Vegetarian Samosa

When I think of Indian snack food, I instantly picture the three-pointed beauty of hot and crispy samosas, a.k.a. The Best Vegetable Samosas. Nothing says fast-casual Indian cooking more than a deep-fried, carb-on-carb, potato-stuffed pastry.

No two samosas are ever identical in shape and colour — you could say they’re as unique as we are.

Love triangle: the significance of samosas in Indian culture

The palm-sized dumplings are iconic of street stalls and restaurant menus alike. Indian festival banquets wouldn’t be complete without them, either.

In fact, I’ve overheard murmurs of outrage at the lack of samosas at a dozen Indian weddings.

They’re expected to show up and perform like it’s their first day working a demanding job. An occasion simply isn’t an occasion without samosas. Casual events also require a samosa platter or five, too.

We snaffle them over chai with friends and stash a few away to devour once all our guests have left after a gathering at home. Keeping a stash in the freezer is common for when last-minute guests show up.

Homemade Samosas: The filling

Although there are countless fillings to choose from, potatoes, onions and peas will always be the poster child for samosas.

The potatoes are usually boiled whole, with the skin on so the inside remains tender and fluffy. Once cooled, the skin-on spuds are peeled and roughly mashed before being united with a mixture of softened onions, spices, and green peas.

Other common vegetarian fillings include soy mince (kheema), cauliflower and peas, Tandoori Paneer, sprouted lentils, Maggi Noodles or Hakka Noodles (seriously). Some of the more modern takes on samosas are wild, but nevertheless, delicious.

Homemade Samosas: The spices

Amchur, or dried mango powder gives potato samosas a welcome tang alongside fragrant, lemony coriander seeds. These two ingredients cut through the richness of the craggy, crunchy fried exterior.

Cumin, onion, chilli and salt add the earthy flavours you crave when only a deeply savoury snack will do.

Homemade Samosas: The pastry

First impressions matter! The pastry is one of the primary indicators of a good samosa. In my opinion, you can instantly tell a good samosa from a bad one by the appearance of the pastry.

My preferred method of making homemade samosas (for texture, flavour and ease) is to use the homemade “shortcrust” pastry.

Why is this pastry a great option?

  • It requires no pre-cooking prior to folding and filling the samosas.
  • This method ensures a perfectly-crispy and robust samosa every time.
  • The pastry is stiff enough to make light work of the stuffing and folding process. This means you don’t need to spend ages fixing tears and snags in the pastry.
  • This is a very forgiving way of making samosas. If the pastry does in fact tear at any point, just pinch the dough together to seal again.
  • Unlike filo pastry samosas, it’s okay if this type to look rough and ready. In my opinion, the craggier the samosa the better! The rough, pitted surface of samosas made with homemade pastry is the perfect carrier for chutney.

    The only question that remains is whether you’re a dipper or a full-blown dunker?

What is “moarn?”

This pastry recipe begins with rubbing together flour and oil to create a rough, breadcrumb-like texture.

It’s similar to making shortcrust pastry, but uses oil in place of butter. Ghee can also be used, if that’s a flavour you like.

The technique is called “moarn” in Hindi and it facilitates the creation of a crispy pastry for deep-fried snacks like samosas and kachoris.

How does it work?

This method works by creating a protective barrier between the flour and water which hinders the development of gluten in the pastry as it is kneaded.

The dough must be kneaded until smooth and overworking the dough could lead to a soggy texture in the absence of rubbing the flour in oil.

Note that the pastry in this recipe requires no pre-cooking prior to folding and filling.

Other ways of making samosas

Another method for making samosas using homemade “samosa Patti” (or samosa pastry) requires the homemade dough to be rolled thinly and partially cooked on a tawa before folding. You can see this technique in my recipe for Mung Daal Samosas.

Samosas can also be made using shop-bought filo pastry, spring roll pastry or puff pastry, depending on the style you prefer.

Some newer methods involve using shop-bought wholewheat wraps to wrap the samosa filling.

How to fold The Best Vegetable Samosas

Stuck on how to fold The Best Vegetable Samosas like a well-seasoned Indian aunty? I’ve got your back.

How to fry homemade samosas

Controversially, these samosas are not fried in hot oil; they are cooked in warm oil… for 35 minutes per batch.

You should be able to comfortably touch the oil with your finger prior to adding samosas to the pan. Be careful not to heat it too much as this will result in uneven cooking.

Simply allow it to cool down before adding the samosas. Very few small bubbles that slowly reach the top of the oil will indicate that the oil is the perfect temperature.

Starting the cooking process in warm oil probably goes against all the laws of deep frying but when it comes to this type of samosa, this is the way to do it. This technique will not result in greasy samosas, I assure you.

Ingredients you’ll need for The Best Vegetable Samosas

  • Potatoes
  • Peas
  • Onions
  • Cumin seeds
  • Fresh ginger
  • Chillies
  • Turmeric
  • Amchur (dried mango powder)
  • Ground coriander seeds
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Flour
  • Ajwain
  • Oil

Recipe for Homemade Vegetable Samosas

Stuffing Variations

There are many variations in a samosa stuffing depending on the region and state in India.

  1. In Delhi and Punjab, potatoes alone or a combination of peas and potatoes are common – where the potatoes or peas are not crushed or mashed. The potato cubes are cooked perfectly but in shape with a few green chili pieces in the filing. There is some sourness in this stuffing as dry mango powder or dry pomegranate powder is added. A few more spices are added as well.
  2. In some variations, raisins are also added which gives the samosa a sweet-sour taste. Sometimes cashews are also added for some crunch.
  3. In some places, the filling is totally mashed with plenty of spices added.
  4. If the green chilies are not added to the filling then fried green chilies are usually served separately.
  5. Some people also add ginger-garlic paste and on few rare occasions, I have found chopped carrots pieces also in the stuffing.
  6. A variation with mixed vegetables is also made. Veggies like peas, carrots, cauliflower, and potatoes are added.
  7. Onion samosa is another variation where a spiced mixture of onions and poha (flattened rice) is filled in the samosa.
  8. Sweet samosa is also made with a stuffing of khoya (mawa), nuts, and dry fruits. This is made usually during festivals like Diwali or Holi. These samosas are also known as khoya samosa or dry fruit samosa.
  9. A variation is also made with paneer cubes added to the stuffing.
  10. A cocktail samosa is a small-sized samosa stuffed with a dry filling of spices, nuts, and dry fruits.

Expert Tips

So you must be wondering what should be the perfect proportions of ingredients in the pastry dough and the correct frying method – to get that flaky and crispy crust. I break it down for you in detail.

1. Proportion of fat

The amount of fat (which we call “Moyen or moan” in Hindi) has to be in the correct proportion in a samosa pastry dough. One of my culinary expert friends always suggests adding ⅕ of fat to 1 part of flour in weight.

Example: For 1 kilogram of flour, you have to add 200 grams of fat. In this samosa recipe, I have kept the same ⅕ proportion of fat – which is 50 grams for 250 grams of flour.

2. Proportion of water

A samosa crust dough has to be kneaded to a tight and firm dough. The dough should not be soft like bread or roti dough. So you need to add less water when kneading. The amount of water that will be added depends on the quality of the flour. Thus add water in parts when you knead the dough.

3. Rolling samosa crust

You have to roll the crust evenly keeping 1 mm thickness all over. Do not roll the crust too thick. A thick crust will take up plenty of frying time resulting in a hard texture.

Do not roll the dough too thin. It won’t be able to contain the potato stuffing and burst in oil. So do keep in mind these tips while rolling the dough.

4. Two frying techniques

There are two frying techniques to get that perfect crispy flaky crust in a samosa.

1. Frying at a low temperature

In this method, firstly heat the oil at a medium or medium-high temperature. Then add the samosa into the hot oil. As soon as you add the samosa to the hot oil, reduce the heat to a low or medium-low and fry samosa on low heat.

This ensures that they do not absorb too much oil. If you directly put the samosa in less hot oil, they soak up too much oil. If you fry samosa in very hot oil, then tiny air bubble pockets can form on the crust and the inside part of the crust will be undercooked.

2. Frying twice

This is a little lengthy method and the one which I will suggest you to try while making samosa if you have plenty of time. In this method initially you have to lightly fry the samosa not allowing them to become golden – just that the dough should look cooked.

Add the samosa in hot oil and remove them when the crust has become opaque and creamish white. Fry until lightly fried so that when you remove them they will not break. Set them aside. Then lower the heat of oil and fry the samosa again until they are golden.

With both the methods, the final samosa will be crisp & flaky from outside and cooked well from inside – like the one you get in the markets and there will be no air pockets on the crust.

How to make Samosa in an air fryer

If you have an air fryer then do try making samosa in it. You will be pleasantly surprised with the texture of the air fried samosa. They do taste similar to the fried samosa, minus the extra oil.

For air-frying, preheat the air fryer at 180 degrees celsius for 10 minutes. Brush samosa with oil and air fry at 180 degrees celsius till the samosa are golden.

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