The older I get, the more I dislike crowds. When I was in college, the idea of a packed club, a crowded party, and a mobbed dance floor was exhilarating. Now, it sort of makes me wince—hot and sweaty with bad beer and no clear path to the bathroom? No thanks. These days, I prefer my dance parties in the living room after a great meal or in the kitchen while doing the dishes.
Needless to say, our New Year’s Eve plans this year did not involve going out. Tony and I decided that we could probably cook just about anything we could find in a restaurant and at half the price. We combed through Indian cookbooks, searched the internet and assembled a hearty Indian menu. The night would start with homemade potato samosas and papadums which we would dip in three sauces: a spicy cilantro sauce, a sweet and tangy tamarind sauce, and a cool herbed yogurt sauce. Next we’d move to a rich, long-simmered lamb curry and a creamy chicken korma, which we would pile on top of perfumey basmati rice and scoop it all up with soft, homemade naan.
We knew we needed a few more hands to actually pull this meal off, so we invited Mom and Dad and Maggy and Andy to join the fun. Andy requested we start the meal with a spicy cucumber, cilantro, and gin cocktail, and Mom volunteered to make toasted coconut ice cream for dessert. And so the meal plan got bigger and more exciting.
Tony and I spent the better part of two days trying to find all the ingredients we needed. Most of the spices weren’t hard to come by, but we trekked all over Southeastern Pennsylvania in search of whole cardamom pods, tamarind concentrate, and a strange spice called asafetida (which we never did find).
When December 31st arrived, we rose early and cooked all day. The curries turned out wonderfully—rich and deeply spiced with fall-apart-tender chunks of meat; the naan was pillowy soft and hot out of the oven; the cocktails were cool, zippy, and refreshing; and the ice cream was lush and creamy. Tony and I were extremely proud of the whole meal—how it tasted and how hard we’d worked to pull it off. But most of all, we were proud of the samosas. We’d made naan, curries, and homemade ice cream before. We’ve tried plenty of new cocktails and toiled over interesting sauces. But we had never attempted samosas. These flaky little pastries filled with spiced potatoes and peas are a must-have appetizer at Indian restaurants, but they seemed so complicated to make. Most cookbooks call for puff pastry as a shortcut. But this meal was not about shortcuts.
There is no two ways about it, these little guys were time consuming, but they weren’t difficult to make. We started by making the filling, then we made the dough (which, in the food processor, is a cinch). When we were ready to make the samosas, we called for back up. The whole family got involved as we divided and rolled out the dough, made and filled the samosas, and finally fried them quickly and served them piping hot with our sauce line-up. Our samosas were amazing…possibly better than any I’ve had at a restaurant. They were perfectly crispy and flaky on the outside and warm and spicy on the inside. And they couldn’t come out of the oil fast enough!
These are definitely a new 3MC favorite…should we be embarrassed that we made them again the next night to eat with our leftovers? Sure, samosas are not weeknight fare, but they are a fun cooking project for a group. It really speeds up the process having three or four sets of hands. Grab a beer and make a night of it. Trust me, it’s so worth it.