How is your lockdown life going? What do your days revolve around? Perhaps you’re working from home, taking the dog for a walk or learning that second language you always promised yourself you would study.
With the news being so constant, fast changing and often contradictory it’s good to take some time out. I seem to be spending a lot of time listening to Zoom lectures and podcasts (I can recommend The Sporkful (US/eating) and Waldy and Bendor’s Adventures in Art (UK/ art history) and writing with an online community called the London Writers Salon … check them out. Zooming in from around the world, they are a very supportive online group of poets, novelists, writers, students, editors and generally curious people.
Writers guild and going mute
As a member of the Guild of Food Writers I am also able to tap into the collective knowledge and support of hundreds of fellow scribblers.
Recent classes I have attended included taking better iPhone photographs, rescue hens and eggs, and outside the Guild listened to the food critic and columnist Jay Rayner gave a brilliant talk about writing inspiration for his work in The Guardian newspaper.
To finish off this latest week, we’re now in late March, I clicked on Mute and listened to Dina Begum, chef and author of the book ‘Brick Lane’ teach a group of us how to cook Shingaras.
The pastry is slightly flaky but soft and balances out the fillingDina Begum, author ‘Brick Lane’
Stuffed with spiced mashed potatoes in cones of simple pastry, Shingaras are a staple of Bangladeshi street food. They are generally savoury and packed with vegetarian fillings, particularly potato although chopped liver is also popular. The shingara’s I made were filled with mashed potato flavoured with spices including Panch Phoran, a mix of five magical spices. Either buy from your regular spice supplier or dry roast a teaspoon (seeds) each of whole cumin, black mustard, fennel, nigella and fenugreek. Other spices can be added to your tasted including black pepper corns, cinnamon sticks, clove and cardamom. Allow to cool down before giving them a fine grind. Store roasted seeds for up to six months in an airtight jar.
On first glance they seem simple to make, but like so many dishes there are a few techniques and methods that only experience and a good teacher can give you.
Shingaras are delicious pyramid shaped samosas and a popular street food across Bangladesh, says Dina. “Handmade pastry is filled with a lightly spiced potato mixture – semi-mashed with the aroma of green chillies, ginger and Bengali five spice. The pastry is slightly flaky but soft and balances out the filling.”
HOW TO MAKE For a great way to make samosas, check out Dina’s recipe for Chilli Cheese Samosas which was published in her book Brick Lane. Read the recipe HERE.
BUY the cookbook Brick Lane by Dina Begum HERE.
These are the dips I made for my first batch of Shingaras.
ONE Cream cheese (whipped up. It was in the fridge and needed eating) with finely chopped mint.
TWO ‘Roast Celeriac Dip with Za’atar, Almonds and Garlic Oil’ as seen in the pages of Harvest magazine (www.marmaladeandkindness.com) and created by food and garden writer Kathy Slack, and can also be found in her book ‘From the veg Patch’.
OTHER Try Shingaras as a cold picnic snack with with tamarind or mango chutneys or perhaps chilli pickles.