Saturday, March 03, 2007

february was vegan abandon month

Yeah, I know. This post is coming out in March, but I need to document an experiment before it fades from memory.

My cousin Rohan dropped by last weekend after hitting the farmer's market. A strict vegan, he unloaded his veggies all over my counter and then said "ho, what have we here?" and presented me with two pounds of ground lamb.
"Damn, bloody hell Rohan, what gives with the meat?"
"Well, Ted had some good looking stuff and I was hungry for samosas."
"LAMB samosas? Are you running a fever of something? The last time I checked, lamb was still considered meat."
"But it's february."
"And I eat some meat and a few sorts of carefully selected animal based items then."

His logic went something along the lines of this: being the shortest month of the year, if a vegan is going to "loosen" their restrictions for a bit, then it makes sense to have it be then. We were nursing beer while he pontificated on this one, and by the end of his diatribe I was grinding up a garam masala. At least he offered to do more than play with bread this time and set about making a dough for the samosas.
"Really, it's kinda like your grandma's pasta dough, but without the egg. You'll get the hang of it in no time."
While our dough was resting, he sauteed the lamb with an onion and potatoes, then finished it with peas. He showed me how to pack the dumplings and while assembling them, we began to fry them as we went.

They looked delicious and were well received by the mouths around. We all gorged on at least two, but had leftovers. Bummer. They might not be as crisp the next day, but tasty indeed. I immediately looked forward to waking up the next day. I fed my starter, and started thinking of what to add to my dough tomorrow. Rohan raised a brow at the prospect of bread, and begged to crash on the couch, promising to not snore too loudly, and even referring to making breakfast for us sometime before noon, if he should wake.

The following morning we had plenty of leftover meat filling, so Ro heated it in a pan and poured in some scrambled eggs. It was before noon, a two full hours in fact. I began thinking that maybe he should eat meat more often.
"What do you call this dish cousin? Samosa scramble?" I asked.
"Nah, Huevos Rohanos. Hey these eggs are nice and fresh amigo, did you get them at the tienda or the farm-mark?"
"Yeah fresh indeed, from Senor Velasquez at the Tuesday night. They're laid the day or two before I get them, can't beat it huh?
"No you can't. Hey did I ever tell you about the time a chicken laid an egg in my hand while I was holding it?"

Always one-upping me that guy; fuck he can be annoying sometimes......

Before the scramble, while he was getting his beauty rest, the monkey and I pounded out some sourdough, and shortly after breakfast, we punched it down for the first time.
"Hey can I run an experiment with some dough?" he wondered aloud.
"Sure, what'cha thinking? Calzones?"
"Whoa, how'd you guess?"
"We've made them together before Ro, remember?"
"Kinda, did we have a few beers?"
"I'm positive. Maybe even more than a few."
He sighed. "Oh yeah.......those were rippin'!"

We formed a few rounds and filled them with our meat filling and a bit of jack cheese, then folded them over and crimped the edges. Into the oven they went. When they came out, we did a side by side taste test with the samosas as the challenger. I included some hot mango chutney as a dip for my samosa and Rohan went with some hot pepper spread for his calzone. I suspected that he wouldn't hardly touch the spread, not for lack of taste, but distraction with the sourdough encasing the lamby, spiced filling and cheese.

We reflected on my latest reading adventures and started to pick apart our meal. The lamb was a touch "older" tasting as they tend to be this time of year at the ripe age of one or so. The potatoes were creamy and soft and complimented the green pop of the peas nicely. Our garam masala was just divine for this flavor pairing, and the construction of the samosas was a simple task to execute overall. The calzones were equally yummy and the sourdough had a nice chewy texture and strong flavor that went well with the seasoned lamb. Looking at the two side by side, I thought about how it represents my cousin and I. I'm thinner skinned and a bit crunchy on the outside. He's soft and doughy, but a bit sour. But we both have the same insides, even if his is a little.....cheesey.

I love my cousin dearly, even if he is a total quack. And with an ever-changing set of culinary restrictions, he is a hard man to pin down. I can't wait for our next adventure in californio indian cuisine. Until then, this is more or less what we did:


garam masala for this:
1 t cardamom seeds
1 T black peppercorns
2 t coriander seeds
1 t cumin seeds
1 t brown mustard seeds
6 cloves
1 stick cinnamon

grind into powder and store in a sealed container. this made about twice as much as needed for the meat filling.

lamb filling:
2 pounds ground lamb
1 pound russian fingerling potatoes
1 large yellow onion
1 cup frozen peas
garam masala powder
1/4 t turmeric

saute onion with about a tablespoon of the garam masala in hot oil. add lamb and continue to cook. add diced potatoes and cook until lamb is no longer pink anywhere. decide that it needs a bit of yellow stain for those creamy potatoes and add some staining powder. cover and lower the temp, checking every few minutes until the potatoes are tender. add peas, stir, replace cover and remove from heat. make dough while this is cooling some.

samosa dough:
1 c whole wheat flour
1 c all purpose flour
1/4 cup canola oil
about 1 c warm water
1 t salt

combine flours and salt with oil. begin mixing and start to add water to the dough a few tablespoons at a time until it starts to form a shaggy ball of sorts. knead for what seems like ten minutes and set aside to rest for a while. divide into 12 balls and begin rolling each into a flat disk. roll each disk into a cone, pack the hole with filling, fold over the "flap" and pinch the edges closed. the pot we fried these in would only hold two at a time, which worked out to be perfect as it took about as long to fry them as it took to construct two more. serve with your favorite hot style condiment and a large beer or two.

Should you feel adventurous and want to try the filling stuffed into a dough of sorts, go right ahead, you'll like it. Indian lamb calzones are really good. We were kinda pissed we only made two, as it necessitated us reverting back to childhood and fighting about who got the bigger one. We never really grow up do we? Especially with family around.


Callipygia said...

After tucking into these, I'll bet he is sorry that February is over. Love lamb and I love samosas... the recipe sounds great. What about cooking the calzones stovetop on the griddle, greased of course. To get the crunchiness on all sides? And Fast Food Nation, that is a good way to get back into a meat-less March!

cookiecrumb said...

Oh, damn, you always have dough in your house.
I've got to get in touch with my wheatiness.
Breakfast of champiness.

D-man said...

Calli: Tuck he did, in fact he tried to claim there was a 29th this year to have more.
Griddled sounds good. I'll let you know when I 'speriment with that one.
FFN is a good read indeed, I'm about halfway through. And in theme with the fries in that one: Later tater.

Cookie: With three starters currently living in my fridge, I've been making something dough related at least every two to four days. There is no lack of sourdough opportunities around here, and should you need some to help you find your inner wheat, just ask.

Mallika said...

You made samosa? Respect!

I have toyed with the idea but the deep frying at the end always puts me off.

D-man said...

Mallika: Thank you! They were time consuming, not really quick Indian food I guess, but delicious. I too hesitate about the frying part, but I really wanted them and baking wasn't going to cut it. Thanks for coming by!