At 5pm on Friday Samir and I were busy wrapping dozens of mango samosas by hand. This recipe was one we really weren’t sure about. In theory, it sounds great to me – a spiced mango filling wrapped in a homemade samosa pastry crust. Basically, it would be a fried mango pie. What’s not to like? While some other recipes had the benefit of generations of family taste tests, this recipe was brand new. Aside from a small handful of friends, no one had ever tasted this dish before.
“This is why we are having a tasting party though,” I thought. With this idea in mind, we pressed on.
For the last tasting, I was nervous because I was coming off of a cold and couldn’t taste anything. While I was substantially less anxious about this tasting than the last one, I was still on edge. We had even more of the food writers, bloggers, and chefs coming. I’m not a chef. And, I don’t have any formal training. I’m a passionate cook, who has learned from his mom and grandmother. Sometimes I worry that maybe that’s not enough. I got into this business because I love food and love making people happy through food. I love that first minute of a great meal when everyone eats in silence because they are so consumed with delicious food that they can do nothing else. The responses from the tasting have made me more sure that I made the right decision when I picked up my life and moved to LA to open a food truck. Among many positive comments, one from a chef (who I had not met before that night) stood out: “I have been looking for that one dish that makes me like lamb…and this was it.” I told him it was the nicest thing anyone had ever said about my cooking.
The Tasting Menu:
Samosas: a savory pastry filled with a mix of potatoes, onions, peas, and Indian spices, served with an apple tamarind chutney.
Tandoori Paneer Naanwich: an Indian style cheese with a mild taste similar to ricotta, but with a firm texture like tofu. We marinate it in yogurt, lemon juice, and spices including garlic, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and others. It has a bright red-orange color from chili powder, paprika, and turmeric. We stuff a naan with the chicken and top it with grilled onions and peppers, fresh spinach, and a cooling yogurt cilantro chutney.
Lamb Curry Naanwich: A braised lamb, slow cooked for hours in a tomato, onion, and yogurt based gravy until it falls apart. This dish is similar to a traditional Indian “curry.” Also wrapped in a naan with grilled onions and peppers, fresh spinach, and yogurt cilantro chutney.
Mango Samosa: A dessert version of the classic samosa, filled with mango, cinnamon, and a hint of chili