I have foods that are inextricably tied to certain places, events, and, more than perhaps anything else, people. Food memories can be a unique, visceral way of virtually transporting yourself to different times, places, and to connect – or reconnect – with distant friends or family.
I reconnect with my long-deceased grandparents with every Saint Patrick’s Day meal I cook– as well as every time I make a gumdrop (yes, gumdrop!) cookie. My mom is nearby now, but a batch of her gingersnaps were all it took to transport her to my college dorm room, from 2000 miles away. And speaking of college, my roommates and I were fueled by an eclectic combo of pad thai, berry smoothies, and queso dip with tortillas (all of which can still reconnect me in an instant).
Two days before our wedding, we hosted the out-of-town extended family – including my husband’s two grandmothers – for dinner. It was clear that I needed to cook; take out wouldn’t do. It was June, and I needed to feed a crowd. There was just one dish in my repertoire at that time that would do – balsamic chicken with linguine and basil. That dish brings the whole Swedish-Ukranian-Italian-American crew right back into my kitchen. And if we want to “visit” with the grandmothers one at a time, we settle down for a marathon of making pierogies or “manigotts” (manicotti in Southside Chicago Italian).
But not all of these intertwined memories are easy. Some are interwoven into relationships that are strained, or even broken. Rediscovering the recipe and creating new memories with it can redefine what you have gained from the lost relationship, as well as help to propel you past it. For me, samosas were a mainstay of my childhood, but a food memory from which I had become totally disconnected.
It was easier to pretend that I didn’t miss the food. Or that I really had no idea how to make it. But in the end, I reached out to my extended family – both literally and figuratively. I was able to recreate a childhood memory that can now be part of my own children’s food memories – hopefully without any strain or challenges caught up with them.
Many Indian restaurants in the United States use a puff pastry type dough to encase their samosas. This version instead uses a variation on southern Indian flatbread called a chapati. The filling is a fragrant, but not spicy, combo of ground beef, onions, diced potatoes and green peas. Because it is spiced, but not spicy this is actually a really kid-friendly dish.
And there is something about the the “portable” format of this type of food that is just enticing to otherwise suspicious eaters. (If you haven’t tried putting “different” ingredients in egg-roll wrappers, calzone dough, tortillas, or other similar formats – I highly recommend giving it a try! It can be a great way to get different foods into the diets of picky eaters.)
You can make the filling one day, and store overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, make the dough, allow it to rest, and then roll, fill and fry the samosas. If you have leftovers, store them in the refrigerator (or longer in the freezer). They reheat remarkably well – just pop them in your toaster oven (or in a pinch, the microwave, though they will be less crispy that way).
- ½ pound ground beef
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 medium russet potato chopped
- ¼ cup green peas frozen are fine
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon ginger powder
- 1 ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder
- 2 cups of flour 1/2 cup of the total can be whole wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup of water approximately
- In a pan, add the ground beef and saute for a few minutes or until it releases oil.
- Now add the onion and potatoes, stir until the onion is translucent. Add all the spices and salt, saute some more on medium high heat.
- Reduce the heat and cook until the onion turns light brown the beef is cooked. Cover the pan if needed, to ensure the potatoes cook through completely.
- Add the peas and cook for another three minutes. Keep aside.
- In a bowl, add all the ingredients (except water) and mix well.
- Gradually add the water and knead until you get a smooth and not sticky dough. The dough should have a little firmness to it.
- Cover the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Make 6 equal balls from the dough. Take one ball and roll with the rolling pin into a medium thickness circle around 6 inches. (This dough shouldn't need dry flour to roll).
- Use a knife to cut the circle into halves.
- Take one-half and fold into a cone. Seal along the fold
- Place this cone between your thumb and index finger. Fill the cone with the filling, might take two tablespoons or little less.
- Wet the edges of the dough with water and pinch to seal. Now you should have a triangle shaped samosa. Repeat this step with the rest of the dough and filling.
- Cover the samosas with a cloth and keep it aside for 20 minutes. You may also refrigerate up to overnight.
- In a medium pan, heat the frying oil. Add the samosas, but do not crowd the pan (I usually do several batches). Fry on medium heat until the samosa is golden brown. The frying time may take from 7 to 8 minutes.
What are your food memories? Tag me on Instagram with your favorites.
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