Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Food Desert Project - Dehydrated-Potato Samosas and Food Desert Garam Masala

Indian food, with it's focus on vegetables and dairy, is a terrific resource for the food desert dweller.  It's also much easier to make than one would think - these samosas, for example, seem like a particuarly challenging pastry - but, really, they're considerably easier than pie.

Garam Masala is a traditional Indian spice mixture whose composition changes depending on where you are in India or South Asia, it's usually ground to order for each recipe with whole spices that have been lightly fried in ghee, or Indian-style clarified butter.  It's a base for many recipes, so watch for it to come up again in other recipes on this blog.

This recipe was also where I first "discovered" the dehydrated potato - you know, the kind that comes in a shelf-stable box with some kind of goopy reconstitutable cheese sauce?  Dehydrated potatoes are an excellent resource for the food desert, because you can rehydrate them and use them in any boiled potato recipe - but they have a better texture than potato flakes (which I also use in this project.)

Nutrition information for 1 samosa before frying

Food Desert Garam Masala
Mix the following together and grind in your blender if using whole spices

1/2 tsp Cinnamon
4 Whole Cloves or ¼ tsp ground
1/4 tsp ground Coriander
4 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Black Pepper
Chili flakes to taste

For Crust:

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
1/4 cup lukewarm water added a little at a time


1 5.25 oz box dehydrated sliced potatoes (for Scalloped Potatoes, etc.)
½ cup Potato Flakes
½ cup peas, canned or frozen
2 tsp cumin (whole if possible; if ground, reduce to 1 tsp)
½ tsp Garam Masala (see recipe)
1 tsp Paprika or red chili flakes, or to taste
1 tbsp canned jalapenos, chopped, or according to taste
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil

I'd offer samosa crust instructions, but Manjula of Manjula's Kitchen does such a terrific job, you should really follow her! Mix the crust per her instructions, set aside to rest for 20 min. while you prepare the filling.

Open the box of potatoes; throw away the “seasoning packet.” Simmer the potatoes on the stovetop in 2 cups of water for the time recommended on the box. Drain. Add potato flakes, chilis, and drained peas. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry your seasonings for a few seconds. Add potato mixture and fry, mashing lightly (you want it to be chunky but not distinct slices) Cool.

Prepare 10-12 crusts as shown in the video and stuff with filling. Fry until golden brown and delicious.

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