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The samosa is probably one of the most famous foods to emerge from the Indian sub-continent. For those of you who are familiar with this addictive little snack, I am sure you can agree that they really are out of this world. For those of you who are unfamiliar -- samosas are basically delicious fried pastries available with a variety of savory fillings. Samosas are a very popular street food or snack eaten commonly throughout India & nowadays, popular globally as well.
Samosas can be labor intensive if made from scratch although they are totally worth the extra little effort. However, there are some wonderful shortcuts available – feel free to use either ready made puff pastry, phyllo pastry, egg roll wrappers or spring roll wrappers. They will make your life much simpler & you can easily whip up a nice batch of samosas in a pinch.
Traditionally, samosas are fried but they can also be baked. I recommend using phyllo dough, egg roll wrappers or spring roll wrappers when making the fried version & puff pastry for the baked version. Keep a slightly damp tea towel nearby to cover the dough/wrappers while you are working so they don’t dry out. Also, making the filling the day before is a huge timesaver.
Samosas can be both vegetarian & non-vegetarian in nature. The most common vegetarian samosa is filled with a spicy potato & peas mixture, but you can really use whatever you wish. Other vegetarian options include paneer & spinach, paneer & peas, spicy lentils, mixed vegetables…. anything goes really. The non-veg samosas are traditionally made with a spicy ground lamb filling but again, you could use ground turkey or chicken if you prefer. The possibilities & varieties are endless, so feel free to use your favorite ingredients. I highly recommend that you read the recipe in its entirety beforehand since I have provided many possible options.
SAMOSAS (Savory Indian Pastries)
1 package egg roll wrappers or spring roll wrappers or phyllo pastry or puff pastry (thawed if frozen)
oil for frying
For Traditional Samosa Pastry:
2 cups all purpose flour (maida)
2 tbsp rice flour
1 tsp salt, to taste
˝ tsp ajwain (carom seeds), optional
2 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
water as needed
METHOD: for traditional samosas
In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the flour with the salt & carom seeds. Make a well in the center & add the oil. Mix to form a crumbly mixture, now slowly add enough water to form a soft dough that comes together easily. Knead the dough into a smooth ball, return back to the bowl & cover with plastic wrap or a moist tea towel for 30-45 minutes at room temperature.
*While the dough is resting, you can make the samosa fillings (see links below).
After the dough has sufficiently rested, knead the dough for a few more minutes and then make into small balls (about 10-12). Roll each ball out into a round circle about 5-6 inches in diameter. The rolled out dough should not be too thick or too thin. Using a sharp knife, cut the rolled out circle into half. Now traditional samosas are pyramidal in shape & this definitely takes a little practice. Keep a small bowl of water readily available. Simply using just a little water, lightly moisten the straight edge of each half circle & bring the corners together. Lightly press the edges to seal, you can use a fork to form a decorative edge or crimp the seal. You should now have a cone shape that opens up. Now carefully add 2 tbsp or so of the filling into the cone & lightly pressed the edges together to form a seal. Do not overfill the samosa. This sealed edge may also be crimped with a fork. Use the same technique with the remaining balls of dough. Make sure your edges are thoroughly sealed & keep the filled samosas under a damp tea towel so they wont dry out.
METHOD: for egg roll/spring roll wrappers (use the large size, about 6-8” square in size)
The technique here differs slightly due to the shape of the square wrapper. You could follow the process as directed below or simply take a round bowl – place it on the wrapper and using a sharp knife, just trace it around the outer rim of the bowl. Obviously, the size of the bowl should be slightly smaller than the wrappers themselves. Basically, you are just cutting off the corners and making a round circle out of a square egg roll/spring roll wrapper. Follow the traditional method indicated above as directed.
The easiest way to use egg roll/spring roll wrappers is to cut each square wrapper in half using a nice sharp knife. Place the rectangular halves directly in front of you. Now add 1 tbsp or so of the filling near the bottom right corner of each half, then take that bottom right corner and fold it over to the edge forming a triangle. Do not overfill the samosa. Continue to fold the triangle to alternate corners (like folding a flag) until you reach the final edge. Moisten the last edge with a little water and seal the edge. This sealed edge may also be crimped with a fork. Use the same technique with the remaining wrappers. Make sure your edges are thoroughly sealed & keep the filled samosas under a damp tea towel so they wont dry out.
METHOD: for phyllo or filo pastry (thaw if frozen)
Let the phyllo pastry come to room temperature (about 20-30 minutes), it will be much easier to work with. The easiest way to work with phyllo pastry is to keep it in layers of 4-6 sheets (they usually come this way anyway). Phyllo pastry sheets are paper thin & very delicate. Also, keep the unused sheets of phyllo pastry covered with a damp tea towel – they tend to dry out rather quickly. Now cut the layered pastry sheets into “2” wide strips. Now add 1 tbsp or so of the filling near the bottom right corner of each half, now take that bottom right corner and fold it over to the edge forming a triangle. Do not overfill the samosa. Continue to fold the triangle to alternate corners (like folding a flag) until you reach the final edge. Moisten the last edge with a little water and seal the edge. This sealed edge may also be crimped with a fork. Use the same technique with the remaining phyllo pastry sheets. Make sure your edges are thoroughly sealed & keep the filled samosas under a damp tea towel so they wont dry out.
METHOD: for puff pastry (thaw if frozen)
Puff pastry works well for baked samosas, in addition, puff pastry is easy to work with & a healthy option as well. Now with a rolling pin, lightly roll out the puff pastry. Then take a nice round bowl – place it on the puff pastry and using a sharp knife, just trace it around the outer rim of the bowl. The bowl should be about 5-6” in diameter. Follow the traditional method indicated above as directed.
OK, as far as the filling goes there are plenty of vegetarian & non vegetarian options available. Just one rule of thumb: make sure your filling is “dry” in the sense that you don’t want a curry or gravy based filling – so basically, very little to no liquid in the filling. Also, make sure your filling has cooled completely before use. The filling can be made in advance or even the day before.
Potatoes & Peas Filling: BATATA CHI BHAJI RECIPE (coming soon!)
Spinach & Paneer Filling: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art23395.asp
Spicy Ground Chicken Filling: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art50964.asp
Lentil/Dal Filling: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art23157.asp
Since the fillings are already cooked, the recipe proceeds pretty quickly from this point on. If you are using traditional samosa dough, egg roll/spring roll wrappers or phyllo (filo) pastry & plan to fry your samosas – fill a large deep pan or wok on medium high heat with at least 3-4” of good quality frying oil. Personally, I use peanut oil but canola or vegetable oil works well too. When the oil is hot, carefully add the samosas, making sure not to overcrowd the pan (this may be done in batches). After 2-3 minutes, flip them and reduce the heat to medium. Fry them for another 2-3 minutes; they should have a lovely golden brown color. Drain well on paper towels and serve hot with your favorite sauces and chutneys.
If you wish to bake the samosas: preheat the oven to 400 deg F. Brush the samosas with just a little bit of oil & bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Serve hot with your favorite sauces & chutneys.
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