Samosas (or Samoosas as they’re known in South Africa, and as they will be known in this blog) are one of my most favourite snacks. When I was younger I didn’t eat mince or anything where I could see onion in it, so I was very specific with the samoosas I would choose to eat. Sometimes I would need my mom or friend to take a bite first to check the type (ie not chicken or beef) and to check whether or not it contained noticeable pieces of onion. We used to get these massive samoosas for R3 at our university cafeteria – The Hex. They were incredible, but there were days when they obviously hated me, and would put big chunks of onion inside and I would have to forfeit the samoosa to the greedy hands of one of my friends.
Anyway, I digress. I love samoosas. Potato samoosas are still my favourite although I’m less fussy about whether they contain meat or not. They’re the best kind of snack to eat when you’re walking around a market (Joburg has some epic markets with epic food stands that sell epic samoosas), or to take from Woolworths on a picnic. Our local Indian takeaway, Shahenshah (they know us by name) has these epic vegetable samoosas that are just impossible to ignore when scouting the menu.
However, my first thought for India week was curry. I LOVE a curry – vegetarian or chicken curries mainly. I cook curry quite regularly, and used to celebrate Curry Sundays, and so decided that I would extend myself a bit instead of cooking something I’m comfortable with. So Samoosas was the obvious choice (for variety and culinary extension)!
When consulting good ol Google, and Wikipedia of course, I discoved that Samosas didn’t exactly originate in India, but more in the Middle East – possibly Iran. They were apparently introduced into India in the 13th or 14th century by traders from Central Asia. I was put off for like a split second and then decided to go with the Samoosa anyway. There were no rules in the challenge that the dish had to have originated in the specific country, we don’t have Iran included in the challenge, India is famous for Samoosas, and also, it’s my challenge so I can technically do what I want (just in case I had to justify myself!)
I found a few recipes in some of the curry books I have, but many called for the use of Samoosa sheets (instead of dough I think). I didn’t really know where I would find those, but also wanted to do as much from scratch as possible. So therefore the recipe I used for my Samoosas can be found here. I have made a Rajma with coconut milk from Sanjeev Koopar’s website before which was fantastic and decided I couldn’t go wrong.
I did struggle a bit though – mainly that the recipe didn’t give specifics for certain things – like how much water to add to the dough. So I obviously added too much, and ended up having to add flour later. Which was actually fine – it worked out absolutely fine. I didn’t have Maida flour or Caroms seeds, so used normal cake flour and Thyme (as per Google’s recommendations). I also didn’t have Mango powder for the filling but couldn’t find a substitute for that.
I found it really difficult to make the dough into little cones to fill – and ended up doing most of them on the counter top. Many of the samoosas did not look ANYTHING like how they should – some looked like nuggets, others like dumplings, and some just like blobs. Instead of deep frying them (because I don’t have a deep fryer, and didn’t have enough oil) I baked them (this is apparently more the Western way to cook them). I just brushed them with some oil and baked them in the oven for about 30 minutes (15 mins on each side), as per some instructions I found here.
For me the important thing is about how they taste (unless you’re on Masterchef Australia and have Reynold to help you with plating up). The result? They were incredible! Paula had some friends over who loved them (and they didn’t seem to be lying about it). I thought they were delicious. I served them with some Mrs Balls Chutney and some Wellingtons Sweet Chilli. Apart from the dipping sauce they didn’t need anything – except maybe a more consistent shape! I would really like to perfect the dough and the shaping of them because they’re actually not so difficult to make! I was really chuffed with the outcome, and proud I had taken a chance!