Samosas with mint chutney (left) and tamarind chutney (right). Photographer: Hillary Levin/TNS
Never mind that they actually originated in the Middle East. The food that is perhaps the most Indian of all Indian foods, the food most people think of first when they think of Indian foods, is samosas.
Samosas are the ultimate street food. A bit of filling stuffed into dough and fried, small enough that you can eat it with your fingers, is served in one form or another by street vendors all around the world. But it is in India that it is most popular and best known. The quintessential street food has invaded the menus of even the finest Indian restaurants around the world.
Samosas have two parts, the filling part and the dough part. Fillings can be meat or vegetarian, they can be made of seafood or cheese or nuts and raisins. The dough can be homemade or fashioned out of an already-existing pastry, such as store-bought phyllo sheets, and it can be baked or fried.
And of course, samosas aren’t samosas without a mint chutney and a tamarind chutney.
1 2/3 cups (7 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ajwain (carom) seeds, optional
4 tablespoons oil, such as sunflower oil, divided, plus more for frying if desired
About 5 tablespoons water
1/2 medium onion, chopped
Black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon Indian chili powder
1 clove garlic, minced, or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pound ground beef
1 large wedge of lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, optional
1. Make the dough: Put the flour, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and ajwain seeds (if using) in a bowl and add 3 tablespoons of the oil. Use your fingers to rub the oil into the flour until it resembles coarse sand. Gradually add the water, stirring, just until the dough comes together (you may need more or less water, depending on the humidity in your kitchen).
2. Knead for a few minutes until smooth, then place in a greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rest 15 to 20 minutes.
3. While the dough is resting, make the filling. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet and sauté the onion until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, black pepper, chili powder (or cayenne) and garlic. If using fresh garlic, sauté for 30 seconds. Add ground beef, and sauté.
4. When the beef is almost done, squeeze the lemon over it and add cilantro and optional mint. Remove from heat when done.
5. Roll out the rested dough into a long cylinder. Cut the cylinder into 12 portions and use a rolling pin to roll each portion into a circle with a diameter of 4 to 5 inches. Cut each circle in half.
6. Take 1 semicircle of dough in the palm of your hand and brush some water along the edge. Shape it into a cone by folding it in half on the straight edge, then sticking the 2 straight edges together. Put 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture into the cone. Brush the open edge of the dough with water, and press to seal. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
7. If frying, heat at least 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees and fry 2 or 3 samosas at a time until golden brown on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes. If baking, heat oven to 350 degrees and brush baking sheet and samosas lightly with oil. Bake until golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.
For the filling
1 to 2 tablespoons oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon pepper sauce or chili sauce, such as sriracha
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 pound ground chicken, beef or turkey
1/3 cup frozen peas
2 to 3 tablespoons cilantro or parsley
Salt to taste
For the dough
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup oil or ghee (clarified butter)
1. For the filling: In a medium-large skillet, add oil, onions, garlic and ginger, and sauté, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add curry, pepper sauce, paprika, white pepper and cayenne; cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add ground meat and cook until done. Add peas and parsley, and season to taste with salt. Remove from heat to cool. This may be prepared up to a day in advance.
2. For the dough: In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar and salt. Add water and oil or ghee. Mix just until the ingredients come together. On a heavily floured surface, knead the dough until it is soft, elastic and smooth, about 3 to 4 minutes. Do not overwork the dough.
3. Divide dough into 8 balls. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll each ball in turn into a thin circle. Cut the circle in half. Place a generous 1 to 2 tablespoons of filing in the middle of the semi-circle and use your finger to lightly moisten the dough edges with water. Fold the end over the filling to form a triangle. Continue with the remaining dough.
4. If frying, heat at least 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees and fry 2 or 3 samosas at a time until golden brown on both sides, about 3 or 4 minutes. If baking, heat oven to 350 degrees and brush baking sheet and samosas lightly with oil. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
POTATO AND PEA SAMOSAS
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as sunflower
1 teaspoon mustard seeds (any colour)
1 green chile, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Indian chili powder
1 teaspoon mango powder (amchur), optional
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
2/3 cup fresh or frozen peas
5 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed
1 package phyllo sheets, thawed, or homemade samosa dough
1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds. Once they begin to pop, stir in the green chile, salt, chili powder or cayenne, optional mango powder and garam masala, and mix well.
2. Add the peas and cook until they are softened, 1 minute for frozen or 5 to 6 minutes for fresh. Add the mashed potatoes, mix well and cook 2 minutes until well combined. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
3. If using phyllo dough or you wish to bake the homemade dough, preheat oven to 350 degrees; phyllo should be baked. Take 1 sheet of phyllo, covering remaining sheets with a damp towel. Fold phyllo in thirds, lengthwise, and brush edges with water. Place 11/2 to 2 tablespoons potato mixture about 1 inch from one end and fold over to form a triangle. Continue folding as you would a flag, tucking the last edge into the slot formed by the sheet.
4. If using homemade dough, divide dough into 10 balls. Roll out each ball into a thin circle. Cut each circle in half and moisten the edges with water, using your finger. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the centre of each semicircle and fold the dough over in half, sealing the edges.
5. If baking, place the samosas on a lightly greased baking sheet (brush oil over the tops of the samosas if using phyllo). Bake until golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.
6. If frying, heat at least 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees and fry 2 or 3 samosas at a time until golden brown on both sides, about 3 or 4 minutes.
1 cup frozen tamarind pulp
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
5 dates, pitted and chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Indian chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1. Mix the tamarind pulp, dates and brown sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Stir in the salt, chili powder and cumin.
2. Remove from heat and strain, pressing on the dates to extract more flavour. This chutney will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 days.
1 3/4 ounces mint leaves
1 3/4 ounces cilantro leaves
1 small onion, roughly chopped
3 small green chiles
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. This chutney can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.Tribune News Service
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