Adapted from a World Cook recipe
Today I was surfing the web looking for a new idea, some recipe, some country’s food I had not yet tried to make. I stumbled upon World Cook, a site out of the Netherlands with recipes from 133 countries (currently there are officially 196 countries total). It does not purport to be comprehensive, some countries have many recipes, others only a single one. You can search by country, ingredient, and day of the year. Many of the recipes have a bit of cultural background added to them if they are associated with a particular holiday. The site is also a bit of a travel log of their family’s visits to places away from home.
I spent hours exploring the site and it had an odd quirk. Whenever you select a recipe to look at, a second unrelated recipe appeared on the same page. For example the page for the Uzbekistan Samsa recipe also had one for Tomato Soup. One recipe would lead you to another, and another, and another. It became addictive to see where it all would lead. I finally chose the samsa recipe, but the original Uzbek recipe was a bit boring. The dough was OK, but the filling was just spinach and onions. I was going to have to spice this recipe up.
One of the attractions of samsa was that they were baked rather than deep fried like Indian samosa. This meant I could make them low fat for Jan. Our memory of Moslem China is that while we saw lot of baking, we remember very little deep fried foods. Since this is originally an Uzbek recipe, I suspect that the cooking technique may be a Mongolian influence.
A simplified version of my Saag Paneer would make a good and spicy filling for my samsa.
Karl’s Samsa with Spinach and Paneer (Baked Samosa)
1 ½ cup of all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon of salt
½ ± cup of water, just enough to make a stiff dough
1 Jalapeño chili, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp.cumin seeds
1 tsp.fennel seeds
1 tsp.coriander seeds
½ tsp. salt
½ lb frozen chopped spinach
1 cup paneer, crumbled
2 Tbs. oil
1. Combine the all purpose flour, egg, salt and water and knead to make a dough. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 to 40 minutes.
2. Add butter to a pan on medium heat and add the onions, sauté for two minutes.
3. Add the jalapeño and garlic and sauté for one minute more.
4. Grind the cumin, fennel, amd coriander to a powder. Add them to the pan and sauté for a few seconds.
5. Add the frozen spinach and a little water and cook for a few minutes.
6. Crumble the paneer into small bits and add it to the pan. Continue cooking for 5 minutes, uncovered, stirring to blend in the cheese as much as possible. You want to cook off as much moisture as you can without burning your filling. A wet filling will make your crust soggy. After the spinach filling is cooked, set it aside and let it cool.
Tip: I found that clearly shows the next steps (does anyone here speak Mongolian?). The chef also shows some alternate folding patterns, beyond a simple rectangle. Jan remembers having the 5 sided lamb version that he is making when we were visiting Kashgar, P.R.China, in 1988. In fact, these spinach samsa were so successful I am planning to make this lamb version tomorrow night.
7. While your filling is cooling, roll your dough into a snake about a foot long. Cut the dough into 10-12 equal pieces and roll them into small balls.
8. Roll out each ball into a 6 inch round disk.
9. When the filling is cool, place about 3 Tbs. in the center of a dough disk and fold one edge over the filling.
10. Moisten the top edge of the fold and fold the opposite edge over the first. Pat it down lightly.
11. Moisten the open ends of the dough packet and fold each end in by a quarter of its width. This is to cover the gaps left by the rounded curve of the dough disk.
12. Lay the rectangular packet on a Pam-ed baking sheet, folds down, and press lightly to distribute the filling into the corners.
13. When all of the packets are filled, brush lightly with oil and poke two holes in the tops of each packet.
14. Bake in a 400° oven for 30 minutes (check at 25 minutes to make sure that they do not get over done).