I love it when friends bring edible gifts, especially ones they have been handmade or grown. The other day I was given this gorgeous blue looking squash that my pal had grown in her vegetable patch in the Cotswolds. We are not too sure what it is exactly but our guess is pointing us towards pumpkin invincible (we liked the name anyway). It looked beautiful, so I let it sit around in the kitchen for over a week for us all to admire. Part of me wanted to spray it silver or gold and have it sitting by the fireplace over the christmas season, but then again I knew it would be delicious as a lot of care and love had gone into growing it, it would be a shame not to eat it such a gorgeous gift.
I broke into it yesterday – it definitely won top prize on ‘hardest squash to break into’. It’s flesh was bright orange with seeds slightly puffier than your regular pumpkins. I removed the skin from a quarter of it and then diced it up small. The rest I covered and placed in the fridge to use on another occasion.
A lovely idea would be to incorporate the squash into some gnocchi itself – you could use my recipe for gnocchi here or incorporate it with some store bought gnocchi here.
My plan was to use the filling for some spiced baked squash and potato samosas. I was going on to Wandsworth radio later in the day to talk to presenter, Emma Gordon aka Mrs Stylist, about the charity ‘Find Your Feet’ and their ‘Curry For Change’ campaign and hosting your own supper parties to help the charity. In addition the plan was to talk about alternative christmas snacks, so thought the samosas and my Indian tomato chutney were perfect for the occasion. You can hear the interview here if you fancy hearing me on the airwaves.
For those keen to get involved in the campaign they are really having a push next week (21st November). The charity is all about helping those who live in rural communities in northern India, Nepal, Malawi and Zimbabwe to help them ‘find their feet’ – rather than simply giving handouts, through acquiring training and skills that can break the cycle of poverty by setting up their own business to allow them to feed themselves and their families. The idea is that we host supper parties. Natco and Kingfisher beer sponsor the whole campaign and will send those who sign up here a spice pack, which invariable includes lentils and other exciting goodies. Kingfisher will also send a crate of beer to drink at the event. You ask diners to pay what they would ordinarily spend on a curry take out and the money then goes to ‘Find Your Feet’. Natco then double the amount you raise. It’s a simple idea that is a win win for all involved. You don’t need to be a food blogger to take part. Everyone young and old can give it a whirl – even my mother has expressed an interest to take part. The curry for change website also has lots of inspiring recipes to help you plan your curry evening. You may even see one of two of mine listed on their site.
Back to the spiced squash samosas.
The good thing about these snacks is that they can be prepared and then frozen, pre cooking, and then when you are ready to bake them you simply place them in the oven for 20 minutes from frozen. So simple. I often like to prepare a chutney to go along with a street food snacks, such as samosas. You can see my recipe for Indian spiced tomato chutney here. It is very quick to prepare and stores in the fridge for a couple of days.
Folding the samosas is easier than you think. Place the filling in the bottom right hand corner and then fold the pastry over so that a triangle forms. Then you fold the pastry up along the line before folding over to the left hand side, continuing with the triangle theme. Just keep in mind that you need to keep folding in alternative triangles and using water or ghee to stick the sides together. There are more photos showing how it is done on my post about ‘beetroot, feta and cumin samosas’ – see here. I like to sprinkle the samosas with nigella seeds, also known as black onion seeds, equally you could sprinkle sesame seeds or even chilli flakes.
Baked Spiced Squash and Potato
700g squash/pumpkin of your choice, cut into small cubes
1 large potato (250g), cut into small cubes
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp nigella seeds
pinch of asafoetida/hing
1 onion, finely chopped
1 birds eye green chilli, finely sliced
1 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
100g frozen peas
2 packets of Jus Filo Sheets 270g each
2 tbsp melted ghee
- First place the cubed squash and potatoes in a pan with boiling water and let them soften, which will take around 10 minutes. If they are still a little hard, allow them to cook for a little longer. Strain and place to one side.
- In a separate wide pan add the oil and then add the mustard, cumin and nigella seeds followed by the asafoetida. Allow them to move around the pan for around 20 seconds before adding the onion.
- Allow the onion to soften for around 8 minutes, before adding the ginger paste and fresh chilli.
- Add the squash and potato and cover with the spices along with the cumin and turmeric powder.
- Using a fork or potato masher, gently squash the squash and potatoes. You don’t necessarily want it as smooth as mash, but certainly soften from it’s cubed form.
- Add the frozen peas and place a lid on the pan for a few minutes, adding a little water if it is becoming too dry. Take off the heat and leave to one side.
- Take the filo pastry out of its packet and using one sheet cut into in two horizontally. With the remaining filo pastry cover with a damp cloth.
- Working quickly you want to place a spoonful of the filling in the bottom right hand corner of the pastry (see photos). Place a little the melted ghee along the left hand edge of the pastry. Bring the bottom right hand corner of the pastry up to the right hand side at a diagonal to form a triangle (see photos above). Fold over from side to side until you reach the top. Stick the ends with melted ghee and either place on a plate to go into the freezer or one some greaseproof paper on a baking tray. Sprinkle with nigella or sesame seeds.
- Work your way through all the filling until it has all been used up. Freeze any left over filo pastry.
- If you are cooking immediately heat the oven to 180 degrees. Once the oven is hot place the samosas into the oven for 20 minutes – or until they are nicely bronzed.
- Eat when they are nice and hot with either a spiced tomato chutney or perhaps some tamarind and date chutney
If you host a curry for change dinner I would LOVE to hear about it. Take a photo and tag #chilliandmint and #curryforchange on twitter/instagram.