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Baked Vegetable Samosas, Spicy Red Bell Pepper Aioli

Baked Vegetable Samosas, Spicy Red Bell Pepper Aioli Recipe - The café in the Dekalb Farmers Market in Decatur, Georgia, is where I had my first samosa—and it’s still maybe the best I have ever had. That market was the perfect place for a young, aspiring cook. It was the size of a Sam’s Club. A full third of the floor space was given to fresh produce, 60 percent of which I could not begin to identify. Several thousand square feet were devoted to dried goods, canned goods, and noodles. One bakery continually put out fresh flatbreads from India, Mexico, Italy, and Ethiopia. There was a space where they ground coffee beans from every corner of the planet, and a wine and spirits section that occupied a full 30 percent of the floor space. But the real gem was the little café in the corner of the market, where they prepared dishes from all over the world. And those samosas, busting at the seams with potatoes, peas, turmeric, and cumin seeds, still haunt my dreams.
These require some dedication and zeal, but they are totally worth it. They were also the first thing I ever tasted with Sriracha. I recommend the combination highly.

SERVES 10
MAKES 20 PASTRIES
Baked Vegetable Samosas, Spicy Red Bell Pepper Aioli Recipe

Ingredients

Dough
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • 1½ teaspoons whole ajwain (also spelled ajowan) seeds, or ½ teaspoon ground cumin + ½ teaspoon ground thyme (see Notes)
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • ¼ cup water, plus more if needed

Filling
  • 2 large yellow waxy potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 1½ teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 3 curry leaves (see Notes)
  • 1½ tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1½ tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 serrano pepper, sliced
  • ¾ cup chopped red onion
  • 1¼ cups green peas
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper

Spicy Red Pepper Aioli
  • 2 cups mayonnaise, preferably Duke’s
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ⅓ cup Harissa (this page)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups oil for frying

How to make Baked Vegetable Samosas, Spicy Red Bell Pepper Aioli

  1. MAKE THE DOUGH In a medium bowl, blend the flours and salt together with a fork. Add the yogurt and ajwain seeds, stirring with the fork to blend. Add the butter, stirring until the dough begins to come together. Add water a tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together fully. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 4 to 5 minutes. Wrap in plastic and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. MAKE THE FILLING Place the potatoes in a small pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to low. Simmer until the point of a knife pierces them easily, about 25 minutes. Drain and place the potatoes in a bowl of cold water to cool. Drain, pat dry, and peel the potatoes. Transfer to a bowl, mash briefly, and set aside. You want some lumps in your filling, so don’t mash the potatoes until smooth.
  3. In a large sauté pan, heat the canola oil over medium heat for 1 minute and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and curry leaves. Sauté for 30 seconds. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and serrano pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the red onion, peas, turmeric, and cayenne and sauté until the onion is transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved potatoes, salt, and black pepper and continue to cook until the mix is warmed through. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. MAKE THE AIOLI Stir together the mayonnaise, garlic, harissa, and salt in a glass bowl until well combined. Store aioli in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  5. Divide the dough into ten balls. Roll each one into a thin 6-inch disk and cut it in half. Pick up a half round of dough by the two corners of the cut side and, with your hands, shape the dough into a cone and seal the edge with a touch of water. Hold the cone in your hand like an ice cream cone and fill with some of the filling. Fold the top over and seal the top of the samosa with a touch of water. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
  6. Heat 1½ inches of oil in a large skillet (cast iron, preferably) to 350°F. Fry the samosas in batches for 2 minutes per side, turning regularly, until golden brown all over. Serve hot with the aioli.
NOTES
Ajwain seeds, also known as “bishop’s weed,” has an aroma and flavor of thyme and a hint of anisette. It can be found easily online and frequently at Whole Foods or any local health foods store.
Curry leaves are kryptonite for mere mortals. They are the best-kept secret in the culinary world, and employing them in your cooking moves you a solid step closer to creating Indian food you can hang your hat on. Fresh is the only way to really use curry leaves. They can be found at Indian specialty stores. A little goes a long way, so if you procure a package, store the remainder in your freezer, where they keep perfectly. Dried are available and certainly serve a purpose, but dry leaves do not produce the same result as fresh when seasoning an oil.