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Recipe to Riches review: Manju’s Vegetable Samosas

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This week’s winner of Channel Ten’s Recipe to Riches in the “world foods” category (whichever that is) was Manju’s Authentic Vegetable Samosas┬áby Manju Jehu, an interpreter and Hindu radio host from Queensland. Her competition was a stir-fry XO sauce and chimichurri, neither of which looked like they deserved to get past the “bulk cooking” stage.

My expectations of this product were high, especially since judge Carolyn Creswell declared during the “audition” phase that these samosas were better than anything that she’d eaten in India, a comment that seemed very far-fetched and for me stretches the credibility of the whole show. Oh well, let’s see…

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There are eight samosas in the box, and the instructions are to simply place on an oven tray and bake at 200C for 15 minutes. It’s usually said that commercial products need to be consistently sized, however the slight variation here actually made me believe that these might be hand made (whether they are or not, I have no idea). I cooked them according to the instructions, although they didn’t go as brown as I was expecting so I left them in the oven for around five minutes longer.

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At this point, I found myself in the unusual position of having no sweet chilli sauce or mango chutney in the house, so rather than descend into blind panic I grabbed my bottle of the previous week’s Recipe to Riches winner – Hickory Hollow smoked chilli & garlic sauce – from the cupboard.

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So here’s the finished product – still not as brown as I was expecting. The apparent dryness of the pastry was an immediate visual disappointment, and unfortunately they tasted as dry as they looked. I thought about drizzling them with oil before cooking, but followed the instructions for the purpose of this review.

I would normally associate this texture of pastry with a curry puff rather than a samosa – maybe my classification is wrong – although I wouldn’t want to eat anything that dry. I really wish I’d had some mango or tamarind chutney to add some sweetness and moisture. The chilli & garlic smoked sauce doesn’t do it for me at all, I’m really not sure where I’d use it – certainly not on its own. It has a bitter taste that I just don’t like.

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I actually found the vegetarian filling (mainly potato, onion & peas) to be really nice, and definitely comparable to samosas / curry puffs I’ve bought from Indian restaurants – well cooked and nicely spiced. It was interesting that the individual spices were clearly visible inside the samosa, which is not what I would expect from a frozen supermarket product.

The only real disappointment here was the pastry, which was chewy rather than crispy and sadly detracted from the flavoursome filling. I think I’d have overcome this if I’d had some chutney or sweet chilli sauce on hand, and if you do find yourself with some of these then something to dip them in is definitely non-negotiable.

Next week: desserts!