Sunday, 20 March 2016

shingara - spicy potato filled bengali pastries

After a mini hiatus I’m back! I’m sure you’ve missed me as much as I’ve missed creating recipes for you. A lot has happened in the past few weeks. I got a new job. Yay! And I’ve been busy planning my Bengali afternoon tea pop up. Even though I haven’t posted anything I have been cooking and testing recipes. I've also discovered Spotify and have been creating playlists of Bengali music - which I must admit I know little of. Naturally someone has to eat the results of recipe creations. In fact I’ve been enjoying eating a bit too much, giving myself a free pass because I’m settling into my new job. So there’s been biscuit and cake eating at the office every single day. If you could see the unashamed enjoyment on my face though! And where are these recipes? Well here’s one!

If you’re Bengali you’ll know Shingaras. And if, for some reason you don’t then where have you been?! Shingaras are delicious handmade pastry cases flecked with fragrant nigella seeds that bring forth a burst of flavour as the shingaras fry. The filling is a lightly spiced potato mixture – semi-mashed with the aroma of green chillies, ginger and Bengali five spice mainly. The pastry is slightly flaky but soft and balances out the filling. Even though fried, shingaras are surprisingly not greasy. Not sure why. If  figure it out I‘ll let you know. 

Ingredients (makes 16)
225g plain flour
½ tsp salt
4 tbs oil
1 tbs nigella seeds
Approx 50ml of cold water

For the filling
2 medium baking potatoes, chopped into small cubes
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 square inch ginger crushed
1 heaped tsp salt – or to taste                        
2 green chillies, chopped
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 level tbs Bengali five spice (panch phoron)
50ml water
2 tbs oil
Oil for frying

In a bowl add the flour, salt and oil and crumble with your fingers to evenly incorporate the oil into the flour. After about a minute add nigella seeds and enough cold water to form a soft but firm dough. Add water a little at a time. You can always add more if needed. Form a round and cover with a cloth or clingfim and let the dough rest for 30 mins.

Meanwhile make the potato filling by adding 2 tbs of oil into a wok or frying pan. Once the oil is heated add the Bengali five spice and once you hear the popping of the spices add the chopped onion and ginger. Stir in salt and green chillies and sautee on medium heat for about 1 min.

Add the dry spices and cook for a further minute – until the onion has softened a little. Add the potato cubes and mix well to coat the potato in the spices. Add 50ml of water and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low, cover with a lid and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the potato has softened and can be easily broken.

After 10-12minutes check that the potato is cooked and the liquid has dried out. Mash the mixture just slightly so that there are some whole pieces of potato and some slightly mashed. Place the mixture on a deep plate and cool completely. To quicken this process spread the mixture thinly.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead well for at least 5 mins so that the dough relaxes.

Divide the dough into 16 equal portions and roll out each piece into an oval shape about 5 inches in length and 3.5 inches in diameter. Cut the oval widthways across the middle.

Lightly dab water along the edge of the cut edge and holding the pastry in your hand make a cone shape by sealing up the moistened two edges together – with the rounded side falling out like an upside down peak of a baseball cap.

With the edges sealed fill with about 1 heaped tsp of mixture and dab the remaining cut edges with water (not the peak) and bring the peak over the top and press into the moistened edge so that you form a pyramid shape.

If you’re feeling confident you can give the seam a decorative pattern, just as you would a pie crust!

Repeat steps for the next 15.

Heat enough oil to deep fry in a pan and once hot lower the heat to low-medium. Cook the shingaras in 2 or 3 batches, turning gently for even colour. 

They take about 4 minutes to cook. When golden brown drain onto kitchen paper.

Serve as is, or with my Bengali tomato chutney!

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