With all this talk about Indian food and a potluck approaching on Saturday night, it’s needless to say that food was on my mind this weekend. Wait, what am I saying? When is food not on my mind? Seriously, I’m beginning to think I’m suffering from an actual condition, like a food-based OCD or culinary psychosis. Eeeh, I can think of much worse things to obsess over. Once, I had this friend in elementary school who was a Barbizon graduate, and she thought it would be a great idea to take a razor to my eyebrows instead of tweezers. Needless to say, one false move left me with a rather amusing right eyebrow for the next six months, which I obsessed over until it grew back. Off subject? TMI? Yes and yes. Moving on…
Having just read Thy Tran’s inspiring, informative article on Chinese dumplings in my latest Fine Cooking, I felt amateurishly-versed in the subject of jiao zi and ready to take it head on. I’d been mulling over the idea of making potstickers for a few days, but just hadn’t found the time yet. So I had three themes going at once: Indian-inspired, potluck-friendly and Chinese dumplings. Surely – surely, I could make this work, right?
I started by listing ingredients that are often found in Indian cuisine – potatoes, chickpeas, ginger, garlic, among other things. To that, I wanted to incorporate a ground meat to create a filling for my dumplings. I chose ground turkey, but any lean ground meat would suffice – chicken, pork – heck, you could go all out and use diced shrimp, or even lamb!
In order to give my dumplings the right consistency, I opted to cook my vegetables first, and incorporate the raw meat second. That way, 1) the vegetables are cooked to a soft, palatable consistency and 2) the meat is cooked off at the last minute, while the dumplings are steaming and frying. Granted, this makes for one odd-looking filling – after I mixed the cooked vegetables with the raw meat, Hubby ambled into the kitchen. “Ooh, what’s THIS?”, he said, as he took a spoonful to his mouth. “Nooo!”, I cried, as I swiped the spoon from his hand, “Lordy, Hubby, that’s RAW!” He gave me a look that read shock, revulsion and relief simultaneously – good thing I’m always there to supervise…
Mind you, assembling dumplings is no quick and easy process. No worries, though – pour yourself a glass of your favorite libation, turn on some tunes and zone out while folding your dumplings – you’ll find it’s actually quite methodic and relaxing! Or maybe that’s just me… A good tutorial in dumpling wrapping can be found here. Everyone seems to have their own tried-and-true technique, but I found the video to be especially helpful. If you find one you like better, please share!
Of course, no potsticker is complete without a dipping sauce. In keeping with my Indian theme, I chose ingredients that would complement the flavors of the filling and cut the heat and intensity of the spices. I mixed equal parts plain yogurt (I used Greek strained yogurt, but I’m sure any plain yogurt would do) with Major Grey’s mango chutney. The sauce was creamy, fruity, savory and definitely flavorful.
With a tray full of potstickers, we made our way on foot to the potluck Saturday night. The guests seemed intrigued by my addition to the table, and pleasantly surprised with the unexpected filling. If Indian isn’t your bag, feel free to play with filling ideas – Mexican, Italian, or something more exotic! As I always say, the possibilities are endless. Enjoy!
(makes about 90)
1 carrot, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
2 jalapeños, seeded and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1″ ginger, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 Tbs. tomato paste
½ c. heavy cream
3 tsp. garam masala
3 tsp. curry powder
1 lb. ground turkey/pork/chicken
2 packages of wonton wrappers
For the dipping sauce:
½ c. plain yogurt (preferably Greek or strained)
½ c. Major Grey’s chutney
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the carrot, onion, potato, jalapeños, and bell pepper and cook over medium heat with the lid on for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften. Add the ginger, garlic and chickpeas, and cook 2 minutes more.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garam masala and curry powder, cooking for about one minute until the vegetables and spices are very fragrant. Add the tomato paste and heavy cream, stirring to combine. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled vegetables with the ground meat, mixing with your hands to incorporate completely. Use approximately 1 tsp. of filling per wonton wrapper, and seal and fold each dumpling carefully. Store the finished dumplings under plastic wrap or a moistened paper towel until ready to cook.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add about 2 tsp. of oil. Place as many dumplings as will fit, flattened side down, into the pan, and fill with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Place the lid on the skillet and allow the dumplings to steam, about 7 or 8 minutes. When the water in the pan has mostly evaporated, take off the lid, allowing the steam to escape, and cook the dumplings about 5 minutes longer, until browned on the bottom. Remove from the heat and drain on newspaper or paper towels. Repeat the process until all of the dumplings are cooked. Serve hot.
*Note: this recipe makes a LOT of dumplings. Feel free to halve the recipe, use the leftover filling as burger patties, or add breadcrumbs or cornmeal for fritters!
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Laura Hobbs is a contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She was born and raised in Fayetteville. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and avid cook. For more of Laura’s contributions, visit her author page.