Wednesday, February 5, 2014

First Prize Pongal: Money Bag Baked Samosas with Savory Pongal Filling, and 1st Prize from Manjula's Kitchen Contest

For this month’s contest, I had to think hard in terms of creativity, and practicality. Pongal, the Tamil Harvest festival falls on the 14th of January, and so does the Eastern Orthodox New Year (I am originally from Moldova). They are fixed dates, since the calendar follows the solar calendar. Usually I make separate dishes to celebrate these two holidays in one day, but this year I combined the two traditions into one. Or maybe I combined three traditions into one: North Indian, South Indian and Moldovan! The result is a corn flour based pastry for samosa, filled with the savory South Indian ven pongal. (Corn is a grain that symbolizes prosperity in Moldova and it is thrown around the house as a blessing on New Year’s Day).
Rice filled pastries are popular throughout the world, but the pongal samosa is a true hit! And, to celebrate festivity and good luck, I shaped these samosas into “money bag” shapes! They are crisp, beautiful, and most importantly very tasty. And healthier too- they are baked.
Making the Samosa Pastry
  • 2.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow corn flour
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • water to knead
  1. Mix the flour, corn flour, oil and salt together.
  2. Add water gradually and knead everything into a pliable, but firm dough.
  3. Keep aside, covered with a damp towel, for 30 minutes to rest.
Making the Samosa Filling
  • 1 cup raw rice
  • 1/2 cup yellow split moong bean (dal)
  • 1 tablespoon Salt
Seasoning Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 16 cashew nuts
  • Curry leaves- a few
  1. Wash the rice and the split mung dal and pressure cook along with salt for 10 minutes
  2. Lightly mash cooked rice and dal with a fork.
  3. Heat ghee, add the black pepper, cumin seeds. When the seeds splutter, add the ginger paste, cashews and the curry leaves, and fry, stirring, till cashews turn golden brown.
  4. Add the seasoning to the cooked rice and dal and mix well. Let cool.
Assembling the Samosas:
  1. Divide the pastry dough into roughly 14-16 balls and roll each portion into round disks about 7 inches diameter
  2. Place a small amount of rice filling into the center. Bring the sides of the circle to the center and pleat to form a purse, or bag. Pinch the dough together. Optionally, have a few strands of cooked rice noodles and wrap around the bag to form a tie.
  3. Place on a greased cookie sheet .
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  5. Bake the money bag samosas till crisp and golden in color (about 30 minutes)
  6. Serve with tamarind chutney or your favorite sauce.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Happy Pongal and St. Vasile! Happy New Year!

Some "money bag" golden mamaliga, and a full blown (ah well) South Indian repertoire for Pongal.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Very White, Yet Colourful Christmas

 This has been the first White Christmas (Eastern Orthodox as well) since 2002. Of course we would drive to NM or some other places to see snow, but it's not the same. Home for Christmas is the best of celebrations! 

To celebrate color, since we moved to Colorful Colorado last year, I chose to play with one of the most favourite winter salads that feature on the Christmas/ New Year table in Moldova and other Eastern European countries: The Vinegret. Diced carrots, potatoes, pickled cucumbers, beets and peas (or/and beans), tossed with a tad of black pepper, vinegar and oil make a wonderful, heart warming winter salad.

Since the  occasion is so special, I got my salad dressed up in a very festive Rubik's cube attire: the dressing is made of green peas and the above mentioned condiments.

Three Cheers for the Vinegret!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Ending the Year on a Sweet Note, Starting it with Same

Mango Kulfi Cheesecake- the flavours of cardamom, saffron, mixed with mango and pistachios, and the luscious cream cheese, topped with white chocolate, made the year end a treat!-and so was the start.
Besides, hubby said this was the best cake I ever made. Which made me think....

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