I don’t think I have been this excited about a reality show winner since … I don’t know … I don’t really watch much of them. I watched the last several seasons of The Next Food Network Star and was very pleased with Amy and Melissa’s wins, but I was not emotionally invested in them.
In all honesty, I have been a bit disappointed with my then-favorite cable channel for a while now. It’s like when MTV stopped showing music videos and started showing game shows and other, non music-related programs in the 90s, Food Network has been spiraling down the wrong direction, in my opinion, by showing food competitions and other stupid programs that have nothing to do with cooking. Granted, I still enjoy some non-traditional “cooking” shows like Throwdown with Bobby Flay (Flay is super hot), Iron Chef (gotta respect those talented chefs), and Good Eats (the best show ever, in my opinion) that are still very respectable, but any shows that make contestants cook under pressure like this and this are just silly. I rarely watch Food Network anymore.
Then came an adorable little sweetheart Aarti Sequeira to the rescue, and got me glued to the channel all over again! I was so excited when she won the title of The Next Food Network Star, and although I haven’t really tried cooking Indian food in the past, I know that I would tune in to her show every week going forward to learn a new trick or two. I love, love, love Aarti already and I know that she will be fantastic in her new endeavors! I cannot wait to watch her pilot this Sunday!
For all the other Aarti fans out there, you probably already know that she is the host of a weekly online cooking / variety show called, “Aarti Paarti,” which she shoots with her equally adorable husband in their tiny but charming kitchen in Los Angeles (Culver City, I think). It is so quirky and funny, you have to check it out. The Aarti you see here are more relaxed and easy-going, I think, than the person you see on TNFNS (nerves, perhaps), but they are both lovable and Aarti Paarti is a guarantee good time. I watched all the episodes in one sitting and even though it cut my precious sleep time significantly, it was all worth it.
I just hope that Food Network will keep her quirky, wacky, slightly-odd style and not try to squeeze her into a mainstream mold just to gain some rating. I was already a little bummed that it even changed the name of the show from “Aarti Paarti” to “Aarti Party” but we’ll just have to wait and see.
To celebrate her win, I decided to cook my first Indian dish from one of my favorite Aarti Paarti episodes / recipes: Baked Samosas! I am almost certain that this recipe will be featured on her new show.
I changed the recipes for the dough and the filling pretty significantly (especially the filling, which has no resenblence of her mango-cilantro goodness) based on what were available in my fridge but the results were heavenly. Here are the recipes that I used / modified. I improvised a lot and since I have no knowledge of an Indian cuisine, I hope I didn’t mess things up, or offended any Indian cooks out there by screwing with the authenticity!
(Click here for Aarti’s original recipe. I highly recommend that you try Aarti’s version instead of mine … 😆 ) This recipe makes 8 large samosas, with some leftover filling.
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup non-fat yogurt
1/4 olive oil
A pinch of salt
(Please note that his is completely different form Aarti’s original recipe)
2 medium-size potatoes, boiled
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/3 cups green peas, defrosted if using frozen
6 – 8 oz. chicken breast, poached and shredded
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon agave nectar
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 475 degree F. Put the flour, yogurt, olive oil and salt together in a bowl and mix well. Knead the dough for about five minutes. Let the dough sit for about 10 minutes.
1. Okay, here’s an embarrassing confession. Instead of the poached chicken, I used shredded chicken from a can! My mother gave it to me a few weeks ago because she wanted to make sure that I’m eating well (gotta love moms!). I didn’t think I would ever use it but when I realized that I had no more chicken breast left and I was too lazy to go buy one, I decided to crack open this baby up and give it a try. It wasn’t great but it was still edible. If you have the chance to use the “real” chicken, I recommend that you do!
2. Add potatoes, onion, shredded chicken, green peas, corn, and all the spices in a bowl and mix well.
3. Cut the dough in four.
4. Roll each dough in a round shape. You can change the size depending on the size of samosas you want but I liked mine big so I made a circle about 7 x 7 inches. Cut the dough in half.
5. Put the filling on one side. Bring the top edge to the middle of the dough.
6. Water the dough and bring the bottom edge to the top to close out the opening.
7. Pinch the opening and make sure that they are closed.
8. Close the openings around the dough by pressing it with a fork. Brush the pastry lightly with olive oil.
9. Put the samosas on a baking pan and bake in the 475 degree F oven for about 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 375 degree F and bake for another 10 minutes.
10. Enjoy them while they’re still hot! 🙂 Mmm … they were so delicious, I ate three for lunch this afternoon. This is my first Indian-inspired dish and absolutely loved it. The curry powder and cumin gave a very, distinct flavors! I will definitely try this, and many more of Aarti’s recipes soon!
Congratulations, Aarti! YIPPEEEEEE!