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Sunday, January 25, 2004

Samosas Recipe

I always assumed samosas were Indian. They're one of the most popular snacks in India. Here in the US, just about every Indian restaurant has samosas on the menu, listed under appetizers. While I assumed they came from India, I have read that they actually come from the Middle East or Central Asia, where early versions were filled with dried fruit, nuts and lamb in medieval times. There is a similar cheese filled pastry called sambusek found throughout the Middle East today. In fact, samosas are popular well beyond India and the Middle East, and there are versions all over the world including places like Africa and the Caribbean. A French version is spelled "samoussa" and is sometimes filled with chicken, fish or shrimp.

Recipes for samosas vary greatly. At the most basic, they are a crispy pastry, in the form of a triangle, filled with either spiced potatoes and peas or ground lamb. But they also come with cheese fillings and other types of vegetables as well. There are many recipes for samosas, using slightly different pastry doughs, and even more for ways you can make them using pre-made pastry. You can make them the traditional way or use anything from flour tortillas to filo dough to gyoza wrappers. The traditional recipes use flour, water and a little oil or flour and yogurt or in some cases buttermilk.

While I normally enjoy making recipes with minimum effort, this is an involved, and time consuming recipe. But sometimes cooking can be a form of meditation, a chance to block everything else out for a while. if you are in the mood for something that will absorb your energies and your mind for a bit, you may want to try this recipe.

Makes 16, but you can make 1/2 this recipe if you prefer


2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp oil
6 Tbsp water, more if necessary

1 onion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons oil
4 large potatoes, cooked and cubed
1 cup green peas
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
pinch cayenne


For the filling--saute the onion, toast the spices in the same pan and add the rest of the ingredients, tasting for seasoning and adding a few tablespoons of water if dry.

For the pastry--Rub the oil into the flour then slowly mix in the water, knead for 10 minutes then let the dough rest for at least a half an hour. The dough will be VERY stiff. Knead the dough again and divide into eight balls which you then roll flat to about six inches in diameter, cut in half and forming a cone shape, fill with 2 T of filling. Use water to seal the pastry on along all edges. Shallow fry in oil until golden brown. Serve with chutney, especially a fresh mint and cilantro type. (I may experiment to see if you can bake these too, though I haven't tried it that way yet)