Friday, July 23, 2010

Scrummy Savoury Samosas and Chappatis - a Taste of India

I have loved samosas since I first tasted them over 30 years ago when I went to live in Bangladesh, where they are known as shingaras. if the pastry is flaky and samosas if crispy!
The years in Bangladesh were an exotic exciting experience that proved life-changing in more ways than I'd bargained for when I set off on the great adventure. I met hubby in Bangladesh when he came to work there as a volunteer a year after I started my two year stint as a volunteer with the Irish-based NGO Concern, and the rest is history - that was the start of a long involvement with development work and living in extremely interesting places and generally way off the beaten track and far from the tourist trail - even by backpacker standards.

In Tanzania there was a large Indian community throughout the country, mainly Gujerati in origin, so samosas were widely known and wonderful. In Laos, where we also lived, there were not so many Indian restaurants, but the street food there was so delicious you could happily live with what they had to offer - and the local equivalent of spring rolls was comparable - pastry wrapped, deep fried and filled with spicy local meat and/or vegetables.

My introduction to Indian/Bangladeshi food was in at the deep end - food-wise it was an eye-opener and I have never looked back - I really enjoy samosas and have to curb my enthusiasm or my curves would need to be curbed big time! They are treats to be treated as such - occasional snacks or starters, and not something to sit down to when you've a good book on the go and the munchies set in. They are best with mango chutney on the side - as a dipsauce. You could also use sweet chili sauce but it's more Southeast Asian than Subcontinental.

Here's the recipe I use - and there are wonderful samosas locally available in the Farmers' Market, made by a new foodie outfit, Pie in the Sky by Maeve. She has lovely samosas - homemade with filo pastry, which I used in this batch. Our lovely Bangladeshi/Indian Restaurant, Saffron, does lovely samosas with the chappati-type pastry. All are preferable to the frozen or chilled ones you get in party packs at Christmas in the supermarkets.

I have also used Chappati dough rolled thinly and cut in half-circles, then folded over with the filling in the middle, and that is also delicious. In both cases, use sunflower or any vegetable oil, though olive oil might be a tad rich, and deep fry in small quantities in hot oil, dipping in for a minute or so tops. Use a slotted spoon and be careful of spatters. They will cook very quickly so be warned.

I have shown the stages of wrapping in the photos. I hope you give them a go. You will pay about €2 (two Euro) per piece in the market or takeaway, and they are really easy to make once you have the necessary stuff in store.

Peas and Potatoes Samosas.
(You can add unsalted cashew nuts for a more upmarket samosa if you have them, as the book recipe indicates)

Ingredients (makes about 12 large/20 small samosas)
  • 12os/350g. potatoes - peeled and diced

  • 4oz/125g frozen peas

  • 45ml veg. oil

  • 1 onion - peeled and chopped

  • 1 garlic clove - peeled and chopped

  • 1inch/2.5cm ginger piece - peeled and chopped

  • 1tsp garam masala

  • 2tsp curry paste - mild or medium as you like it (I use Patak's or Sharwood's)

  • half teasp. cumin seeds

  • 2tsp lemon juice


  • Boil the potatoes and peas in boiling salted water for 8-10 mins, until potatoes are tender, then drain
  • Heat oil in frying pan
  • Add onion, garlic, ginger, spices, peas and potatoes

  • Stir fry for 2 mins

  • Add lemon juice and cook gently for 2 mins

  • Remove from heat, roughly mash the mix and season with salt/pepper to taste


    Frozen Filo can be used - about half a pack - it's handy if you can handle the thin sheets - that's what you see in the photos I took.
  • Cut into strips about 4 inches/10cm wide X 12inches/30cm long

  • Put the mix on one end of the strip and fold the strip over the mix

  • Then fold it again and again until strip end is reached.

    As it's so thin it has to be folded a number of times to get any substance in it, and it is lovely and crispy. It is probably more calorific as the oil will be trapped in the layers of the pastry.

    Preferably I would use Homemade pastry - like Chappati dough rolled thin. This is more substantial and doesn't have to be layered like the Filo Pastry.

    You can use this for Chappatis and just make dinner-plate size circles from the dough. Then shallow fry in a smidgen of oil for a Paratha-like bread, or if you have a heavy cast-iron griddle pan, do them the trad Indian way with no oil, just browned with char-grilled bits - the real thing and delicious as a wrap or to mop up your rice and dhal.

    Pastry/Chappati Dough
  • 8oz/450g plain flour

  • 2oz/60g butter or 3 tablespoons oil

  • water to mix to stiff dough

  • half teasp. salt


  • Mix all pastry ingredients and knead well until smooth and not sticky

  • Leave for a while to rest

  • Pull off golf-ball size pieces and roll into a ball

  • Using a rolling pin and floured worktop, roll into teaplate size circles, cut in half and place cooked filling on one side of semi-circle
  • Brush edges with water and fold over to seal

  • Deep fry in hot oil until golden brown in heavy-based frying pan (you could use a deep-fat fryer if you have one - I don't and it's not necessary)

  • Drain well on kitchen paper
  • Serve with Mango Chutney and enjoy!

You can eat them cold as a lunchbox snack, or warm them up in the oven. As they are veggie they will keep in the fridge in a covered container, or in the freezer, and you can re-heat them quickly in the oven.

They are also great party snacks. For our New Year's Eve Party the last two years, I made a massive Indian buffet - Beef curry, Chicken curry, two types of Dhal, Basmati Rice, and a mountain of homemade Chappatis, with lots of samosas and onion bhajias and raitas on the side - some day I'll give the details in recipes - way too much information for one post.


Mimi said...

They look yummy!
I'm trying not to eat, while at the same time staying awake till daughter no 2 comes home from a party!

Irene said...

They look delicious, but I would want you to make them for me. I'll come over to your house at New year's, Just send me directions on how to get there.

Rudee said...

These look really tasty. The times I've tried them in Michigan have been disappointing.

Unknown said...

Delightful looking treats. I have written the recipe down and want to explore this delight my self.


menopausalmusing said...

Come on Bill Gates, invent a "scratch and sniff" screen....... :O)

They look sooooo tasty!!

Anonymous said...

These look yummy...Indian food is one of my favorites but, sadly, the closest restaurant is about an hour away so I've tried to find a few fail-proof recipes. I'll have to try this recipe.

Anonymous said...

I love Indian food but the closest restaurant is too far away for frequent visits so I've tried to find a few fail-proof recipes. Samosas are one of my favorite things to get so I'll have to try out your recipe (although I'll probably use the phyllo dough to save time).

Theresa Milstein said...

Indian food is my favorite. Well, one of my favorites. If I were stranded on a desert island, I could live on Indian food for the rest of my life. I've never tried to make samosas, but it doesn't look too difficult from your post, so maybe I'll try.

Marilyn Miller said...

Love samosas and yours look very, very good.

Sheila said...

thanks for visiting my blog Catherine - I'll look forward to crossing the seas to visit you in Ireland!

Catherine said...

Thanks to all for commenting on my blogpost and glad that you all enjoy the samosa recipe - I hope you get to put it into practice now!

MIMI - if you get the munchies waiting for teenagers to come home from discos you could eat some samosas!
NORA - hope you get to Ireland some day! It's chappatis at new year - not yet samosas - maybe next time!
RUDEE - you'll have to start a trend in Michigan then - home made samosas to go with your knitting!
BROOKE- thanks for visiting - nice website you have. Drop by anytime!
CATHY - That would be a hoot, scratch'n'sniff tv or screens - maybe only for cookery programmes though - could be dodgy for farming programmes for example!
EDIE - we are lucky to have Saffron down the road and then to have the Farmers' Market and then we can just make them! Hope you try.
THERESA - thanks for visiting and following - agree about the food, I could happily live on Indian food forever and so could hubby - kids might rebel though - they're still a bit conservative, will be till they hit mid-20s by the looks of it!
MARILYN - thanks - they are lovely so get cooking!I think they are the best snack food - that crispness with the spicy filling - yummy!
SHEILA - thanks for visiting too - hope you follow if you wish and keep on dropping in!
All the best, Catherine.