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A Star in the Frozen Food Aisle: Kitchens of India Crispy Samosas filled with Potatoes & Green Peas
I've tried a lot of Indian convenience foods lately and some of the best Indian food of this type has come from Kitchens of India. Of all their products, my favorite is their Samosas. Filled with steaming, spiced potatoes and green peas, the crust is the best part of Samosas. Crispiness in frozen foods is the food scientists’ Holy Grail. Many products engineered to have crunch or crispiness don't make a successful transition from freezer to microwave or toaster oven -- too much oil results in a greasy product, too much moisture leaves them soggy, too little and the product is crumbly (think Pop Tarts). Kitchens of India's Samosas have managed to pull it off. The coriander and chili spiced vegetable mix is a the wonderful treat inside a delightful package.
If you are unfamiliar with samosas, they are triangular, stuffed, deep-fried pastries. Samosa-like pastries are found over a wide range of Asia and Africa. Not surprisingly, the types of stuffing vary also. Kitchen's of India potato filled samosas are packed with a mixture of potato, green peas, coriander leaves (cilantro), ginger, chili and other spices - this filling is not unlike the dish Aloo Mutter. I experimented with a Punjabi-style curry version of this dish that was pleasing. If you're interested in recipes for Indian food, I've relied on 1000 Indian Recipes by Neelam Batra.
Oven or Toaster Oven Preparation
The samosas are easy to prepare. They are precooked, and don't require frying -- roughly 15 minutes in a 350° preheated oven should suffice. Unfortunately, the delicate and delicious crust loses its winning texture in microwave preparation, hence if you are looking for a quick workplace snack or lunch food, I can't recommend them. The time for preheating and heating and the need to use an oven eliminates their convenience. Most workplace kitchenettes lack toaster ovens or utensils to make them useable. They're still great at home.
Kitchens of India's does offer a number of shelf-stable meals and side-dishes that are suitable to microwaving. My experience only extends to their Palak Paneer (an Indian cheese much like cottage cheese cooked in a seasoned spinach puree) and Pindi Chana (a chickpea curry). Both good and easy to prepare with only a microwave.
A Fair Trade: A Reasonable Price for a Complex Product
Treats like these are deceptively time-consuming to make from scratch at home. Preparation includes:
1. Prepare a spice mixture
2. Heat the oil and fry onions
3. Allow the spice flavorings to become infused in the oil
4. Precook the potatoes and peas
5. Prepare the crust/dough and wrap the filling into individual samosas
6. Fry the samosas.
As a cook and a generally frugal person, I tend to avoid convenience foods, especially frozen foods. As I've written elsewhere, when I do indulge, I like to try the increasingly wider selection of ethnic foods. They typically command premium prices, but here the convenience of a high-quality product outweighs the price. Kitchens of India products fall into the semi-premium category. Despite an extensive cookbook library, training and kitchen supplies, I have to admit, I have had more than a few frozen dinners and snacks. Kitchens of India’s Crispy Samosas haven’t helped.
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