I love samosa, but they’re one of those things – if you have an amazing local Indian shop that sells them hot and crispy for breakfast (can’t recommend Harguns in Caldmore highly enough!) and you can resist buying more than 2 at a time, then why make them yourself? I’ve dabbled before when I have enough people at my house to warrant making a whole batch, but the pastry is something that I can’t seem to get right. It’s crispy when it’s just out of the frying pan, but starts to go soggy straight away. They taste good, but ‘not quite right’. Stef makes them with samosa pastry/spring roll pastry which you can buy in frozen sheets from Indian/Asian shops and bakes them in the oven. They’re good too, but I’m a sucker for doing things in the traditional way!
I’ve tasted a good few samosa that have been home made and they all seem to be different – some crunchy inside from whole seeds, some rich and meaty, some have pastry flavoured with ajwain or onion seed, but not all of them don’t have the lovely crunchy pastry that comes from the ones that you can buy. The crunchy pastry seems to come from experience, from making them each and every day in large quantities. I’ve had crisp samosa in Sikh temples for breakfast, which again says that making lots of them gives you the experience you need.
I’ve been on a mission to find out the secrets to good samosa pastry for the past couple of months, I’ve spoken to people, read lots about the traditions of samosa and watched people making them and I think I’ve come up with a couple of top tips to make crunchy samosa! I made them last night and was really pleased with the result. We served ours with a Chana Dhal to dip in to.
The filling is really tasty and can be used to fill this pastry or if you want to use it with samosa/spring roll sheets, you can.
Potato & Pea Samosa (makes around 16)
4 large potatoes, boiled until tender, chopped into chunks
2 handfuls of frozen peas
2″/5cm ginger, grated
2-5 green chillies chopped finely (you can substitute 1/2 – 2tsp chilli powder)
1/2 tsp cumin seed, 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1 1/2 tsp amchoor, 3/4 tsp ground cumin, a good pinch of asafoetida (if you haven’t got all of these, miss out the ones you haven’t got) (buy any of these spices from our Ebay shop here)
Salt to taste (I used about 2tsp, but I like salty things!)
Fresh chopped coriander and a squeeze of lemon/lime juice to add just before filling the samosa
In a frying pan, heat a glug of flavourless oil. Add the cumin seed and when they start crackling, add the green chilli. Stir around for a minute before adding the ginger and rest of the spices. Stir for a few seconds and then add the potatoes. Stir with a large wooden spoon and if you like a more mashed potato texture in your samosa, crush the potatoes with the back of the spoon while mixing. Add the peas. Taste for salt and chilli. Add more of both if needed or add chilli powder. Set to one side to cool completely.
Put 4 cups plain flour and 1 1/2 tsp salt into a large shallow bowl and mix together. Add 1tblsp ghee (if you have any, if not, use flavourless oil) and 2tblsp oil and rub everything together. This is the important bit – even though you can’t really see the oil, you must make sure that it’s completely distributed through all of the grains of flour. The best way to do this is to scoop it up in your hands and rub your hands together.
Do this with all of the flour. You may need to add more oil into the flour, the way to find out if you already have enough is to squeeze a handful of the flour together and when you open your hand, the flour should stay clumped together in a ball. If it doesn’t, add another tblsp oil and repeat the rubbing in process.
If it does, crumble it back into the bowl and add water a little at a time until a tough, tight dough is formed. You don’t want it to be soft or sticky, so go carefully with the water – around 1/2 a cup should do it.
Knead for a couple of minutes and then put in a plastic bag to rest for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, knead for a few more minutes until the dough looks smooth. Rest for another 15 minutes. When the dough comes out of the bag, it should be quite springy when you prod it.
Bring out your cooled filling and add a squeeze of lemon juice and some fresh chopped coriander. Set next to where you’ll be rolling out. You’ll need a dessert spoon.
Divide the dough into 8 balls and place 7 in the plastic bag so they don’t dry out. Roll out the ball into about a 6″ (12cm) circle. Cut the circle in half. You want the dough not to be too thin, but mine was a little thick, so just a little thinner than mine in these pictures.
Take one half of the circle and using your finger, moisten all around the edges with a little water. Bring up both edges to the middle, overlapping slightly and press gently to seal (not so much that you make the inside stick together, though!). Pick the dough up and hold it in your hand like a cone. Fill the cone with a couple of tablespoons of filling and push it down with your finger.
You want to expel as much air from the filling as possible, otherwise it will balloon up when you fry. Make a little pleat opposite the join to allow for expansion and then pinch together sealing right up to where the filling ends. Sit the samosa down so that the sealed end is bent.
Carry on with the rest of the dough and filling until you have used it all up. Line them up on a tray.
The last secret to crispiness is to not have the oil in your pan too hot. This will cause the samosa to darken too quickly while the filling doesn’t heat up. You need to look for when you put the handle of a wooden spoon in the hot oil, little bubbles form around it, or a cube of bread goes golden brown after 60 seconds.
Gently slide 3 or 4 into the hot oil (depending on the size of your pan) and keep the heat on medium to high so that they’re cooking very gently. Turn them frequently.
Let them go as deep a golden brown as you dare before they take on a burnt colour. You want them deep golden, not brown. The longer you cook them, the crispier they will be.
Drain on kitchen paper and repeat with the rest of your uncooked samosa. Best served straight away, but you can heat them up in the oven if you leave them to cool.