It’s been awhile since I’ve been back to east Africa. It’s a place that once wholly captured me. I thought I would never come back. Last night, instead of packing, I found myself sorting through my photos from a few years ago to give you a taste (if you’ve never been to Kenya or Tanzania or Uganda)–of how diverse and gorgeous it is.
My friend Elissa has written a bit lately about how hard it is to eat well on the road, and I’m apt to agree. For long trips like this, I try to bring something to get me through.Kimberley started a nice series about bringing food to eat well on the road, organized by mode of transportation. She lists some good airplane options, as well as some truly creative car recipes that involve throwing a rice cooker in your trunk.
For me, portability and sturdiness are paramount when making food with which to travel. In my east Africa state of mind, I thought immediately of samosas. You can get samosas on just about every street corner or any tiny shop in a place like Tanzania—a culinary legacy dating from British colonial times when Indian servants were imported to the continent. They’re generally deep fried and really good.My version here has a whole wheat, baked crust, which is less messy to transport and doesn’t get soggy or crumble. I lay them flat on parchment paper, lightly wrap them and then seal in a gallon zipper bag. This travels just fine in my carry-on rolling suitcase, on top of the clothes.
I’m in the cab on the way to the airport, so see you in September, friends.
Baked samosas with whole wheat crust
You will need
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup water + a few more tablespoons
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 cups chopped vegetables (for this recipe, I used onion, peppers, and collard greens, which is actually pretty similar to what you’d find somewhere like Tanzania. Feel free to use what you have.)
1 tablespoon coriander
1 tablespoon cumin
A pinch garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
Melted butter or ghee
In a skillet, heat the oil. Add aromatics first, such as onion and garlic, then the rest of the vegetables, sauteeing until they are very tender and slump together a bit. Stir in coriander, cumin, garam masala, and salt. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit.
Add flour, salt, and olive oil to a mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup water and stir. Add more water, tablespoon by tablespoon, mixing with your hands as you go, until the mixture forms a cohesive dough. You don’t want a sticky dough, just one that stays together. Knead it with your hands for a minute or so, until it’s elastic.
Break off a handful of dough and form it into a ball. You’re looking for about a 3-inch ball of dough. Flatten the ball, then, on a floured surface, roll out the ball into a thin circle—pretty much as thin as you can go. Slice the circle in half, into two semi-circles.
On one half of the semi-circle, spoon some of the filling (I used a few tablespoons in each). Fold the other half of the semi-circle over on top of the filling, so it forms a rounded triangle, and crimp both edges. Continue with the rest of the dough and filling. Place the assembled samosas on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush the samosas with melted butter or ghee. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the samosas have crisped up a bit but the dough still gives a little under your fingers if you push down on one.
Serve hot or cold. I like them with a dipping sauce, like a sriracha yogurt sauce or sour cream.