One of the most popular items among Indian teatime snacks and street foods is the Samosa. There are subtle regional variations in the recipe all across India depending on tastes, preferences and the seasonality of key ingredients. In most parts of North India, the Samosa is usually a hot, spicy snack while in Bengal it could even turn out to be sweet! Yes, Bengalis actually have a sweet Samosa which they call Kheerer Singara (a Samosa stuffed with Kheer, as the name implies).
Here’s a surprising fact: in spite of being a popular Indian snack for thousands of years, the Samosa did not originate in India. Food historians have traced the origins of this food to ancient Persia where it was called Sanbusak. Even today, in the Middle East you can find a similar triangular fried snack called Samsa which is very similar to our Samosa.
Interestingly, the Persian version of the Samosa was non-vegetarian – it used meat fillings. In fact, certain parts of India like the South Indian states and Bengal have similar non-vegetarian versions using minced meat (Keema) as the main filling.
So how did this Persian snack reach India? Around the 13th Century, chefs from Persia began visiting the courts of the Delhi Sultanate to share their culinary secrets with royal patrons in India. In his writings, the well-known poet and scholar Amir Khusro mentions the meat-filled version of the Samosa as a favourite among the nobles. Later, in the 14th Century, the famous traveller and writer Ibn Batuta provides an accurate description of how the Samosa was served in the court of Mohammed bin Tughlaq. It was an appetizer served immediately after the Sherbet and before the main course.
Again in the 16th Century, Abul Fazal, the court historian of Emperor Akbar describes the Samosa in Ain-i-Akbari, a detailed chronicle of life during the Mughal era. His writings tell us that in Akbar’s time, the Samosa was no longer a delicacy restricted to the royal kitchens and was enjoyed by people all over India.
So that’s the Samosa Story – from an ancient Persian delicacy to a regal snack in the Mughal courts and finally, spreading far and wide to become a popular teatime snack and an eagerly sought after street food all over India.
Today’s post is about the traditional Indian version of the Samosa that has been one of our favourite snacks across generations. The recipe that we will explore looks at the North Indian style of making Samosas embellished with rich spices and fried in cold-pressed Mustard Oil.
Let begin by gathering the ingredients that you will require.
Potatoes: 500 grams
Peas: 50 grams
All-purpose Flour (Maida): 250 grams
Mustard Oil: 200 millilitres
Carom (Ajwain) Seeds: 1 teaspoon
Ginger (Adrak) Paste: 1 tablespoon
Green Chillies: 2
Asafoetida (Heeng): Just a pinch
Lemon Juice: 1 tablespoon
Coriander (Dhania) Leaves: 4 tablespoons
Cumin (Jeera) Seeds: 1 teaspoon
Garam Masala: 1 teaspoon
Red Chilli Powder: 1 teaspoon
Fennel (Saunf) Powder: 1 teaspoon
Salt: to taste
The quantities mentioned above are for making 10 Samosas (five plates in street food parlance). Adjust the quantities proportionately to suit the number of Samosas you require.
Peel, wash and boil the potatoes till they are done – use a fork to check. Ensure that they don’t become pulpy or too soft. When your potatoes are done, crumble them (don’t mash them). Keep aside.
Finely chop the green chillies.
Finely chop the coriander leaves.
Prepare the dough for your Samosas: in a mixing bowl, take the flour, carom seeds, salt (a teaspoon should be enough) and 60 millilitres of Mustard Oil. Mix the flour well to ensure that the oil gets evenly blended with the flour. As a test, take a handful of the flour and compress it with your fingers. When you release your grip, the flour should not crumble and fall apart. If it does, add a little more oil and mix again. When the flour is ready, add water – a little at a time – and mix to form hard, stiff dough. Cover the dough with a damp towel and keep aside for around 30 minutes.
Next, let’s make the potato filling for the Samosas: heat two tablespoons of Mustard Oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds. When the seeds begin to splutter, add the ginger and sauté for a couple of minutes. Next add the asafoetida, garam masala, red chilli powder and fennel powder and continue to sauté. After around 30 seconds, add the potatoes along with the peas, coriander leaves and salt to taste. Stir to mix well and sauté for around 3 minutes. Then turn the flame off and let the contents cool down to room temperature. Add the lemon juice and mix well. Keep aside.
Knead the dough and divide it into five equal portions. Use your hands to roll each portion into a palm-sized ball.
Coat the rolling pin and the rolling board with a little oil. Place a ball of dough on the rolling board and drizzle a bit of oil on it. Then roll it into an oval shape that’s around 9 inches long and 7 inches wide. Don’t roll it too thin – but not too thick either. Next use a kitchen knife to cut the oval piece laterally into two equal parts. Each part will be used for making one Samosa. Once you are done, you should have 10 semi-oval pieces of rolled dough.
The straight edge of each piece should be thin. If it is thick, apply the rolling pin once again to make it thin.
Now use your fingers to apply water on the straight edges of the dough pieces. Carefully fold the dough to form a cone shape, bringing the straight edges together in a straight line. Press the edges from the outside and the inside so that they are firmly stuck and do not come apart.
Fill the cone-shaped dough with the potato filling. Then apply water to the edges (on the open side of the cone) and press them to form a pleat. Pull the pleat over and seal it firmly by pinching it.
Repeat this process for the remaining nine pieces of dough.
Heat the remaining Mustard Oil in another pan on Medium heat. When the oil reaches its smoking point and emits puffs of aromatic (and pungent) white smoke, turn the flame down to Low.
Deep-fry the Samosas in batches. Take your time. There is no need to rush this part of the process. It will take around 10 minutes for the crust to become firm. When this happens, increase the flame to Medium and keep frying. Turn the Samosas over to ensure even frying on all sides.
When the Samosas become crisp and take on a golden yellow colour, remove them from the pan and place them on paper towels to drain the excess oil.
Your Samosas are now ready! Serve them hot with tomato ketchup, tamarind chutney or any other condiment of your choice. Your homemade Samosas are healthier than their street food counterparts because they are prepared hygienically in your kitchen and they are made with cold-pressed Mustard Oil which is one of the healthiest cooking oils for deep-frying.
You can find more recipes at : https://www.purioilmills.com/recipes-in-english/