Like most of you (I hope), I have been cooking from Julie Sahni’s cookbooks for years. I learned to feel utterly confident that Ms. Sahni’s recipes really work and come close to what people from India know about good food. One weekend my husband’s office held a pot-luck at a colleague’s house. Feeling assured that the boss, who was Indian born and bred – married to a former Indian movie star who owned several restaurants in New Delhi – would not be attending, I chose to cook a coconut pilaf recipe from Ms. Sahni’s Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking, first published way back in 1985. Imagine my chagrin when I saw them walk through the door! How could I hide that rice before they took a serving spoon to it? (I’ve never been to India, after all, although I am dying to go some day.)
When I finally arrived back at the pot-luck, I saw that the boss and his wife had found my rice dish. Or should I say, Julie Sahni’s? They couldn’t believe that a non-Indian cooked like that.
To me, that told me that Ms. Sahni really knew her stuff.
I feel just as confident about her meat-filled samosas, which I make every once in a while, like maybe once a year, although the process isn’t all that onerous. Just find a copy of Classic Indian Cooking and turn to page 125 and follow the directions. Be sure to roll out the dough so thin that you could read a newspaper through it before you wrap it around the filling.
What do you want to bet that samosas are kin to empanadas, which are cousins to similar pastries (sanbusaks) originating in the Middle East or maybe Central Asia? You know, I recall eating sanbusaks in Honduras, made by Lebanese women there.
Ms. Sahni runs a cooking school these days. I am sure her students leave her classes feeling quite confident that they can handle a lot of the techniques required in Indian cooking.
© 2013 C. Bertelsen