Wednesday, June 8, 2016

72. Samosa-Style Potato Rolled Tacos with Avocado-Yogurt Sauce, Queso Fresco, and Tamarind-Chile Salsa

Samosa-Style Potato Rolled Tacos with Avocado-Yogurt Sauce, Queso Fresco, and Tamarind-Chile Salsa

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With less than thirty recipes to go until I finish my taco project, it's getting more and more challenging to think of tacos that aren't too similar to those that I've already made!  From the beginning, I've wanted each one to be an original creation - something delicious and a little different, but still a recognizable taco.

Well, that's still what I want.  It's not impossible; it's just . . . yeah.  It is what it is.  Ha ha.  :)

Since Steve and I thoroughly enjoyed my first try at rolled tacos, I thought I'd revisit that process and try some different flavors this time around (of course).

I thought of doing potato rolled tacos.  But . . . how could I make them interesting?  All of a sudden, the answer occurred to me.  I've had a spicy, savory, carbolicious pastry wrapped potato creation that's kind of similar to a taco.

A samosa!  :)

I love Indian food.  I love Mexican food.  I love how some of the flavors overlap!  Cumin, cilantro, mint, chiles, and tamarind are equally at home in both cuisines.  I realized that this would be a perfect opportunity for a fusion taco!

I have to admit, I've already experienced a successful re-imagining of a samosa.  In Veganomicon, there is a recipe for Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes (basically twice baked potatoes) that I've always loved.  I'm sure the subconscious memory of that recipe helped trigger this idea!  I'm not (and never have been) a vegan, but this is a great cookbook:

The other book that I have to mention as an influence is my favorite Indian cookbook (and probably one of my top five cookbooks of any kind) - 660 Curries!  If you love Indian food, I can't recommend this cookbook highly enough!  I understand that the Kindle edition is coming out soon.  Anyway, check it out!

I didn't copy this recipe from either of these books, but I have to mention them because I know my experience with both of them helped me with the creative process!  :)

I thought about making homemade paneer for the cheese element, but then I remembered how much of a mess I created last time I made rolled tacos!  I figured Mexican queso fresco was close enough.  If you decide to make paneer to go with these tacos, I will be very impressed!  (660 Curries is a great reference for that, by the way.)

There's one slightly unusual ingredient that you might have trouble finding - the tamarind paste.  I've found it at Asian markets before, and I've also ordered it from Amazon.  I used a different brand when I made this recipe (because that's what I had on hand), but I've used this brand in the past and I'm sure either would be fine.

So, here we go!  Everything you need for a rolled taco, right?  Guac . . . I mean, avocado-yogurt sauce, cheese, and salsa!  (I don't know . . . I couldn't call it guacamole with the yogurt in it.  Yogurt guacamole?  No.)

Here's the recipe:

Samosa-Style Potato Rolled Tacos with Avocado-Yogurt Sauce, Queso Fresco, and Tamarind-Chile Salsa

Serves about 4 or 5 (about 15 tacos) 


For the tamarind-chile salsa:

2 dried guajillo chiles
2 Fresno chiles

Guajillo and Fresno Chiles for Tamarind-Chile Salsa for Samosa-Style Potato Rolled Tacos

1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp. white vinegar
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. tamarind paste

Tamarind Paste for Samosa-Style Potato Rolled Tacos with Avocado-Yogurt Sauce, Queso Fresco, and Tamarind-Chile Salsa

1/2 cup of the chile soaking liquid
3/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste

For the samosa-style potato mixture:

1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided

Russet Potatoes for Samosa-Style Potato Rolled Tacos with Avocado-Yogurt Sauce, Queso Fresco, and Tamarind-Chile Salsa

1 tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. brown mustard seeds (or yellow)
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
1 to 2 fresh serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed and drained
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 tbsp. chopped mint

For the avocado-yogurt sauce:

2 small avocados, pitted and mashed
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 tbsp. chopped mint
1 to 2 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste

A few ounces crumbled queso fresco

Queso Fresco for Samosa-Style Potato Rolled Tacos with Avocado-Yogurt Sauce and Tamarind-Chile Salsa

15 or 16 corn tortillas

Canola oil for frying



1. Soak the guajillo chiles:  Place the stemmed and seeded chiles in a 2-cup glass liquid measuring cup.  Cover the chiles with boiling water, weight them down with a small dish, and allow them to soak for about 30 minutes.

2. While the chiles are soaking, start the potato mixture:  Place the potatoes into a small saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and place them in a medium bowl.

Boiled Potatoes for Samosa-Style Potato Rolled Tacos with Avocado-Yogurt Sauce, Queso Fresco, and Tamarind-Chile Salsa

Add 1/2 tsp. of the salt and coarsely mash with a potato masher.  Allow to cool slightly.

3. Once the chiles are done soaking (and while the potatoes are simmering, perhaps), finish the salsa:  Remove and reserve the soaking liquid (leave the chiles in the measuring cup.  Add the Fresno chiles, onion, garlic, vinegar, sugar, tamarind paste, 1/2 cup of the reserved soaking liquid (save the rest), and the salt.

Tamarind-Chile Salsa for Samosa-Style Potato Rolled Tacos with Avocado-Yogurt Sauce, and Queso Fresco

Blend with a hand blender until the salsa is smooth.  (Alternately, you can use a regular blender.)  Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.  Cover and set aside.

4. Cook the vegetables and spices for the potato filling:  Heat the canola oil over medium-low heat.  Add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds and let them sizzle for about 30 seconds.  Add the coriander, turmeric, onion, and another 1/2 tsp. of the salt.  Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened, about 5 or 6 minutes.  Add the garlic, ginger, and serrano pepper and cook for an additional minute or so.  Add the carrot and continue to cook and stir until it is tender but still al dente.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

5. While the filling is cooling, make the avocado-yogurt sauce:  Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and lightly mash together until well-combined.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Set aside.

Avocado-Yogurt Sauce for Samosa-Style Potato Rolled Tacos with Queso Fresco and Tamarind-Chile Salsa

6.  Finish the filling:  Add the cooled vegetable mixture to the potatoes.  Add the peas, cilantro, mint, and one more 1/2 tsp. of salt.  Stir everything together until it is well-combined.  If the mixture seems too dry, you can add a bit of the leftover chile soaking liquid.  (Note:  If I had it to do over again, I would do this.  The mixture needs to bind together slightly so you don't have little bits falling out while you're trying to fry the tacos!)

Samosa-Style Potato Filling for Potato Rolled Tacos with Avocado-Yogurt Sauce, Queso Fresco, and Tamarind-Chile Salsa

Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.  Set aside.

7.  Prepare the tortillas:  Heat a dry cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Place a large sheet of aluminum foil near the pan.  Heat each tortilla in the skillet for about a minute or so on each side, or until it softens and begins to brown.  After each one is done, place it on the foil and immediately start the next one.  Stack them on top of one another as you work.  When the whole batch is done, wrap them completely in the foil.  (Note:  If your tortillas are very soft and pliable, you may be able to skip this step.  I did it to avoid breaking them during the rolling process.)

8. Assemble and fry the tacos:  Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Fill a deep medium skillet with canola oil until a depth of about 1 1/2 inches is reached.  Heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches about 360 degrees.  

While the oil is heating, roll the tacos.  Place a couple of tablespoons of the filling in the middle of one of the tortillas.  Roll it up as tightly as possible and secure with a toothpick.  Repeat this process until all of the tacos are rolled.

Samosa Style Potato Rolled Tacos with Avocado-Yogurt Sauce, Queso Fresco, and Tamarind-Chile Salsa - Before Frying

Fry the tacos, 2 or 3 at a time, for about 3 or 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown all over.  Remove from the hot oil with tongs and allow to drain on paper towels.  

Samosa Style Potato Rolled Tacos with Avocado-Yogurt Sauce, Queso Fresco, and Tamarind-Chile Salsa - Frying

When all of the tacos are cooked and drained, transfer to a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm.  

9.  When you are ready to serve the tacos, place three of them on a plate (for each serving).  Spoon some of the avocado-yogurt sauce on the side and sprinkle with the crumbled queso fresco to taste.  Garnish with the tamarind-chile salsa as desired (or include a small dish of it on the side, for dipping).  Enjoy!

Looks just like Nico's, right?  Or Filberto's, or Aliberto's, or one of those awesome Mexican fast food joints?  Well . . . it's NOT!  One bite, and you'll know it's something special.  Don't get me wrong, it's not that Nico's isn't special once in a while - it's just that where else will you get samosa rolled tacos?  Nowhere.  Unless you make these!  :)

We loved them!  The yogurt and mint gave the guac . . . I mean, avocado sauce an interesting freshness and a definite dairy slant that went well with the Indian flavors.  The salsa, while not super hot, was a tasty tangy/sweet/spicy combination that was just different enough to make us sit up and take notice.

Now for the bad news:  This makes a mess!  I had a lot of dirty dishes and pans to deal with.  I think that's just the price you pay for rolled tacos.  There are also a lot of overlapping steps.  I wouldn't say that this is a great recipe for beginners.  However, if you're confident in your abilities to juggle several recipe components at one time, you should be fine!

There are a couple of things I would do differently next time.  First of all, I think my tortillas were a bit on the small side.  They were hard to roll up as tightly as I wanted.  Last time, I used Trader Joe's brand corn tortillas, which were just a bit larger than the ones I used this time and those worked pretty well.  Next time, I'll make a point to use those.  If you have an option, I would go for larger and save yourself some frustration.

Also, I would definitely add just a bit of liquid to the potato mixture (and also mash my potatoes a bit more thoroughly).  You could use some of the chile soaking water, or broth, or milk, or water, or whatever.  My mixture was kind of crumbly.  The end result was delicious, but I did have peas and little bits of whatever falling out of the ends while I was trying to fry them.  That made me mad.  Ha ha.  Don't be mad; just make sure your mixture is a little more stuck together than mine was!  :)

They were worth it, though.  Look at these!  <3

Samosa Style Potato Rolled Tacos with Avocado-Yogurt Sauce, Queso Fresco, and Tamarind-Chile Salsa

One final topic of conversation:  food photography!  So . . . I take all these pictures with my phone, OK?  This is real life, people.  I make these recipes for dinner (most of the time), snap a few photos before the food gets cold, and then we eat!  No joke!  Ha ha.  I've been learning that this is probably not the best way to get awesome pictures of my tacos.

We have a rather nice camera sitting around that I have not bothered to learn how to use.  I'm going to try.  Better pictures will be coming soon.  I hope.  :)  Stay tuned!

Feel free to comment on this recipe!  Did you try them?  What did you think?  Is this weird or you also think that Mexican and Indian cuisines meet in the middle in a ton of ways?

Thanks for reading!

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