Most people would consider laziness an undesirable trait. People like parents. Teachers. Bosses.
But you know what? Sometimes great things are born out of laziness. Remember that batch of banana bread that turned into Banana Bread Pancakes? Genius!
When I decided that I wanted to make samosas this week, the one thing stopping me was the dough. Just thinking about out how to make it thin, flaky and crispy without deep-frying it, and hopefully gluten-free without any weird ingredients was enough to make me throw in the towel before even hitting the cutting board. I knew that I was entering into a multi-attempt recipe project, and that made me want to lay down and take a big ol’ nap, when all I wanted was to bite into a hot and spicy, crispy samosa. Oh, life is hard.
That’s when I remembered that laziness breeds wonderful ideas and before I knew it, I was rooting around in my cupboard, hunting for a solution, when it dawned on me: rice paper wraps.
Using rice paper to wrap a deliciously spiced Indian-style filling not only eliminates gluten, but also the need to deep fry. The rice paper becomes crisp in the oven with the smallest brush of melted oil (ghee is delicious and appropriate with the Indian flavours, but coconut oil works great for a vegan version). The other bonus is that they are beautiful! The rice paper is transparent, revealing the gorgeous colours and textures of the filling inside. Although these are a far cry from traditional samosas, I am super pleased with the results.
Deep-frying: deeply troubling
I did a fun little experiment today and looked up “the healthiest oils for deep frying” online. I went on a few forums and was sad to see how many people are still deep-frying with olive oil thinking that they are doing themselves a favor. Yikes! Didn’t they read my post about ghee?
But why is deep-frying so not-good-for-you? It’s because heating fats above their respective burning temperature (also known as the “smoke point”) causes fats to decompose. Fat decomposition causes chemical changes that not only reduce flavour and nutrient content, but more detrimentally create harmful cancer-causing compounds, called free radicals. You can easily tell when a fat has reached it smoke point simply by placing a bit of it in an empty pot, cranking up the heat and waiting for it to turn to a gaseous vapour. Sadly, this is they way most people start the cooking process! Even just inhaling those vapours is harmful, so avoid heating delicate fats like olive oil in all cases.
If you are going to be doing any deep-frying or sautéing at high heat, remember to use a high-temperature stable cooking fat, such as coconut oil or ghee (clarified butter). These are the two oils that I cook with exclusively. Ghee has more flavour, but if I want to make a vegan version of a recipe, I’ll use an aroma-free coconut oil.
These little treats would make a delicious appetizer at an Indian-themed meal, but they are also a great snack all on their own. I urge you to make the Sweet n’ Spicy Mint Chutney that accompanies the recipe, as this with the samosas is a match made in heaven! The samosa filling is rather salty, so the sweetness and heat from the chutney is a fabulous balancer. The chutney is also delicious folded into a rice or quinoa salad, which is what I made the next day for my lunch. I threw in some chickpeas, freshly grated carrots, spring onion and lots of fresh lime juice. Delish! And so easy to make.
The samosas are most delicious right out of the oven, but hey will keep for a day. The wrappers lost their crispiness after a while, but they are still delicious. Try taking some to work the day after with a little dollop of chutney on the side. Your co-workers will be sooo jealous (which is the whole point of bringing your lunch, right?).
Knowing in my heart that I couldn’t be the only lazy mastermind to come up with this idea, I searched online to find that there were a few folks indeed, who had experienced a similar brainwave. This was also convenient for me, to see that the samosas would actually turn out in the end.
If you want very clear instructions on how to assemble the samosas, I found a video of a woman making these with rice paper too. Thanks Kittee! She is one groovy lady with wonderful instructions. Although our filling and chutney are different, our processes are almost identical and you’ll be able to see how she folds the wrappers, which may be helpful.
Fully-loaded Spring Samosas
8 round rice paper wrappers (for spring rolls) 8.5” / 22cm
You can also use 16 wrappers and double them up for extra strength
knob of ghee or coconut oil
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. minced ginger
¾ tsp. sea salt
½ cup unsalted unroasted cashews
¼ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
3 medium carrots
1 ½ / 250g cup green peas
1 cup chickpeas
2 cups / 75g firmly packed fresh baby spinach
1 Tbsp. cumin seeds
½ Tbsp. mustard seeds
½ tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. coriander
¼ tsp. cardamom
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
cayenne (to taste)
1. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast cashews until lightly golden. Remove from heat, roughly chop, and set aside. In the same skillet lightly toast coconut until golden. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Dice onion and carrots to about the size of the peas.
3. Heat a knob of oil in a frying pan. Add the cumin and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to “pop” add the onion and the remaining spices and minced ginger. Cook five minutes, then add the garlic. Cook a couple minutes, then add carrots. Stir to coat with spices, cook five minutes, add peas and chickpeas. Remove from heat and stir in spinach, coconut and cashews.
4. Pour a couple inches or water into a large flat-bottomed bowl or shallow dish. One at a time, place a rice paper wrap in the water and let soften, just until it becomes pliable (this step is important! Do not let the paper become completely soggy or the rice paper will split while baking. There should still be some pattern visible on the surface). Remove from water and place rice paper on a clean, flat surface. Using a very sharp knife or a pizza cutter, slice the rice paper circle in half. On both halves, place a generous scoop of the filling. Fold the bottom corner about a third of the way up the round side of the half (see photo), followed by the top corner to meet the base of the fold you just made, creating a triangle. Fold the round edge up onto the top of the package to seal it, and flip it over. This is now the top of the samosa. Repeat steps with the remaining rice paper and filling.
5. Melt about a tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil in a small saucepan. Lightly brush the tops of the samosas with a tiny bit of oil (this will create a nice crisp crust). Sprinkle with coconut if desired.
6. Place samosas in a 400°F / 200°C oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and flip over to crisp on the other side. Bake for another 10 minutes until lightly browned and crisp. Remove from oven and serve hot with the Sweet n’ Spicy Mint Chutney.
Sweet n’ Spicy Mint Chutney
2 cups firmly packed mint leaves (no stems)
1 clove garlic
1 tsp. minced ginger
2 Medjool dates
1 fresh serrano chili (or cayenne pepper to taste)
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 Tbsp. cold-pressed olive oil
salt to taste
1. Wash mint leaves well to remove nay dirt. Spin dry.
2. In a food processor pulse garlic, ginger, and chili to finely mince. Add dates, mint leaves, lime juice and olive oil. Blend on high until smooth and creamy. Add salt to taste. Add more olive oil to thin, if necessary.
3. Serve immediately. Store leftovers in a tightly sealed glass container in the fridge for four days.
I hope you all get lazy and make these too!