated interest, but her mind bolted in a different direction entirely as she wondered where he had gone.

The champagne was going to her head now and the waitress drifted past with a tray of appetisers. Desperate for something to do with her free hand, Maya grabbed a samosa, took a bite and held it awkwardly as the lady finished her detailed description of each piece of jewellery that was given to her grand-daughter by the in-laws.

Samosa Tartlets 1

The lull in the conversation was exactly what Maya needed. She expressed the required niceties and broke away to scout the room for him once again.
And as she turned, there he was. Standing at her elbow, his dark skin luminous and his playful dimples twinkling.

“Can I get you another drink?” he smiled.

Maya tried her most alluring smile and taking that as a yes, he saw a passing waiter and reached for a fresh glass of champagne. As he turned away, Maya nervously took another bite of her samosa, wishing to make it disappear so that she could go back to elegantly sipping her bubbles and flirting with the beautiful stranger that inexplicably seemed interested in her.

Samosa Tartlets 4

To say that the triangular pastry destroyed all of Maya’s semblance of sophistication is more than fair. That second bite caused the pastry to crumble, and the spiced potato filling tumbled out of the belly of the samosa, bounced off her bosom leaving behind it a trail of yoghurt sauce as it fell to the carpet just in front of her………

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To avoid similar samosa- related disasters, I have for you baked samosas that are in tart form. Two or three bites should do it and the thick, wonderfully flaky, sour-cream pastry minimises chances of such mortifying situations as poor Maya faced. Serve with the mint yoghurt sauce, as well as this tamarind and date chutney, dollops of which can be spooned into the tarts just prior to serving. I also used a combination of cauliflower and potato to reduce the carbohydrate content of the whole thing.

In other news, if you haven’t had enough of my babble in this space, or if you have somewhat let the fitness regime slip by over the holidays, head on over to Saute Magazine to read my thoughts on Exercise.

Samosa Tartlets

Pastry recipe slightly modified from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 12-15 with leftover filling

Get:

For the pastry:
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ajwain (carom) seeds
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
115g chilled butter, cubed
1/4 cup chilled sour cream
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water

For the filling:
500g cauliflower, diced
2 small potatoes, diced
3 tsp oil
2cm ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chilly powder
1/2tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp amchur powder
Salt
Boiling Water

For the yoghurt sauce:
1/2 cup thick Greek youghurt
Small handful mint leaves
Small handful coriander leaves
1/2- 1 tsp salt

Make:

To make the pastry:
Roast the cumin and ajwain seeds in a small pan until fragrant.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and roasted seeds. Add the butter and use clean fingers to knead the butter into the flour until it is a smooth, crumbly mixture. A few larger chunks of butter the size of small peas are fine.
In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, lemon and iced water. Pour the mixture into the flour and butter. Uing your hands again, gently mix, then lightly knead the mixture until it is one mass. The kneading should be minimal and just enough to get the dough into a ball.
Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 20 mins. The dough can be prepared a few days early and refrigerated.
Preheat the oven to 200 C

To make the filling:
Boil the diced potatoes in salted water until they are cooked but still firm.
In a large non-stick pan, heat the oil. Add the cumin seeds and once they are popping, reduce the heat to low and add the ginger. Fry for a minute or so, then add all the spice powders except for the amchur and salt. Fry for 2-3 minutes.
Add the cauliflower and 1/2 cup of water, 1 tsp salt and amchur. Stir, cover and simmer until the cauliflower is tender but firm, stirring intermittently (6-8 mins).
Drain the potatoes and add them to the pan. If the mixture is dry, add a further 1/4 cup water. Stir through and taste- add a little more salt if needed. Stir and cook uncovered until the mixture is reduced so that there is no gravy.

To make the yoghurt sauce:
Place the ingredients in the bowl of the food processor and pulse a few times until they are well blended. Taste and add a little more salt if needed, however the mixture should be on the slightly sour side.

To assemble:
Roll out the dough to 5 mm thickness. Using a large cookie cutter (I used a bowl that was 9 cm diameter), cut out rounds in the dough. Place the rounds at the base of tiny tart pans, a muffin pan or patty cases. The edges should turn up to form a shallow tart shape.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven until the pastry is cooked through, about 15 mins.
Cool and turn the cases out onto a plate. Spoon the filling into the cases. The tarts can be made in advance and warmed in a preheated oven (160 C) for 5 mins before serving.
Dollop with yoghurt sauce and tamarind date chutney just before serving.

Samosa Tartlets 5

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Indian Tapas: Paneer Sang Choy Bau (Vegetarian)

Continue reading Indian Tapas: Paneer Sang Choy Bau (Vegetarian)

Goats Cheese and Walnut Mini-Cheesecakes

Over the past week or so I have had a sneaking suspicion about something that today was proven to be irrefutably true, and that is that I have somehow invoked the wrath of the cooking Gods.

It started with the weekend pasta dish for which I made a lovely white wine and cream sauce and invited two of my favourite ingredients, prawns and broccolini (who can resist mini-me vegetables?) to the party.  It was looking awfully promising until I overcooked the pasta, resulting in a nice dinner where there should have been a really, really nice dinner.

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Then there were my experiments in the realm of low-fructose baking.  Now, my forays into unchartered cooking territory don’t always result in applause but I have to say my adventures over the last couple of days well and truly take the cake (pun totally intended) as far as kitchen mishaps go.

Fuelled by my last success with citrus cake, I decided to try my hand at the lemon and poppy seed loaf…… using dextrose instead of sugar.  Suffice it to say that I must’ve truly taken my frustrations out on the unsuspecting batter while mixing, as it absolutely refused to rise.  It still tasted reasonable and the funny synthetic smell imparted by the dextrose that I dusted it with distracted only slightly from the otherwise enjoyable crumb.

Thus was my first lesson in what NOT to do with dextrose.

Don’t worry citrus and poppy seed lovers, that one remains a work in progress.

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The jewel in my crappy cooking week crown was the simple cheesecake recipe I road-tested that turned out to be simply disastrous.  With the look, texture and taste of plastic, this creation was not even a face it’s mother could love.  Alarm bells did go off when I was able to peel the cheesecake off its base in one piece, but taste it I did and what a waste of taste-bud labour that it was.  So I peeled, I dumped and I moved on with a determination to make something, something this week that was worth the ingredients it was made of.

Finally, there was a breakthrough.  A spark of yum in an otherwise ugh week.

What I have for you today hopefully symbolises the end of the week of colossal disasters.  Tiny little savoury cheesecakes (again with the mini things!) with a buttery base that really pack a punch.  A simple recipe, but tasty and would work well for a substantial snack or an appetiser for a dinner party.  Or in my case, a couple of these for breakfast and I was all set for the morning.

These little savoury cheesecakes are totally adaptable- you could throw in some bacon, spinach, whole walnuts or most anything else that floats your boat.  If you have little ones that like to dabble in the kitchen, this would be a great recipe for them to try, as long as you handle the oven side of things.

So enjoy, while I go off to negotiate with whoever up there is in charge of allowing me to cook edible things.

PS: Less than a week left to vote for my post on Cherry Lassi in the SA Writers Centre Food Bloggers Writing Competition!  Click here to be redirected to the voting page.  There’s a chance to will a $100 voucher through the SAWC as well as my eternal gratitude in it for those who vote!

Goats cheese walnut cheesecakes

Goat’s cheese and Ricotta Mini Cheesecakes

Modified from Simply Heaven, a Kraft Philadelphia Cookbook

Makes 6

Get:

For the base:
1/4 cup walnuts, ground
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
Generous pinch salt
15g butter, melted

For the cheesecake layer:
115g Goats Cheese
100g Ricotta cheese or cream cheese
1 small red chilli, finely chopped (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
Small handful fresh herbs, finely chopped- parsely, chives and dill work well
1/4 red capsicum, finely diced to sprinkle on top
1 egg

Make:

Preheat the oven to 180 C.

Combine the cheeses, chilli, salt, paprika and herbs in a bowl and mix well.  Add the egg and mix thoroughly to a smooth mixture.

For the base, combine ingredients and mix well.

Grease and line 6 cups of a muffin tin with muffin liners or baking paper.  If not using liners, just grease the cups.  I prefer to use liners as this minimises the mess!

Divide the base mixture between the cups and press down evenly.  Divide the cheesecake mixture between the cups and even out a little with a spoon.  Sprinkle the diced red capsicum over the top of the cheesecakes.

Bake for 15 mins on the middle shelf.  The cheesecakes will be slightly soft in the middle when baked, but will firm up on cooling.

Goats Cheese Ricotta Cheesecakes