January 05, 2009

Baked samosas and aloo gobhi matar chana

Relatives in Connecticut went to a Mad Men-themed New Year's Eve party where guests were supposed to come in Mad Men appropriate attire and munch on food from the era. It's such a great idea—I was really jealous. The hosts served stuff like pigs in the blanket, deviled eggs, brisket cooked in Coca Cola, celery stuffed with cream cheese, Swedish meatballs, jello mold and whiskey cake. Hmmm. I wonder what the vegans ate in the 60s - probably brewers yeast loaf and rice patties!

Most vegan bloggers today probably weren't even born in the 60s, or were too young to be cooking. I was there, but still at home with my parents, and not cooking or thinking much about food choices. Some of the above foods, like the brisket in Coke and the whiskey cake, I've never heard of, but the others are at least familiar. (I just recently stuffed (tofu) cream cheese into celery!) But I have a clear memory of Swedish meatballs. Those were popular for a long time, and I remember my aunt serving them and telling me, with great excitement, her "secret" recipe. She mixed a bottle of ketchup and a can of 7-up to achieve the unique flavor of the sauce that made the meatballs the special treat that they were. Do people still do this? I wonder. I almost considered creating a vegan version but then had second thoughts.

Instead of 1960s American party food, here is a post about the timeless Indian cuisine that we enjoyed on New Year's Day.

My son wanted to make samosas for dinner and he found a video on the Internet with step by step directions. After consulting with me, he made a couple of changes to the recipe. He used white whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour for the crust (had to add more flour than in the recipe), and he baked them instead of frying them. I didn't see him make the filling but he said he used carrots instead of peppers. He rolled the pastry really thin and the resulting samosas were fantastic—light and delicate. They weren't heavy and greasy like they sometimes are at restaurants. The pastry he used to make 8 samosas used only 1 teaspoon of oil plus a light spray before baking!

To go with the samosas we had a low-fat variation of aloo gobhi with the addition of peas and garbanzos. It was tasty and satisfying. The recipe was adapted from a book we found at our local library.

Potatoes, cauliflower, peas and chickpeas (Aloo gobhi matar chana) adapted from a recipe in "Indian Light Cooking."
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 10 ounces frozen green peas
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed if from a can
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper powder (or ground cayenne pepper to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (or 1-1/2 cups finely chopped fresh)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
  1. Steam the potatoes, covered, in a small amount of water for about 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower and steam about 5 minutes more until almost tender.
  2. Combine the tumeric, cumin, red pepper powder and coriander in a small bowl. Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet or wok over moderate heat. Add the spices to the pan and stir-fry for about 5 seconds. (don't burn!)
  3. Add the drained potatoes and cauliflower (just remove them from the steaming pan with a slotted spoon) and chickpeas, and stir fry until they are lightly browned.
  4. Add the tomatoes and cook 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add about 1/4 cup of water. (use the vegetable cooking water if any is left)
  6. Add the peas.
  7. Cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  8. Add salt to taste. Garnish with coriander.


  1. Oh, YUM, more Indian dishes for me to try! Can't wait to try the potato-cauli dish. And I DO remember that brisket in coke--my Boston cousins used to make it all the time when I was a kid! They also had something called "Chili and Grape meatballs"--sauce made with one jar grape jelly and one bottle chili sauce! What a laugh. We also watch Mad Men in our house--what a great idea for a party! (Though it sounds like the food at your NY day was much better) :)

  2. PS--I suppose I should have written that, "brisket in Coke"--the lower case does suggest meat and drug, doesn't it? ;)

  3. I was wondering who out there would remember these oh-so-popular party dishes from the past. Chili and grape meatballs - I love it! I'm loathe to admit that I may have made those Swedish meatballs once or twice after I left home.

    And yes, the lower case "c" does suggest drugs. The thought crossed my mind as I proofed my post, but I didn't change it. I think I will.

  4. Wow, all your dishes look fantastic! The samosas sound delicious and fun to make. Thanks for your food inspiration - I definitely want to make alot of the food you post about.

  5. Krista, thanks for your comments! The samosas really were pretty easy to make — especially since they were baked and not fried. They were so good I'm thinking about making them again soon.

  6. Oh yummy! We look forward to samosas when we have Indian food, so I'd love to be able to make my own. It would be a huge plus to be able to customize the ratio of crust to filling!

  7. We loved these samosas. Because they were baked instead of fried, they weren't greasy at all. The crust was very easy to work with.


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