trust me

fresh pea and sprouted chickpea samosas

My brother has been responsible for some of my favourite food memories. He has an uncanny knack of leading me into unexpected situations that require another folder be added to the archive of all things delicious. But before the romance of this notion has us sounding like the Brady Bunch, I should say that our latest sibling food moment was in a food court. Yeah. My brother has taken me to some seriously dodgy places under the pretence of ‘trust me’. Thing is, regardless of how uninspiring the surrounds may be, he comes up with the flavour goods time and again.

So the food court is smack bang in the middle of Bangkok; 9 floors up into the clouds of smog, atop a department store full of more stuff than any one person could possibly need in a lifetime. You know the deal.

The scene initially played out like so many others, with my brother telling me to trust him and me whinging about why we couldn’t eat mango on the street under the tree near our restaurant. In this case the whinging continued on the train, through the rotating doors of the department store, through the perfume section and all the way up the escalators to the cashier who issued us with a card to be scanned each time we ordered something. My brother smiled and disappeared into the abyss of shoppers all looking for their favourite thing for lunch. I sighed like a spoilt brat at my ‘scan card’ and started to bumble my way into the crowd. And there they were, 2 super smiley faces behind a wall of samosas and a veritable cauldron of chai. It was probably only 3 minutes of chatting to these guys as they made fresh samosas and poured me a huge pot of chai, and I walked back to my brother with lunch and a completely different attitude.

Samosas and chai – so good. A sip of tea and a nibble of spicy samosa, and so it went for the next few minutes. My brother didn’t say a word other than, ‘You cool now? Shall we go?’ I think I talked about how the heat of the tea perfectly amplified the spice in the samosas, and how incredible the pastry was, and how I would never again eat samosas without drinking chai at the same time, all the way home. Another favourite food memory firmly logged in the archive. I just need to figure out how to remember the ‘trust me‘ part when my brother says he knows a good place for lunch.

These samosas are just one of perhaps a million versions, but they worked to make the most of fresh Spring peas and sprouted chickpeas, and the last of the coriander in our garden. I used a ‘Spring masala’ from Maya Tiwari’s book too. And there’s no deep frying with these. While the samosas are cooking, make your favourite recipe for chai – a big pot of it so you don’t risk running out before the samosas are eaten. We ate and drank ours on the front verandah overlooking the lavender and watching the runner ducks hunting snails – and it took me right back to that food court! So romantic.

 

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Fresh Pea & Sprouted Chickpea Samosas

makes 10 samosas

 

For the pastry:

 

1 cup organic wholemeal spelt flour

2 tbsp organic virgin coconut oil

1/2 tsp Himalayan salt

A little water

 

For the filling:

 

1 organic potato, boiled and mashed 

1/2 cup organic peas, shelled

1/2 cup sprouted organic chickpeas (or use cooked chickpeas if you’d rather)

2 organic spring onions

1 cm slice of fresh organic ginger

3 tsp Spring Masala mix (below)

2 tsp tamarind puree

handful of fresh organic coriander leaves

1 tbsp organic virgin coconut oil

Himalayan salt to taste

 

For the Spring Masala:

 

1 tsp organic cumin seeds

2 tbsp organic coriander seeds

1 tbsp organic yellow mustard seeds

1 tsp black peppercorns

1 tsp organic cardamom

 

 

To make the masala, dry roast the spices until they are fragrant and then grind to a fine powder with a mortar and pestle.

 

To make the pastry, put all the ingredients into a food processor and add enough water to pull the dough together into a ball.

 

For the filling, put everything except the potato, peas and chickpeas into a food processor and blend until smooth. Then combine the paste with the remaining ingredients and eat some along the way as you prepare the samosas. I did this, so imagined you would too, and have allowed for extra filling so no one is caught out!

 

Pre heat the oven to 180C.

 

To assemble the samosas, divide the pastry into 5 equal balls and roll out to a thin disc. Cut each disc in half to create 10 crescent shapes. Place a couple of tablespoons, or so, of filling in the centre of each crescent of dough and then wrap up by pulling the sides over the filling and sealing them at the base of the samosa. You can just press the dough together with your fingers, no need for water.

 

Place the samosas onto a baking paper lined, or flour dusted, tray and cook for 15 minutes on one side, then turn each samosa over and cook for a further 15 minutes to brown the other sides.

 

Serve with copious amounts of chai. Nibble and sip.

 

You’ll have more Spring Masala than you need so use it in other curries or sprinkled over roasted veggies. So good. And if you’d like to sprout chickpeas, just soak them for a day first and then pop into a sprouting bag. We’ve been using a hemp fabric bag which means you can just dunk the whole bag in water and then leave to drain by tying the bag to a tap over the sink. Dunk it each day for 3-4 days and you’ll have lovely little tails on your chickpeas.

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farm culture

Japanese Water Kefir

There’s a fair bit of life out here on the hill with us. Lots of things that need our daily attention and feeding. And it got just that little bit livelier today. 5 little chicks hatched out and came chirping through the succulent garden with their Mumma this morning. Adorable little critters. Then 3 (and another in progress) ducklings hatched out too. All this new life happening on the 2 minute walk from the house to give Mr Windsor his breakfast of pumpkin and carrots. So cool. On any given day it seems sharing our space with such a collection of brilliant souls is a permission-slip to wonderment. I can’t imagine ever tiring of it.

Then there’s the building obsession with the less furry or feathered kinds of life – cultures. We realised it had turned into a bit of ‘thing’ when we added up all the other growing members of the family. There’s the kombucha. And the sourdough. The sprouts. Mushrooms. Apple cider vinegar. And the Japanese water grains. If there’s something we’re missing please, please don’t tell me what it is. Some women like shoes I’m told.

The lovely thing about Japanese water grains, besides the delicious probiotic, naturally effervescent drink they produce, is that you can share them. In fact you’ll probably have to figure out who’s on your culture list before you even get yourself some grains. They multiply like baby chickens I tell you.

So here’s the recipe to make our version of this amazingly good for you little number, especially for all those people I handed little packages of grains to at the Farmer’s Market last week. Please let me know if you missed out, we’re bound to have spares in a minute or two.

 

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Japanese Water Kefir

makes 1 litre

 

1/2 cup water grains

50g organic rapadura sugar

1 organic lemon, quartered

3-4 organic cumquats, halved

2-3 organic cloves

1 stick organic cinnamon

2 organic cardamom, crushed slightly

1 organic dried fig, halved

1 slice organic ginger

1 litre filtered water

 

The fruit is all optional, bar the lemon, you really need lemon for it to taste great and have the bonus of an alkalising effect. Feel free to mix up the spices, take out the ginger or put lots in if you love it. Add dried apple or pear. Anything goes really, as long as you feed the grains with a sugar mixture to ferment, they’ll be happy. The fermentation results in less that a 1% alcohol rate too, so perfectly safe for little people and pregnant bellies.

To make the kefir, place your grains in the bottom of a 1 litre capacity glass jar (don’t use any other container because the kefir is quite reactive – glass is definitely the best) and add the dissolved sugar mixture. I find the rapadura dissolves in room temperature water but if you’d rather add hot water just make sure it has cooled to room temp before adding it to the grains. They don’t like being cooked!

Then pop in your choice of citrus and dried fruits, spices and fresh ginger.

Top with a square of muslin cloth held in place by a rubberband and leave the kefir to do its thing for 1-2 days. No need to stir in that time. When the sweetness has all but gone and you have a tangy, slightly bubbly drink, strain the fruit, spices and grains and bottle the liquid in the fridge for a day or two more before drinking. The longer you leave the kefir capped in the fridge, the bubblier it will be. Just remember not to leave it too much past 2 days before ‘burping’ the bottle to ensure you don’t have any fridge explosions.

You can use the fruit and grains for 2 batches of kefir, then refresh the fruit and spices and rinse the grains with filtered water. You can then give half away (or if you have chooks, they loooooove eating them and they get a probiotic fix too) or start 2 batches of kefir to meet your increased demand. It’s really yummy, you won’t have a problem getting through it. We drink it straight up, first thing in the morning before juice, or mixed into a green smoothie, or like this morning, poured over a fruit salad of loquats, grapefruit, passionfruit and fresh nutmeg. So good.

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