Samosas probably are India’s favorite snack. These crispy triangles are loved by everyone from Bollywood actresses to business managers and toddlers to grandmas.
When I was growing up, samosas made an appearance at any significant family gathering, whether it was small and festive or a huge celebration. A week or so prior to the big event, my mother, sister and I would form a production line in the kitchen. My mother would make the filling, my sister would fill the samosas (I could not be trusted not to eat the mixture) and I would fold them into neat triangles.
The samosas then would be covered with plastic wrap and frozen on sheet pans, ready to be baked a few minutes ahead of our guests’ arrival, leaving us all happy and out of the kitchen to enjoy the party.
Traditionally, samosas are filled with a medley of mixed vegetables, such as potatoes, peas and carrots, or minced meat and herbs, then deep-fried to crisp perfection. In our family kitchen, we’ve evolved them over time to use whatever ingredients grew in our farming community. We also bake them instead of fry so that they’re healthier (and easier to cook).
Some families make their own pastry (which is surprisingly easy), but I like to use phyllo pastry, as it’s quick, light and easily stored in the freezer. During the holiday season, I love to use walnuts and mushrooms together. Their savory flavors marry perfectly and feel very festive. Plus, their meaty textures persuade even the most hardened of carnivores to get involved.
CREMINI MUSHROOM AND WALNUT SAMOSAS
Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes (45 active)
Makes 18 Samosas
1 1/4 cups walnuts (5 ounces) walnuts
3 cups cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds (plus extra, to garnish)
1 large yellow onion, diced
1-inch chunk fresh ginger, grated
6 large cloves garlic, minced
2 serrano or jalapeno chilies, finely chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 ounces phyllo dough (1/2 a 16-ounce package)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
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