Today, it is time again for Is My Blog Burning?. This edition’s theme is dumplings. So I’ve had a month of experimentation with dumplings, variety: not my native cuisine and fried. First, I had a go at brik ? l’oeuf, mixing up tuna and parsley into a soft filling, wrapping it in filo, tipping in scrambled raw egg, and frying it up in my cast-iron skillet. The timing on brik is sensitive: you need the egg to still be runny. I didn’t achieve it.
I also roasted half an eggplant and mixed it with parsley and garlic, salt and pepper, and fried that in filo as well. It came out perfectly crisp on the outside, warm and savory in the center.
Once I’d finished my fried feast, I still had more filo than I knew what to do with.
So I sliced some parboiled potatoes and the rest of the eggplant, sprinkled it all with salt, pepper, and paprika, folded it into filo, and baked it in the oven for one hour. I followed it with asparagus, onions, and Nevat, likewise wrapped, likewise baked.
I still had quite a bit of filo, and some thinking to do.
Last year, I’d made samosas out of pumpkin. Then, I’d faithfully followed the dough recipe:
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil
5 tbsp cold water (or as needed)
Combine flour and salt, either in a food processor or by hand. Add oil slowly, until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add just enough cold water to form a medium-soft dough (if you are using a food processor, the dough will leave the sides of the bowl). Cover the dough and refrigerate.
When ready to use, make 1 inch balls of dough and roll them out thin.
The dough was excellent, but difficult to roll out; I spent hours trying to make it thin enough and large enough to wrap around the filling.
Why not try the filo? For that matter, why not give those Vietnamese spring roll wrappers a shot?
Pumpkin Samosa Filling
1 tbsp oil
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 pie pumpkin or 16 oz can pumpkin puree
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
If using pie pumpkin, peel and cut into chunks. Steam until soft, then mash by hand or in a mixer or food processor.
Sweat onion & garlic in oil until translucent, then add all other ingredients and stir well. Cook until thickened, about 7 minutes. Let cool, then wrap in dough and fry.
Since pumpkins haven’t yet shown up in my local markets, I used a butternut squash. This was a mistake – too sweet, too soft; the filling ended up tasting like pumpkin pie with peas. It wasn’t bad, just strange.
First, I worked with the filo. I cut the sheets in half and then folded them again, so that I was working with a double layer the size of a quarter sheet. A big spoonful of filling in the middle, and brush the sides with water, fold them up & stick them together.
They didn’t look like samosas, but into the hot oil they went, one after the other.
When I was down to only a few pieces of filo left, I decided to experiment with the spring roll wrappers. These were not the soft, refrigerated kind, but were stiff and dried, labeled in Vietnamese, French (galettes de riz), and English. To use, they have to be dipped in water to soften them. Too long a dip, and the rice paper melts; too brief a dip, and it is too stiff to work with. I experimented and found that a quick in-and-out motion in a shallow pan worked best; I filled up a wrapper and dropped it in the oil – and jumped back as the water made the oil spatter. The next one tore as it went in, and the third puffed up strangely.
I went back to the filo: predictable, controllable, well-behaved.
The finished dumplings were almost nothing like samosa; they were tasty, but might have worked better as a dessert (minus the peas, onions, and garlic, plus powdered sugar over top). The ones in spring roll wrappers were more samosa-like in texture, but the wrappers were so annoying to work with that I think I shall avoid them in the future.
My quest for good substitutes for homemade samosa dough continues. Next time: refrigerated egg roll wrappers.