with the extremes of temperature, one usually either eats more food or less. it's no big surprise that winter is the time for heartier foods and slowing down. invariably, i end up consuming massive amounts of potatoes in the winter. of course, it's something i know i shouldn't be doing as the more of those starchy suckers you eat, the more you can look forward to in weight gain. it's a good thing i have some measure of self-control in the gluttony department :) well, if i'm going to ruin my diet, i may as well do it properly. that means wrapping those potatoes in a pastry crust and deep frying them.
samosas need no introduction — these spicy triangular indian snacks are up there with other similar oil fried appetizer incarnations like vietnamese spring (imperial) rolls and chinese egg rolls. samosas are typically filled with either meat stuffings or vegetarian ones , the most popular and ubiquitous being that of a mixture of spicy potatoes and green garden peas.
the following recipe is simple to make and extremely rewarding. like many recipes which are labour intensive, preparing things ahead of time is a big help. i usually make the filling and pastry the night before and then throw everything together the next day instead of doing it all at once. it feels less overwhelming and seems to go much faster. in reality, all can be done the same day if you prefer.
notes before embarking on making samosas - there are many dough variations and stuffing mixtures. i quite like this one i tried from a cookbook years ago (whose name i can no longer remember). this is actually one of the best ones i've tried over the years. as taste is a highly individual thing, you may have a different opinion. i don't, however, think you'll be disappointed after trying it.
use the correct amount of potatoes stated in the recipe. if you use more than called for, it alters the balance of the spicing and gives more stuffing than is needed, in addition to making it blander.
the dough used here is almost exactly the same as a classic bureka dough — flour, oil, salt and water. the difference is that is that samosas are deep fried whereas burekas are baked.
you'll notice that the dough will have a pocked appearance once it rests; this is normal and perfectly fine. the dough will also be oily. this is essential as the dough is rolled out without using flour; it helps in shaping the dough rounds and gives the final flaky texture.
two important things about making the dough: the oil is worked into the flour with the hands to coat all the flour — a typically indian technique. the samosa dough is rolled out as a whole (round) and then each round is cut in half to yield two. this is the standard way to form the pastry shells. don't overstuff the samosas.
this recipe, if made to the proportions below, yields exactly enough for each one when divided equally.
potato & green pea samosas
makes 8 large appetizer size samosas (can be doubled)
1 c all purpose flour
3 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
1/4 c + 1 tbsp warm water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 lb (~250 g) new potatoes (with edible skin) approx. 2 medium ones
1/2 c minced onion
2 - 3 tsp garlic-ginger paste (or equal amounts finely minced)
1/2 c frozen or fresh green peas
1/2 - 1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 - 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp salt or to taste
1 - 2 tsp amchoor or 1 - 2 tbsp lemon juice
3 - 4 tbsp chopped coriander
make the dough —
place the flour, salt and oil in a bowl and rub the two together until well incorporated. do this for about 2 or 3 minutes. there should be no clumps.
add the 1/4 c of warm water and with your hands mix to make a dough. add the extra 1 tbsp if needed. the dough will be fairly firm.
knead the dough for a minute or so. place the dough in the fridge for an hour (while you make the filling). note that the dough can be kept a day or two in the fridge and brought to room temperature and rolled out with excellent results.
make the filling —
wash the potatoes and remove any eyes or blemishes. i always use new potatoes which i don't have to peel. if you want you can peel them but they have a higher nutritional value with the skin on.
slice the potatoes lengthwise into 1/4 inch or slightly larger slabs.
stack half of the potato and cut into 1/4 inch cubes. make lengthwise cuts almost to the end and then cross cut to form cubes. place the cubes in a bowl of water to prevent oxidization (browning).
if using garlic and ginger, take one large or two small cloves of garlic and mince them. if using whole ginger, remove the dark skin and mince a 1/2 inch piece. otherwise, use garlic-ginger paste or just ginger paste.
cut an onion and dice it and measure out a 1/2 c.
measure out the cumin seeds.
do the same with the spices. measure out the lemon juice if using it instead of the mango powder.
in a wok or karai, heat 2 - 3 tbsp oil over medium heat and fry the cumin seeds until browned (NOT dark brown).
add the potatoes, onions and the ginger and garlic (paste).
stir to mix everything well and then cover the pan with a tight fitting lid.
lower the heat to medium low and let the mixture cook for 10 to 12 minutes. while that is cooking, chop the coriander.
remove the lid, and stir. add the spices, salt, peas and coriander. if using the lemon juice do NOT add it now.
mix all together and cover the pan and cook for another 8 minutes over medium low heat.
if using lemon juice, add it now and mix again. you can taste the mixture and adjust the salt, garam masala and amchoor, if wanted.
let the mixture cool and take out the dough from fridge while it cools.
form the samosas —
remove the dough from the fridge and let it come to room temperature (more or less).
divide into 4 equal portions (each portion yields two samosas). keep the other three covered while working with one portion.
over low heat, place enough oil in a wok or karai to deep fry. the oil will heat slowly as you stuff the samosas. you can turn up the heat to medium before you are ready to fry them.
divide the filling into 8 equal portions. do this now as it is easier when stuffing the pastries to have everything ready.
place a small dish of water near your to help seal the pastries.
on an UNFLOURED surface, place one of balls of dough and roll it out into a very thin circle. it should be about 7 or 8 inches (i never measure so i can't say for sure). be patient and keep rolling it may take a bit of practice. it is quite easy to do however. do not worry about getting a perfectly round circle.
with a knife, cut directly in half. this is important — make sure it is equal (though a little off center won't matter much).
wet the length edge with a dab of water along the line where you cut of one half of the dough. this is to seal the dough "cone".
bring one edge to the center as shown below and slightly press down to seal.
bring the other side over to far edge of the dough to shape the pastry triangle. press slightly to seal.
make sure the bottom (point) is completely closed.
pick up the triangle and keep it in one hand. open it up gently with the other hand making sure the bottom is completely closed (no hole at the pointed end).
place one portion of the filling in the cone and press down on it slightly to stuff it all in. the pastry should not break or be so thin as to break. if it does, you need to roll the dough slightly thicker.
wet the top edge of the pastry with your fingers.
press lower dough edge closest to you towards the back of the stuffing to enclose it. pull the top edge down over the enclosed filling and press on it to seal the triangle.
repeat the procedure with as many as you are making at the given time.
cooking the samosas —
turn up the heat to medium high and place the samosas in the oil. i only fry 4 at a time. it is always best to drop one in and see if it bubbles right away. if it doesn't, the oil is not high enough. quickly remove the samosa if the oil isn't ready and wait until hot enough.
fry about 4 minutes per side or until golden brown.
remove to paper towel and let drain and cool a bit.
serve with tamarind chutney or coriander (mint) chutney. sprinkle with chaat masala if wanted.