Make your own samosas

17 11 2009

It’s really hard to find decent savory things to snack on. If you want sweet stuff there is masses of choice but for people who like their salty snacks, crisps seem to be the only option. Pondering this dilemma the other weekend, I decided to make a big batch of samosas as they are the perfect savory snack.

For the pastry:

Ready made pastry (filo or puff)

Or make your own

220g plain flour

3 table spoons olive oil


  • Sieve the flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre of the bowl and add a table spoon of olive oil. Mix the oil with the flour. Continue to add the oil and mix it until it is all added.
  • By now your flour and oil mix will be starting to resemble dough. Add small amounts of water and keep mixing until you have a smooth, stretchy dough.
  • Wrap the dough in cling film and place it in the fridge.

For the filling:

half a teaspoon tamarind paste

teaspoon Garam Masala

teaspoon paprika

teaspoon cumin

teaspoon coriander

teaspoon turmeric

a large potato diced

one onion

chopped up garlic clove

chopped up inch of ginger

chopped up chilli

other vegetables of your choice diced

meat diced if you want

  • Heat up some vegetable oil in a large saucepan or wok at a medium heat. Add the cumin to the pan. Once you can smell the cumin getting nutty, add the onions and put a lid on the pan.
  • After a few minutes, the onions should be soft. Add the garam masala, turmeric, tamarind and paprika.
  • Add the garlic, ginger and chilli. Allow them to fry for about 5 minutes.
  • At this point you can add the rest of your ingredients at your discretion based on what kind of samosa you would like to be eating. Add the coriander near the end of your cooking.
  • Once all your filling has cooked, take it off the heat and allow it to cool down. The longer you leave it, the better the flavour. Overnight is ideal.

Making the samosas:

  • Roll your dough into a log and divide it into sections that are about 4cm thick.
  • Roll each section into a flat circle about the thickness of a ten pence piece. Cut each circle in half and make them into half cones. Add the filling and then seal. Water will make the dough sticky so rub some water onto the joins.
  • Deep fat fry or oven bake. Brush with olive oil to oven bake.

Have fun eating them!


The Tamarind Tree Cocktail

16 10 2009

These days when you want a drink that’s not wine or beer you have to pretty much drink something that tastes like it was designed with children in mind. Here at the Tamarind Tree we like to drink something a bit more exotic and unique which doesn’t give us a week’s supply of sugar in one sip.

This is the cocktail that I choose to drink whenever I can get hold of some good quality tamarind paste. Taking a sip puts you in mind of what cocktails are really about – dreams, aspirations and escapism. You may spend your weekdays slaving for someone else and your weekends doing chores but for half an hour you can pretend you’re gliding along the Nile being fanned by a coterie of gorgeous men.

sailing sunset

First you need to make a syrup.


2 red chillies – not ones that are too strong

some brown sugar

some water

small amount of tamarind paste

The key with this bit is to add the ingredients to your personal taste. Add all the ingredients to a saucepan at a medium heat. Stir it all up until tamarind breaks up and mixes thoroughly. Heat until all the sugar dissolves. Add more or less water as required for the sugar.

Let the syrup cool. It’s a good idea to make it in advance and keep it in the fridge.

When life gets too much, grab a tumbler and add some ice, soda water and a finger of rum with tamarind syrup to taste. Garnish with a cinnamon stick. Enjoy and say hi to the boys from me.

Top ten herbs & spices

16 10 2009

Sometimes in this modern world we get into bad, lazy habits. The decline in the use of herbs and spices is an example of this. For the past few years I have been making curries using no actual herbs and spices.


I got into the habit of using curry pastes and just stuck with it. However, last weekend I made a basic curry from scratch using paprika, cumin, turmeric and coriander. It was epic to say the least and also a lot cheaper than a ready made sauce.

The one problem I think is that people no longer know how to use herbs and spices.  That is why I have decided to do a list of the top ten herbs and spices that you need in your kitchen.

1. Tamarind

Usually bought as a paste. Add just a dash to glazes, curries and barbeque sauce. Tamarind can also be used to make homemade cola.

2. Oregano

Buy it dried or fresh. Can be used in all Mediterranean dishes. Use for tomato sauces, fried vegetables and grilled meat. Also vital for Greek salads and kebabs. Oh and don’t forget to sprinkle oregano over your homemade pizza.

3. Sage

Buy it dried or fresh. Used in most Western cooking. It adds flavour to lamb, duck, chicken and sausages.  Sage is also used in Italian cooking. Fry some with butter and add to pasta. It is particularly good with fatty meats.

4.  Cinnamon

Buy as sticks or as a ground up spice. Add a sprinkle to your dough when baking sweet foods. Pop a cinnamon stick in your coffee and hot chocolate. Add cinnamon when making fruit pies.

5. Paprika

Buy as a dried spice. Use it to season and colour rice. Paprika is often used in Hungarian cuisine to spice up dishes such as goulash. In Spain paprika is often added to stews and sausages. It can also be added to curries, potato salads and to chicken marinades.

6. Turmeric

Buy it as a powdered spice. Sprinkle over popcorn or add to natural yoghurt as a side dip. You can also add turmeric to curries especially fish curries. It is also good in Moroccan dishes and should be sprinkled over meat and grilled vegetables.

7. Tarragon

Use as a dried herb or fresh. Tarragon is primarily used in French food. Use it in sauces for fish and poultry. It can also be used to flavour butter, omelette’s and salads.

8.  Thyme

Buy as a dried herb. Goes great with lamb, tomatoes and eggs. Use it for stuffing and in Bolognese sauce.

9. Dill

Best used fresh but can be used dried. Dill is best added to sauces and pastas at the end of cooking. Dill really tastes good with mustard and  can be added to sauces for fish.

10. Coriander

Use dried seeds and fresh leaves. Coriander is a vital ingredient in curries. It also goes great with game and with sausages. Try frying sausages with a few coriander seeds.

So there you have it, my top ten herbs and spices. Leave me a comment if you think that I’ve not picked the right ones or if you have more ideas on how to use them.

Bitter sweet symphony

15 10 2009

Tamarind-Tree_1761The tamarind tree. Native to Tropical Africa but also found in the Caribbean, India, the  Middle East and the islands of the Pacific. The secret ingredient of both cola and worcester sauce. The taste is bitter and not altogether pleasant but when put in combination with other ingredients it gives food a sparkle like no other.

Such a tall, dark and handsome tree also attracts superstition. It is said that an Indian will never sleep under its branches for fear of evil spirits and certain African tribes consider it sacred. To some Burmese, the tree is said to represent the dwelling place of the rain god.

The dwelling place of the rain god. What a magical thought.

I love tamarind most of all for its very contrariness. It is not easy. It requires refined taste buds and a liking for the exotic. On a hot day, a heaped tablespoon of fresh tamarind with chilled soda water is a refreshing break from the dreariness of all the over-processed, sugary drinks that we are all used to. On that note, here is a great recipe from The Independent for tamarind and ginger sorbet:

Serves 6

2-3in./5-7.5cm piece peeled fresh ginger

8oz /225g jaggery or dark muscovado sugar

4oz /100g tamarind paste

8 green cardamom pods, bruised to reveal the seeds

6fl oz/175ml single cream

4 tablespoons rum

Grate the ginger into a saucepan. Add the sugar, tamarind, cardamom and 1 pint/600ml water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes then set aside overnight or for at least 3 hours. Strain through a sieve, using a wooden spoon to press through most of the tamarind pulp. Whisk in the cream and rum. Freeze until firm in an ice-cream maker, or in a lidded plastic container when it may be necessary to beat the mixture several times as it freezes to break down ice crystals and produce a smooth sorbet.–tamarind-1572782.html