South Indian New Year's Eve

Recipe: Puff Pastry Samosa Pockets

Image Credit: Leela Cyd

When it comes to food for a New Year's Eve celebration, you can either go for the full dinner or opt for bites and nibbles to power you all night long. Now, the nice thing about the bites and nibbles option is you get to nosh on those bites and nibbles all night long. And no food lends itself to such a notion like a well-made samosa.

These samosas were one of the first items Atlanta-based chef Asha Gomez created for her daytime dining spot, Spice To Table, and the first thing that appears on our South Indian New Year's Eve menu. Unlike traditional samosas, they're made with puff pastry for a buttery, flaky crunch, although the filling is very much full of South Indian ingredients and flavors. As Asha likes to say, "This is about an evolution of flavor, not a fusion."

Image Credit: Leela Cyd

Fill as You Please

The beauty of samosas is their versatility, so take advantage of all that they offer. Asha shared three fillings for samosas and we were hard-pressed to say yes to just one, so it's three you get instead. Hooray!

While any of the fillings listed above make a three-bite snack anyone would be glad to partake in, you can certainly use your own favorite filling in these samosas. To keep this in the same school of flavor of the other items on this menu, try to incorporate the garam masala mixture into your filling.

The exact ratios and ingredients of garam masala change from brand to brand and household to household, so find something you like and experiment from there. Regardless of the combination you arrive at, garam masala will always do its job of adding warmth and depth to whatever it's added to.

A South Indian New Year's Eve

We're ringing in the new year with a burst of flavor and color and a menu from Asha Gomez's celebrated cookbook, My Two Souths. Inspired by the parallel flavors of home in Kerala and her home in Atlanta, Asha creates recipes that tell the stories of how these two cultures and traditions of cooking overlap to create the food she shares in her Atlanta-based Indian pâtisserie, Spice To Table.

Puff Pastry Samosa Pockets

Makes 6

For the sirloin and pea filling:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium shallot, peeled and finely chopped
3 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
2 teaspoons garlic powder (no-salt)
1 teaspoon fresh coarsely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground dried turmeric
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound ground beef sirloin
1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

For the puff pastry:
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 (14x9-inch) sheet frozen puff pastry (two 14-ounce packages), thawed but still cold

Make the filling: Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shallot and jalapeños and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic powder, black pepper, coriander, turmeric, and salt and continue to cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the sirloin and peas and cook, stirring often, until the beef is cooked and most of the juices have evaporated, about 8 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and remove from heat. Set aside to cool completely.

Fill and bake the samosas: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg and milk together to make an egg wash and set aside.

Place the puff pastry on a cutting board. Cut out 6 (4 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch) squares of dough. Place about 1 1/2 heaping tablespoons of filling on the bottom half of each square of dough. Fold the dough over the filling, gently pressing out any air pockets, then crimp the edges closed with a fork. (Freeze any leftover filling in an airtight container for up to 1 month.)

Place the samosas 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Brush each samosa with the egg wash.

Place the baking sheet in the freezer for a few minutes before baking to firm up the butter. The chilled butter will melt slowly, producing steam as the pockets bake, which makes a crisp, even pastry rather than a lopsided and mushy one.

Bake the samosas until puffed and brown, about 15 minutes.

Two More Filling Options

For the curry chicken filling:
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup water
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until golden-brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the ginger and cook for another minute, stirring constantly. Add the garlic, paprika, garam masala, tomato paste, salt, and water. Mix well until all the ingredients are incorporated, then simmer for 2 minutes.

Add the chicken and cook, stirring often, until the chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes. The liquids should all be evaporated at this point. Remove from the heat and cool completely.

Transfer the chicken mixture to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and pulse 4 to 5 times. Remove from the food processor and proceed with filling the samosas.

For the mango and jaggery filling:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons shaved jaggery
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen 1/4-inch mango pieces

Melt the butter and jaggery in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin and mangoes and cook until the liquids have evaporated and the mangoes are glossy and coated with the jaggery, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Proceed with filling the samosas.

Recipe Notes

  • Puff pastry: Look for ready-made puff pastry in the freezer section, particularly those brands made with all butter rather than oil. They will have a richer flavor, and the dough will produce nice layers of pastry.

Reprinted with permission from My Two Souths: Blending the Flavors of India into a Southern Kitchen © 2016 by Asha Gomez with Martha Hall Foose, Running Press.

Image Credit: Asha Gomez

Find Asha's Book:

My Two Souths: Blending the Flavors of India into a Southern Kitchen by Asha Gomez