Imagine friends calling you up to say that they just lost their jobs. As much as you want to console them with the nicest things there are like "come, let's go for a good bak chor mee" or "drinks on me tonight", there's something damn intimidating about the whole situation. I guess millions of people out there feel the same way as more and more companies downsize to save what's left of the crumbling economy pie. There's nothing much that you can do really, but to persevere and well, seek options.
I chanced upon samsa while reading about streetfood in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Assuming"stan"ly, it should be pretty huge in Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan as well. Similar to the Indian samosa or the Portugese chamuça, this usually tetrahedral snack consists of a layer of pastry filled with a variety of ingredients including minced mutton and potatoes. Not fried, a samsa is usually baked as it sticks to the side of a kiln, much like how naan is cooked. The dough has a glutinous texture (think bread) thanks to the addition of yeast. I have also read of doughs made of just flour and oil.
Not so much about the therapeutic effect of cooking and well, mostly of wanting to try out something new, I've decided to make some. And then, came the next question. What kind of feeling, I mean filling, should I use?
Here's what I did:
Double-boiled 7 slices of processed cheddar cheese. As the cheese melted, I heated the wok, added 5 tablespoons of oil, threw in 4 large onions (sliced) and stirred until softened. The thin strips of 150 grams of smoked back bacon and some sugar followed. Just as the edges browned, in came about RM1.50 of coarsely chopped spinach. I continued stirring until the spinach was sufficiently reduced before pouring in the molten cheese to be mixed with the onions/bacon/spinach combination. Freshly ground black pepper was added just before storage.
Next, I mixed 400 grams of plain flour, 1/2 tablespoon of dry instant yeast, 1/2 tablespoon of sugar/salt each, 1/2 cup of canola oil and 1/2 cup of water. Kneaded the dough for about 15 minutes and left it to rest (covered) for 10 minutes. Preferences of shapes and sizes are very personal I think and feeling rather self-indulging that day, I attempted the tetrahedrons. After glazing the skin with beaten egg, the samsas baked in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 25 minutes.
The bread was alright but still far from perfection, of course. Best eaten while still hot as the cheese is in its gooey state.
The samsa, to me, is one versatile snack that comes in many shapes and fillings. Sardine sambal, bacon rolls, herbed garlic butter, sun-dried tomatoes, char siew, I can go on and on.
As I share this thought I had while making the snack with you, I am also reminding myself that like samsa, life should be of versatility and flavours. Come good or bad times, keep trying new things for you may just find another flavour that satisfies you even more. Some filling of green fibres will do you good after the endless days of minced mutton.
Be positive and with a sprinkling of faith, you'll be on your way to a fluffier and more delicious samsa.