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How to make the perfect samosa: top tips for mastering the Indian savoury snack

These filled savoury pastries are an Indian speciality and the ideal snack for lockdown. Learn how to master them with the help of one food writer and chef.

By Anjum Anand
Published 26 Apr 2020, 08:00 BST
Samosas are thought to have originated in the Middle East or Central Asia as a pastry for travellers.
Photograph by Getty

The samosa is thought to have originated in the Middle East or Central Asia as a meat-filled pastry for travellers. They came to India with the Mughals, and were eaten both in Mughal courts and on the streets, with the fillings varying between communities.  

Samosas will keep for a few days in an airtight container in the fridge. They freeze well (place them flat in a resealable bag to avoid sticking). If you plan to freeze samosas you’re making, fry until cooked but still pale, then fry to golden before eating.

The oil needs to be hot enough that a little ball of dough dropped in will bubble straight away and float to the surface (if the temperature is too low the pastry will absorb the oil). Once it’s at the optimum temperature, reduce to a low heat and fry the samosas until golden. You can also bake them, brushed with a little oil.

The pastry needs to have enough fat to get it light and crispy. When you’ve made it, cover with a damp cloth and rest for 30 minutes to make it easier to roll and flakier. You shouldn’t need any extra flour when rolling out — if it’s sticking, use a little oil.

The filling needs to be cooked and relatively dry. Popular options include minced lamb or potatoes and peas — both spiced and combined with chilli, coriander and sometimes raisins or roasted nuts. There are also sweet versions, called gujjias, and even chocolate samosas.

In India, samosas are a popular snack with tea. Serve with a tangy herb chutney, tamarind chutney or even ketchup, or make a samosa chaat. To do this, top with seasoned yoghurt and chutneys, finely chopped red onions and sev (a vermicelli). 

Anjum Anand is a food writer and chef, and founder of The Spice Tailor.

Published in issue 8 of National Geographic Traveller Food

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