From Too Many Chefs -

March 3, 2005
Vegetable Samosas Are Easier To Make Than You Might Think

SAMOSAS.JPGI love samosas. When I lived in Chicago in a coachhouse with Barrett and his then-girlfriend and our two cats, they were my favorite fast food. There were two great cheap Indian restaurants down the road on Belmont near the el and you could buy one or two samosas hot to go and eat them in the street, while the cold Chicago wind brought tears to your eyes. Hot, spicy and just a little greasy, they were heaven to your icy hands and empty belly in those cold Chicago days.

These days, I am obliged to eat them sitting down in restaurants which is less of an adventure but I still love them. In fact, they have always fallen into the category of "I love these so much I don't want to risk making bad ones at home". But this weekend I decided to be brave and try my hand at my own home made samosas. And you know what? They were really easy. And good.

samosa 2.jpgPart of what has put me off making samosas is the only recipe I have in my cookbooks. The instructions for the pastry are clear enough, but when it comes to the filling the only indication is: "Make the stuffing with mashed potatoes, chopped green peas, chives and parsley, chopped mint, paprika, salt and a little lime juice or ground pomegranite seed." (Julian Barnes would hate this recipe!)

So although I based my recipe on the one found in Dharamjit Singh's Indian Cookery I feel perfectly justified in calling it my own. I added quite a few spices to the ones he listed, had to work out the proportions myself (which I did pretty well, aside from having twice as much filling as I needed) and I altered the pastry dough slightly too.

Meg's Delicious and Easy Vegetable Samosas (makes 12-14 samosas)

For the filling:
10 small potatoes
2/3 cup peas (I used frozen ones)
1 onion
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
5 cardamom pods
1 inch cube of ginger, finely chopped
2 small cloves of garlic
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 cup chopped mint
1-2 chopped hot green peppers, depending on how spicy you like your samosas
juice of half a lime
a little vegetable oil

For the pastry:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 container of plain yogurt (about 6 Tbs)
2 Tbs melted butter
1/2 tsp salt
a little water

For the stuffing:
Set the peas and the potatoes boiling in separate pots.

Break open the cardamom pods and remove the small black seeds inside. Toss the cardamom seeds, cumin seeds and mustard seeds into a dry frying pan and toss over a medium flame until they begin to sizzle and crackle and smell good. Remove them to a mortar and pestle and grind them. Put a little vegetable oil in the frying pan and add the chopped onion, garlic and ginger. When the onions are limp and it all smells nice, add the ground spices. If the potatoes are done, continue. Otherwise turn off the heat to wait until potatoes and peas are cooked.

Remove the poatoes from the pot, reserving some of the water. Cut them in small cubes (just under a centimeter/half inch in size) and add them to the pan with the onion and garlic. Drain the peas and add them too. Add the rest of the ingredients and give a generous helping of salt. Add a little of the potato water (about half a cup) and cook down the mixture to let the flavors mingle. Taste for salt; it will need more than you expect.

Set aside to cool a bit while you make the pastry.

For the pastry:
Mix the flour and salt and drizzle the melted butter over them. Add the yogurt and mix thoroughly. If the dough remains too dry to roll out, add a little water. If it's a little too moist, add a little more flour. Knead for five minutes until it is smooth and very elastic.

To construct the samosas:
Pull a piece of dough a little larger than a golf ball from the lump. Roll it in your hands to get an even ball shape. Flatten it with your palm and lay it on a floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it out to a circle slightly larger than a woman's hand, fingers spread out (about 20 cm/7-8"). Cut the circle in half. Dampen your finger with some water (I kept a small bowl of water handy) and trace it along the cut edge of the half circle. Fold over the dough and pinch together where you just moistened it. When you pick up the dough, you will now have a cone that you can fill with the stuffing. Be generous and try to push the stuffing into every corner. The dough is a lot more elastic than I expected and can take a certain amount of abuse. When you have filled the cone, dampen the edges of the top and pinch them together to close the dumpling. Try to squeeze out any air from the inside as you go. Repeat until you have used all the dough and stuffing.

To cook, fill a small sauce pan two thirds of the way with oil or heat up your deep fat fryer. (I gave mine away when we moved, having used it once in seven years!) If you are using oil in a sauce pan, make sure it is on a very stable burner and do not over fill; the volume of the samosa will bring up the oil level when it is added. To test if the oil is hot enough, toss a small pinch of dough in it. If bubbles form around it and it immediately starts browning, the oil is hot enough. Carefully lower the first samosa in the oil. When it has turned a nice golden brown (about 2-3 minutes) remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining samosas.

Serve these hot from the pan or (if you are entertaining) reheated in the oven with a variety of chutneys.

So, yes, these are time consuming to make and may not be the healthiest dish you'll ever try. But they are spicy and satisfying and well worth the time and effort. And although they take a while to make, they are fun and a lot easier than I expected. And so photogenic I had to take another picture...

more samosas.jpg

Posted by Meg in Sussex at March 3, 2005 6:24 AM | TrackBack

I've never heard of these, and now I'll be making some just because of this great post >8^)

Posted by Sherri on March 3, 2005 at 9:44 AM

Hey, thanks - that is quite possibly the nicest compliment I've ever received! Let me know how it turns out!

Posted by Meg in Paris on March 3, 2005 at 9:53 AM

Well maybe it's not the same level of compliment since I've heard of them before, but these look great, Meg -- I'll definitely be trying your recipe too.

Posted by paul on March 3, 2005 at 11:58 AM

Oops, I didn't mean to devalue in advance any further comments. I'm getting a swollen head here!

Posted by Meg in Paris on March 3, 2005 at 2:24 PM

[You just try to devalue this compliment. Just try it.]

Oh, Meg, this is inspiring --- the more so because, with no good Indian restaurants in my neighborhood, I've been wondering if homemade samosas were feasible. These look fantastically good, and I can hardly wait to try making them myself!

Posted by Elsa on March 3, 2005 at 5:21 PM

Thanks, Elsa! They really were a lot easier to reproduce than i hoped!

Posted by Meg in Paris on March 4, 2005 at 2:26 PM

I think I love your blog almost as much as I love samosas (and all other Indian food)! Can't wait to try out the recipe.

Posted by Sweetnicks on March 9, 2005 at 4:00 PM

Meg, I made these last night and had to pop in to thank you. The dough is lovely, just as elastic and resilient as you said, as well as delicious, and is officially my new dough for pierogis and knishes as well. Rather than deep-frying, I rolled mine in oil and baked them, and they came out crisp and brown and lovely. Thanks for the recipe and the inspiration!

Posted by Elsa on March 14, 2005 at 4:11 PM

Elsa, I'm so glad they worked for you! I used the second half of the stuffing with a store-bought pie dough baked in the oven and it was good but not great. Next time, I'll try your trick with the original dough as it would be soooo much healthier. Also, it wouldn't leave me with a jar of oil that I hate to throw away but don't know when I'll use again!

Posted by Meg in Paris on March 14, 2005 at 4:27 PM

Hi all,
I'm from Pakistan and samosas are available everywhere at kiosks here - and I have to agree, they are really a yummy snack - glad to know they're relished around the world! They come in various varieties besides the veggie ones - mince, chicken, and even a cottage cheese stuffing variety.

Posted by Fareeha Rafique on June 13, 2005 at 7:49 AM

Hi all,
I'm from Pakistan, where samosas are commonly available at kiosks. I do agree that they make a lovely hot snack, and it's a pleasure to know they're relished around the world! They can be made in different varieties, besides the potato/vegetable kind, such as with chicken, mincemeat, and even cottage cheese filling.

Posted by Fareeha Rafique on June 13, 2005 at 7:55 AM


Im from India, and i don't know how i landed upto this site, but anyways i went through the Indian recipes you cooked and I would have to say you have done a pretty good job considering the fact that you are doing this for the first time, Indian food IS complicated to prepare.

Don't mean to be rude , but the Chapati shown in the first picture have been burned, Chapati should never have those black burn makes, a few light ones here and there alright, and also they are thinner overall. The fourth picture wherein you are showing how to prepare the chapati is exactly what it should look like.

"Saag" means any veggie with some amount of gravy/liquidy. Palak Panner also is form of a Saag but the Palak (spinach) dominates the gravy, usually spices etc dominate the gravy in other veggies.

You can use any non-veg product in place of potatoes and peas for the samosa.

Keep up the good work


Posted by ms on June 14, 2006 at 8:02 AM

im so glad i found this website, ive been searching everywhere on how to make these but could only find how to make the flat samosas, not these kind.

i've been wanting to know how to make these for a long time.

I had just one question though,.. i was just wondering what exactly you meant by "give a generous helping of salt", i have no idea how much salt i should put there, if you could give me some sort of measurement, that would be wonderful.

also,... i've never actually cooked anything myself before, so if you have any quick beginners tips for me i'd love to know.

thanks alot.

Posted by jaanisar on August 23, 2006 at 4:31 AM

these samosas were one blast meal to impress my inlaws!!!! hehe

Posted by shweta on September 4, 2006 at 2:47 PM

great recipe meg, i've heard of it before but i've never heard of putting yoghurt into the dough mixture. can u tell me how yoghurt helps???
i aslo partially cook the the round chappatis before filling them, i dont know what diffference that makes.

Posted by noorie on September 22, 2006 at 11:04 AM

Just found this recipe, and I'm glad I did! Now I can't wait to make some of these on my own.

I've also gone to the Indian restaurant mentioned in the article, and their samosas are delicious!

Posted by Katy on December 19, 2006 at 2:06 AM

Oh my God, what a brilliant recipe! I've just made these and they WERE amazingly simple. And I hardly had any filling left over. I did find they only took a minute to cook though.

Posted by Katya England on February 4, 2007 at 11:13 AM

This looks realllly good. Can't wait to try it.

I'm 18 and have never cooked a samosa in my life. You're recipe is my first attempt.

I'll tell you how it goes! =)

Posted by Naina on June 26, 2008 at 10:22 AM

Yeup. It worked. I kind of made a variation of the stuffing, but it still worked.

Greeeattt recipe. Thanks so much!

My family was very proud. =D

Posted by Naina on July 1, 2008 at 10:56 PM

How long and how high did you put the samosas in for, Elsa?

Posted by Ree on June 5, 2010 at 6:01 PM

Thank you! I have been dating a man from India for two years and haven't felt this confident making him some of his own kind of food!

Posted by Tasha Watch on August 28, 2010 at 3:03 PM