I’ve always wanted to try making Indian samosas. So when my talented graphic designer friend, Mustaali Raj, asked me to do a photo shoot of samosas to showcase his vibrantly designed packaging for a food truck concept called SamosaWala (you can check it out here), I couldn’t resist the opportunity to jump in. The only challenge was that I’ve never found a really good recipe to make a truly authentic version at home. So, I called up my good friend Naminder, who is one of the most well traveled, culinary adventurists that I know. Generously, Naminder shared her mom’s family recipe for authentic Punjabi samosas, which are vegetarian and potato-based. And not a word of a lie, if there was a Guinness Book of World Records for the best samosa recipe, this would be it. With a complexity of flavors ranging from aromatic, slightly tangy, bright hints of cilantro, to a subtle a kick of spiciness, they are by far the tastiest you’ll ever eat. As Mustaali describes them, they are “crispy,” “savory,” and “spicy.” Or, as another friend declared, “every bite of this samosa was a party in my mouth!”
What I love about this recipe is that it is straightforward yet goes by feel. With instructions like “salt to taste” or a “handful of fresh coriander,” Naminder says it’s like so many of her family recipes which are never written down, and the amount of ingredients are always estimated (but don’t worry, this recipe has been accurately measured for consistency!). Above all, what makes these samosas so authentic and delicious are the spices. So to truly make these taste the way they should be, don’t shy away from the exotic ingredients it calls for, such as amchur powder (dehydrated unripened mango powder) and anardana powder (dried pomegranate seed powder). All it takes is one fun outing to an Indian grocery store and you will find everything you need.
Other than testing the recipe a few times and properly measuring the ingredients, I only made a few minor modifications to the dish (for instance, mine are baked, instead of being traditionally fried), as I wanted keep these as true as possible to Naminder’s family recipe. Once made, you can turn the samosas into a great food gift by packaging them up in colorful wrapping paper – like Mustaali’s wrapper, pictured in my photos – and even freeze a batch for later. For any friend who loves Indian food, this vegetarian recipe would be a unique gift that is a twist from the traditional sweet treat. A big thank you goes to both Naminder and Mustaali for sharing their recipe and packaging designs, respectively!
PS: Mustaali’s SamosaWala designs have been nominated for the Open Brand Rising Star contest! Check it out here and vote for him!
Yield: 24 samosas
Active Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
5 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. carom seeds or dried thyme (optional)
2 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. ghee (clarified butter), melted butter or vegetable oil*
2 tbsp. ghee (clarified butter), melted butter or vegetable oil*
1 tsp. cumin
1 inch piece ginger, finely chopped
1 medium onion
1.5 tsp. amchur powder (dehydrated unripened mango powder)
1 tsp. red chilli powder
1 tsp.coriander powder
1 tsp.garam masala
salt to taste (around 1.5 tbsp.)
1 tbsp. crushed coriander seeds
1 tsp. anardana powder (dried pomegranate seed powder)
1 tsp. crushed kasur methi leaves
1 c. frozen green peas
A handful of fresh coriander, chopped
5 medium-sized russet potatoes, boiled
1) Make the pastry dough by blending together the flour, carom seeds/thyme if using, salt and oil. Then slowly start adding warm water and mixing the flour with your hands, aiming to make a tough dough – too much oil or water will make it too soft to work with. Cover with wet towel until ready to use.
2) Make the filling by first heating the cumin in the ghee/oil on medium heat until starts to brown and sizzle, then add the ginger and onion, and sauté until they start to brown as well. Mix in all of the spices (up to and including the anardana powder) and cook for a few minutes until heated through and fragrant. Then add the kasur methi and heat through.
3) Meanwhile, peel the boiled potatoes and coarsely mash (don’t blend or whip them though – they need to have a coarse texture – the goal is not to make a puree out of them, they should still fall apart and be a bit chunky).
4) Add the peas to the spice mixture and cook on medium heat for another few minutes, then add the fresh coriander and mix well. Take the mixture off the heat and add to the mashed potatoes and mix well. Let the mixture cool to room temperature before using.
5) Assemble the samosas by rolling the dough into fist sized balls and grease with oil. Flatten and roll into thin round sheets (so they will look like rotis or tortillas). Once you have a round sheet, cut it down the middle to make a semi-circle. Taking one semi-circle, roll it into a cone, allowing the edges to overlap slightly and press them together to make a seam.
6) Once you have a cone, fill it with your mixture about 3/4 of the way up. Then pinch together the open top, sealing with a bit of water if necessary. Brush the tops with melted butter, if desired.
7) Bake at 350 F / 177 C on a parchment-lined sheet tray for 20 minutes until golden brown on the top.
*Chef’s Tip: Ghee is a type of clarified butter, which is commonly used as a cooking oil in traditional Indian recipes. If you do not have it on hand, melted butter will work well for this recipe, or you can use vegetable oil for a vegan or dairy-free friendly dish.
For a fun and creative way to package these samosas, use a colorful paper to wrap each one up individually (note: to prevent a grease stain, you may want to first wrap the samosa in wax paper, then use the wrapping paper for the outer layer and secure with small piece of tape). Once assembled, these samosas could then be given away as is, or frozen as a batch for future use. If re-heating from frozen, remove the wrapper, place on a parchment paper lined sheet tray and bake at 350 F / 177 C for 10 minutes.