Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Weekly Vegan: Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes with Mint Dipping Sauce

For this week's vegan entry, I decided to go with a food that naturally lends itself to the vegan way- Indian food (plus I may have been in the midst of a curry craving). The spices do all the talking and don't need to be carried by fancy meats. Typically, a quality Indian meal requires several dishes and a lot of hard work, so I enlisted the help of frequent cupcake eater Heather (there's no "I" in "Indian"!) to sous chef it up for a neat take on samosas and some lentil and cauliflower curry.

Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes
Adapted from  Veganomicon  by I. Moskowitz & T. Romero
Servings: 8
Time: 90 minutes (or 30 if you cheat)

Not pictured: the 2 we mutilated.
4 large Russet potatoes, scrubbed
1/4 cup veggie broth
2 tbsp peanut oil + extra for brushing
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 small yellow onion, diced
6 baby carrots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced or grated
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp tumeric
Salt to taste
1/2 cup frozen peas
Juice of 1 lemon
White wine 

Little did you know, Indians created the world's greatest mashed potatoes.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Bake the potatoes! This is the big time suck. You can wrap them in aluminum foil and cook them for 40-60 minutes  or you could place them bare on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and covered in salt (which will help them heat evenly through). Personally, I'd recommend cheating and getting those potatoes wrapped in plastic that you stick in the microwave for 5 minutes and using the rest of the time to drink the wine. 
  3. Once the potatoes have cooled, cut them in half lengthwise and scoop out the insides except for about 1/4 inch near the skin. Be extra careful because the skins will fall apart if you're too rough. (It was at this point that my complete and utter manliness proved to be detrimental and Heather had to take over.)
  4. Mash the gathered potato innards with the veggie broth and set aside.
  5. Warm the peanut oil in a skillet over medium heat them add the mustard and coriander. Let them cook for 1-2 minutes until it gets fragrant.
  6. Add the onions and carrots and saute until the onions begin to brown (about 8 minutes).
  7. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute more.
  8. Mix in the cumin, turmeric and salt. Deglaze with a splash of white wine. 
  9. Add the mashed potatoes and some wine if it's too dry.
  10. Stir in the peas then add lemon juice once they're heated through.
  11. Brush the inside of the potato skins with oil then spoon in the samosa filling. Press down lightly to keep them in place.
  12. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
  13. Garnish with mint dipping sauce (see below) and serve.
Next time, I'll put a little flag on top for a samosa boat.
This starter/side was the real impetus behind Indian Vegan night. While scouring the vast Veganomicon, I found myself quite intrigued by the idea of an Indian stuffed potato and was determined to try it. The samosa filling itself is spot on (Personally, I like the peas best). Just make sure to put a healthy amount of wine towards the end of cooking it to prevent it from being too dry. Unfortunately, the potato skin didn't do the trick for me aside from visually (these would go great as hors d'oeuvres using smaller potatoes). It just doesn't have that crunch I want from my samosas (fun fact: I can never remember if it's samosa or samoa thanks to a crippling girl scout cookie addiction), so even though it tasted great I found myself wishing for a crispy fried dough outer casing. Luckily, my qualms with this would be quickly alleviated by the phenomenal dipping sauce. 

Mint Dipping Sauce
Servings: extremely little (you probably want to double or triple this)
Time: 5 minutes

1 cup fresh mint leaves
2 tbsp cilantro
Handful of onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1-2 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
1 tsp sugar
Juice of 1/2-1 lemon
3 tbsp water
Salt to taste

  1. Invite all the ingredients to a crazy (yet tragic) party in your blender.
  2. Puree until smooth.
  3. Chill in the fridge.
Mint flavor really is something I typically don't want around my food (it's reserved for cleaning my teeth and getting all over my bathroom counter afterwards). When done right, though, mint can liven up any dish and boost the refreshment exponentially. This mint sauce had just the right amount of sweetness and mint with a hint of ginger and garlic that was perfect to aid the somewhat dry (as it should be) samosa. I just wish I had paid better attention to the real ratios I was putting together (my sister must have rubbed off on me during A Very Vegan Christmas), so I could perfectly recreate it later (and not feel like a bad chemist).

It's like a rainbow...
Our second vegan night was off to a fantastic start (I know I complained a lot about the potato skin, but this really was one damn tasty samosa) and my first team up with Heather was going smoothly (even if part of me was worried she was just helping to be close to the wine), but the main course (and real highlight of the night) was still to come. Stay tuned for the suspenseful conclusion of red lentil and cauliflower curry where I prove I can make a meal with as few colors and textures as humanly possible!

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