Eating phulkopi'r shingara is best described as a transcendental experience. Time stops still, and after you are done, everything else in life seems to hold little attraction. Now that you have been warned, let us talk about phulkopi'r shingara itself.
Phulkopi'r shingara, with cauliflower added to the potato filling, is made using seasonal cauliflower. In Bengal, cauliflower are in season in winter. This type of shingara is ubiquitous during this time of year, especially at sweet shops and chop stalls, where these spicy, hot, mildly sweet treats fly off the shelves if you don't get there first.
In this recipe, we have tried to recreate the flavour of these sweet-shop shingaras. We also tried our best to learn the folding technique deployed by the experts. The base of the shingara actually has a double fold, which not only adds to the layering and flakiness, but also forms a flat base on which shingaras can stand! This folding technique is quite difficult to get right, but we found help in YouTuber Selina Rehman's shingara video. Hers is the only resource we found on the internet that explains this technique in a way that is easy to follow. It can be used to fold samosas as well.
For the pastry
- 240 g maida (all-purpose flour)
- 5 g salt
- 12 g sugar
- 35 g ghee
- 80 g water
- 500 g potatoes
- 125 g cauliflower
- 25 g mustard oil
- 2 pcs dried red chillies
- ¾ tsp panch phoron
- 4 g green chillies
- 18 g ginger
- 30 g peanuts
- 6 g spice mix (recipe below)
- 6 g sugar
- 6 g salt
- 4 g beetnoon (black salt)
- ½ tsp kasuri methi
Spice mix (only 6 g needed)
- 4 g cumin powder
- 5 g coriander powder
- 4 g turmeric powder
- 3 g red chilli powder
- 2 g amchur powder (dried-mango powder)
- 2 g gorom moshla
- 6 g chaat masala
Kneading the dough
- In a mixing bowl, add maida, salt and sugar, and ghee. Distribute the ghee evenly until the mixture acquires a breadcrumb-like texture. This step is important for flaky pastry, so take your time.
- Add water. This is a tight dough, so it may seem dry at first, but resist the urge to add more water. The dough will hydrate further when rested. Also, don't over-knead, as we don't want too much gluten-formation, which will make the crust chewy.
- Just when all the loose crumbs have been incorporated, cover the dough and let it rest for 60 minutes.
Preparing the filling
- Soak potatoes in water and scrub them clean. This is because, in this recipe, we will be leaving the skin on for flavour and texture.
- Cut the potatoes into 1-cm cubes, and cauliflower into 1-cm florets. Roughly chop green chillies and ginger, and crush them in a mortar-pestle to a fine paste.
- Heat mustard oil in a kadai until it smokes gently and changes colour to a pale yellow. Fry the peanuts until golden. Set aside.
- Now add the cauliflower. Fry on medium-high heat until golden (~4 minutes). Lightly browning the cauliflower will bring out its flavours. Once brown, set aside.
- Temper the same oil with dried red chillies and panch phoron.
- Add potatoes, and fry them on medium heat until golden (4 minutes).
- Add ginger-and-green-chilli paste prepared earlier. Fry for 2 minutes before adding 6 g of the spice mix and kasuri methi.
- Keep cooking until the potatoes are nearly done. Add the fried cauliflower and peanuts. Also add in the sugar and black salt.
- Mix everything and continue cooking until the juices dry up. Let this filling cool completely before filling the shingaras.
Folding the shingaras
- Divide the dough in 60 g portions. Each portion will yield 2 shingaras.
- Roll each portion into an oval shape (about 28 × 16 cm) of 2 mm thickness.
- Cut the rolled-out oval along the shorter diameter, dividing the pastry into two semi-circles.
- Form a cone by joining the straight edges. Seal using water.
- With the seam resting on your thumb, fill the cone with about 50 g of the potato and cauliflower mixture. Remember not to overfill (it will be difficult to seal) or underfill (empty pockets will ruin the shape) the pastry.
- Apply water along the open mouth. First, bring the side opposite to the seam towards the seam. Then, bring the two conical ends towards each other, and press to seal. This should give you double-fold base, which will allow the shingaras to sit upright.
- Start the shingaras in lukewarm oil (~70°C). At this stage you should be able to dip your fingers in the oil without flinching.
- Fry on low to medium-low heat, such that the maximum oil temperature never crosses 120°C. You should see little bubbles in the oil, and not vigorous activity. If you fry at a higher temperature, the outside will brown while the inside remains doughy.
- Turn every 5 minutes until shingaras are evenly golden. Each batch should take around 30 minutes.
- Once golden, remove from the oil. Since the shingaras are scorching hot, let them rest for at least 15 minutes before taking a bite.