So, my mom calls last week and we're having our standard phone call where she's recounting details of the hideous hat my Aunt Gertrude* wore on their last lunch date or my Aunt Mildred's* strange obsession with bird feeders. All the while, I'm reading food blogs on the internet, occasionally throwing in a "Mmmm hmmm" or "Wow! I can't believe she did that" at appropriate intervals. Things are proceeding along fairly normally until my mother casually says, "Oh, so Aunt Ethel*, you know the one you met when you were two? The one who gave you the doll? Yeah, that one. Well she's visiting your city and I told her she should definitely drop by and visit because you ask about her all the time." Now, the average person would have pointed out the MANY fallacies in my mother's statements. The smarter person (i.e., me) quickly snapped out of blog reading mode and into disaster control mode because I knew darn well Aunt Ethel was making her way to my house at that very moment. I could either spend the precious seconds trying to reason with my mother or spend them cleaning purple slime off the kitchen counter (don't even ask).
So there I am, frantically shoving what the hubster lovingly refers to as my shoe shrine (30 pairs of shoes, ranging from my Chuck Taylors to my work heels) into the hall closet all the while dodging falling basketballs and winter gloves which were perched precariously on the top shelf, when my mother calmly says, "Oh, and don't forget to offer Aunt Ethel a snack when she visits." A snack?!? I was just about to ask if Aunt Ethel was a fan of pizza bites because I was sure we had a Costco-sized bag of those addictive little buggers in our freezer when the doorbell rang. Ah Aunt Ethel, never on time for family gatherings, always on time for unexpected visits.
Luckily, I had a giant bag of frozen samosas in the freezer that I could fry up. This was truly a godsend because a) I am sure Aunt Ethel would've called my mother the second she left and told her exactly what a failure I was if I'd served her pizza bites and b) I don't think she would've truly appreciated the joy that is a pizza bite so I certainly didn't want to waste them on her. So, I busted out the bag of frozen samosas and smiled politely while Aunt Ethel proceeded to nosily rifle through my kitchen cabinets while recounting details of the hideous hat my Aunt Gertrude wore on their last lunch date. All I can say after hearing about this hat for the second time is, that must be one hot mess of a hat.
So, samosas. These are not the fat, vegetarian, Indian samosas that are wrapped in a pastry that is almost like a pie dough. Rather, these are ground beef filled, Pakistani samosas. I use the same crispy wrapper that I use for my egg rolls. Samosas are also like egg rolls in that they provide a delicious supply of food at the ready. Hungry hubster? Fry up some samosas. Feel like a snack during that awfully long period between lunch and dinner? Fry up some samosas. Unexpected guests? You got it, fry up some samosas. When nosy aunts come to visit and I'm worried about the report they'll give to my mother, I serve my samosas with a lovely mint chutney. When there are no aunts in sight, the hubster and I eat our samosas with ketchup. Pedestrian and yet, delicious.
And even though they're a bit complicated to fold the first time, you'll soon be a folding pro. The best advice I've ever gotten came from the kindly (and toothless) old man who owns my favorite samosa stall in Pakistan. Early on, you shouldn't worry too much about making perfect triangles. He said this as he effortlessly folded perfect triangular samosas, chatted with his friends manning the neighboring stalls, and did hundreds of rupees of business. His mad samosa folding skills aside, I think his point was that if you focus on folding tight samosa parcels to ensure the filling stays inside, the perfect triangular shape will automatically come with time.
Just remember, the perfect triangular shape better come quickly because aunts, especially ones named Ethel, have a tendency to talk.
*Aunt names have obviously been changed to protect the innocent (i.e., me). My aunts have a mean left hook and I don't want to be on the receiving end.
Yields 36 samosas.
1 package TYJ Spring Roll Pastry (25 count)
1-1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2-3 cloves garlic
Small knob of ginger, grated
1 onion, diced
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground corriander
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cayenne
1/2 bunch chopped cilantro
Oil for frying
Saute onions until translucent. Add ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant. Add ground beef and spices (you may want to start with half the amount of spices listed above and then add more spices, seasoning to your preference. The potency of ground spices tends to vary between brands). Brown ground beef, making certain all of the ground beef juices have burned off. Remove from heat and let the ground beef cool. The mixture should be almost completely dry at this point. Add chopped cilantro.
Peel off two sheets of spring roll pastry at a time. Cut the double sheet into thirds. Keep the remainder of the pastry sheets under a damp towel so they do not dry out.
Fold each third (double sheet) into open-ended triangle. Fill with meat mixture. Complete folding into a triangle and seal with a flour/water paste. You should have one pastry sheet remaining at the end. That is the samosa folder's reward. Fry that baby up and eat it while you're waiting for your samosas to dry out.
Dry the folded samosas in the refrigerator. Store in a ziploc bag and freeze. Fry as needed. I imagine you could spray the samosas with a non-stick spray and bake them but this is simply conjecture. If I'm going to eat samosas, they're going to be fried samosas.
Serve with a dip of your choice. Ketchup is a completely acceptable, and quite possibly, perfect dip.