This Punjabi Samosa is as traditional as it gets, potato-pea stuffing and all. It's crispy and flaky and spicy and, to cut a long ode short, just as a samosa was meant to be by the genius who invented this hand-held snack synonymous with Indian cuisine, restaurant appetizers, and rainy days.
I get so caught up so often in making healthier versions of traditional recipes, often with many twists and turns along the way, that I forget what it's like to enjoy the original. On this blog, I've posted many stuffed savory pastry recipes, including baked samosas with a chickpea filling, and vegan keema samosas. But as delicious as they all are, this traditional Punjabi Samosa is in a class of its own.
I have in the past made whole-wheat wrappers to encase my samosas, but because I was going the traditional route this time, I made the wrappers as they are supposed to be made -- with all-purpose flour -- which creates that perfect flakiness.
You do need a few special ingredients if you want an authentic flavor, like the ajwain or carom seeds for the wrapper and the pomegranate seed powder for the stuffing. Both are easily available online or at Indian grocery stores. Ajwain, especially, gives the wrappers that very special taste your tastebuds likely haven't forgotten since the last time you ate a samosa. You can leave them out if you absolutely can't find them, but it's worth trying to.
One of the things to keep in mind, if you want that perfect flaky wrapper, is that the temperature of your frying oil has to be at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. The samosas should bubble just lightly when dropped in the oil. This ensures that the wrappers fry up all crispy and golden brown and flaky, and not soggy and clogged with oil. Peanut oil would be traditional to fry these, but if you don't have that, use any other unflavored variety that you like, like avocado oil. Do not use coconut oil because its strong flavor will change the taste of your samosas.
Once made, the samosas will probably disappear in minutes (as they do in our home), but if you are wondering, they will last about a week in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
In Bombay, and over the rest of India, samosas are a popular street food, sometimes served encased in a pav ( a soft roll), or torn into pieces and smothered in a chickpea sauce, chutney, tomatoes and onions in a samosa chaat, among many improvisations. But even all by itself, the samosa remains the ultimate snack not just for Indians but for foodies worldwide. Serve this Punjabi Samosa with a traditional date-tamarind chutney, like this one from my Bhel recipe. It's a gastronomic experience to sink your teeth into one and hear it crackle back at you.
What pastry is used to make samosas?
Samosas are typically made with a homemade dough with some oil and salt and carom seeds added to it.
You want a firm but pliable (not soft) dough for the flakiest, most tender samosa wrappers.
You can use puff pastry to make baked samosas, and they're delicious, although not traditional.
Are samosas vegan?
Traditional samosas in India are a vegetarian food, so they don't include animal products (unless specified) and they are usually vegan when you buy them at restaurants, here in the United States or in India. Most home cooks will make them vegan too. Some cooks may add ghee or butter to the pastry dough, but it is really not needed at all.
Can I bake these?
You can, and you'll get pretty yummy results, although the wrappers won't be as golden or flaky, of course. Brush the samosas with oil, place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 40 minutes, flipping them over halfway through.
Can I mix up the ingredients?
You can! Potatoes and peas are a traditional filling, but I sometimes make samosas with a chickpea filling, or with a vegan "meat" filling (you can find both on the blog). You can use almost any quick-cooking vegetable in the stuffing.
Can I make these in an air-fryer?
Yes, once again just brush them with oil or cooking spray and pop them in.
Can you freeze samosas?
Yes, you absolutely can, but freeze them before you fry them. After you've made the samosas, arrange them on a baking sheet and freeze them. Once they're frozen, put them in a Ziploc bag or airtight container and freeze. Thaw before frying. You can freeze the samosas for up to three months.
Are Punjabi samosas healthy?
Depends. 🙂 The stuffing in samosas is rather healthy, but this is a deep-fried food, of course, and therefore it doesn't exactly fall under the category of health food. You can make baked samosas which are certainly healthier, and use a more nutritious filling, like chickpeas or lentils.
Looking for more Indian snack recipes?
For the samosa wrappers:
- 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 tsp ajwain seeds (carom seeds)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- ¾ tsp salt
For the stuffing:
- 5 medium potatoes (yellow or red, boiled until tender and coarsely chopped)
- ½ cup peas (frozen peas work best here. If using fresh, cook the peas until tender before using)
- 1 tsp ginger (grated)
- 2 tbsp cilantro (minced)
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp pomegranate seed powder (anardana powder, optional)
- 1 tsp chaat masala (both the chaat masala and the pomegranate seed add tartness. You can if you just can't get these, substitute with the juice of half a lemon)
- ½ serrano pepper (or jalapeno, minced)
- Salt to taste
- Vegetable oil for deep frying (you need enough for the samosas to be mostly immersed while frying)
Make the dough for the wrapper:
- Mix the flour, carom seeds, oil and salt in a large bowl or in a stand mixer.
- Add water, half a cup at first and then a tablespoon at a time, and knead until you have a very stiff dough. You want to be very sure your dough is very stiff and not soft. Cover the dough and set aside while you make the filling
Make the peas potato filling:
- Crumble the potatoes with your fingers so you have a few lumps -- you don't want to mash these like you would if you were making mashed potatoes. You want some texture in here.
- Heat the oil.
- Add the cumin seeds and, as they start to brown, add the ginger.
- Saute the ginger for 30 seconds, the add the coriander leaves and the green chili pepper. Saute for a few seconds.
- Add the coriander powder, turmeric, pomegranate seed powder and chaat masala (or lemon juice if you're using that instead). Stir to mix.
- Add the potatoes and mix well.
- Add the peas and stir-fry until the peas are tender and the mixture is very dry, about two to three more minutes.
- Add salt to taste. Turn off the heat and let the filling cool slightly.
Make the samosas:
- Divide the dough into 7 equal balls.
- Roll out each ball into an oval, about six inches long and four inches wide. Use some oil to coat the countertop if needed to keep the dough from sticking.
- Using a pizza cutter, cut across the long side of the oval to create two semicircular pieces.
- Coat the edges of each semicircle with water.
- Pick the two corners of the semicircle and bring them together, edges overlapping slightly, to form a cone. Press down on the seam to stick it. It's important to do this thoroughly because you don't want your samosas to open while you're frying them.
- Inside the cone, place a few teaspoons of the filling.
- Now seal the top of the samosa by pressing the top seam together and back.
- Repeat for remaining 13 samosas.
- In a wok or a frying pan, heat three inches of oil.
- When the oil reaches 300 degrees Fahrenheit, drop the samosas, one at a time, taking care not to crowd the pan or you'll end up bringing the oil temperature down very fast. I have an eight-inch wok and I fry three samosas at a time.
- Fry the samosas, turning over occasionally, until they are golden-brown.
- Drain on paper towels before serving with a date-tamarind chutney.