Samosa

A reader of my blog requested a recipe that was at least forty years old and preferably  from our grandmothers’ (dadi-nani) generation. Samosa came to my mind since every region in India has its own version of stuffed pastry or sweet or savory turnovers.  Samosa is a triangular stuffed savory pastry or turnover that is typically stuffed with spicy potato-pea mixture but has as many variations as there are cooks.  I have been making these for over four decades in my western kitchen with my favorite fillings made with either spicy potato-peas or grated cauliflower-carrots. While you can now purchase ready-made samosas at a number of grocery stores, I still prefer to make them from scratch. In fact, one of the recent “surprise” snowstorms we experienced in October reminded me of one of the gatherings at our place a long time ago when I had prepared over 100 samosas during the Thanksgiving weekend! Fortunately, today there is an array of ready-made appetizers not only at Indian grocery stores but also major supermarkets.

2 medium potatoes, boiled and cubed
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped -optional
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
1/2 tablespoon chaat masala
1/2 cup green peas
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup water or as needed
Vegetable oil for deep-frying

1) To prepare the filling: Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the onion until just translucent. Add fresh ginger and cook for about 30 seconds. Add chaat masala and green peas and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, salt, chopped coriander leaves and additional seasonings as needed.
2) Remove from the heat and taste the mixture and adjust the seasonings as desired. Allow the mixture to cool completely before filling the pastries as it is important that the filling is not moist.
3) To make the dough for the samosa: In a medium-size bowl combine sifted unbleached flour, ½ tablespoon rice flour or sooji, a generous pinch of baking soda and ¼ teaspoon of salt.
4) Add butter (oil or shortening) into flour and mix well. Using a wooden spoon, mix in about 1/3 cup of water intermittently to form a moderately stiff dough. Add extra flour or water to achieve the right consistency.
5) Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth and pliable. Form the dough into a smooth ball and place into a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl and keep it aside at room temperature until the filling is completely cooled.
6) Divide the dough into 6 to 8 equal pieces about the size of walnut, and roll each piece into a smooth ball with your hands. Lightly dust the work surface with flour, roll out each ball into thin circles approximately 5-inch in diameter with a rolling pin.
7) Cut each circle in half and form into a cone (think of those paper hats for children’s birthdays). Place about 1 tablespoonful of the filling on each cone. Press edges together securely; place on baking sheet lined with plastic wrap.
8)In a large cast-iron skillet or preferably a wok, heat oil over medium-high heat. Fry about 3 to 4 pastries or samosas at a time until lightly golden brown on both sides. Place on paper towels and allow them to dry. Keep warm in oven while frying remaining pastries. Serve warm with your favorite chutney.

Note: Filling: Follow the recipe for potato filling above or simply use any of your favorite fillings.

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