The easiest way to crunchy homemade samosas – The Denver Post

By Zainab Shah, The New York Times

In Pakistan, the Urdu word for “yesterday” is the same as the word for “tomorrow.” And lateness is generally acceptable. Sometimes, the sun sets while those observing Ramzan (the Urdu term for Ramadan) are on their way to an iftari, the fast-breaking meal after dusk. In those moments, stuck in traffic, a roadside samosa stand is a prayer answered.

Although, in Pakistan, they’re eaten year-round, at any time, as the perfect accompaniment to chai, samosas may just taste most delicious at iftari. After a long — often hot — day of fasting, they’re the salty, crunchy, spicy snack you need.

Samosas from vendors satiate instantly, but homemade ones can be ready nearly as quickly, once you have a batch in the freezer. And they taste better shared at home with family and friends. When there isn’t a pandemic, samosas are always served at big iftar parties.

But that’s not the only time. In Lahore, where I grew up, people tell you to “come by anytime” and mean it. And when you do go to someone’s house unannounced, you can almost always count on freshly fried samosas glistening on a paper napkin and plate, along with a warm welcome. Finish the plate and your host will bring another.

Samosas freeze well and fry quickly, so home cooks make and keep big batches for unexpected company who pop in, then stay for gup-shup, long chit-chats. In this culture of casual hospitality, cooks use techniques and ingredients that make samosas simpler to execute and also tastier, namely store-bought spring roll wrappers and shallow-frying.

The thin packaged spring roll sheets cook into the crunchiest shells. Frying in a thin layer of hot oil results in the same crispness as deep-frying, and trays of samosas can be baked for large groups.

The wrappers can be filled with any combination of minced cooked vegetables, meat, paneer or even leftovers. The many variations depend on the cook and regional flavors: Samosas from Karachi are known for their spice levels, while Lahori ones tend to be slightly milder and more delicately flavored. There are a couple of classics, such as chicken with onions and green chiles and mashed spiced potatoes with peas.

The finer the texture of the filling, the easier it is to assemble the samosas. They are a forgiving shape — resist thinking too hard about the Pythagorean theorem when folding a triangle from the pastry rectangle. Set up an assembly line, and use the back of a spoon to quickly apply the thinnest layer of flour-water glue to seal the stuffed wrapper and plug any holes in the corners.

Once assembled, the samosas can live in the freezer for months, then be cooked quickly and served with chutney for iftari, spontaneous post-vaccine parties or even just yourself on low-effort cooking days.

Qeema Samosas (Chicken Samosas)

Yield: About 42 samosas

Total time: 1 1/2 hours

Ingredients

For the Filling:

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger paste or finely grated fresh peeled ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic paste or finely grated fresh garlic
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon ground red chile
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 to 3 fresh Thai green chiles, stemmed and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

For Assembly and Cooking:

  • 14 spring roll wrappers (8 inches square; see tips)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • Mint chutney, for serving

Preparation

1. Make the filling: Heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium. Add the ginger and garlic, and cook, stirring, until the raw smell dissipates, about 2 minutes. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Add the cumin seeds, ground chile, coriander and turmeric. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant but not burned, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the chicken, salt and vinegar, and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring to break up the chicken, until all the liquid has evaporated and the chicken is cooked through but still retains some moisture, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Add the garam masala and fresh chiles, and stir for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Turn off the heat and add the cilantro. Stir until well mixed and let stand until cool enough to handle.

4. Meanwhile, prepare to assemble the samosas: Line a sheet pan with wax paper or plastic wrap. Stack the wrappers and cut evenly in thirds to create 42 rectangles, 8 inches long by 2 2/3 inches wide. If your wrappers are not 8 inches square, aim to cut 42 rectangular shapes in a 3-to-1 ratio. Place a damp clean cloth over your pastry sheets to prevent them from drying. Place the flour in a small bowl and add enough water (about 3 tablespoons) to make a smooth paste that’s the consistency of craft glue.

5. Take a pastry rectangle and place it with the long side facing you on a flat work surface. Replace the damp cloth over the remaining pastry sheets to keep them from drying out. Take the bottom-right corner of the rectangle and fold it over the top, with the short side extending 1 to 2 inches past the top. The overlapping pastry at the bottom right of the sheet will form an equilateral triangle with sides that are about 3 inches long. This triangle will be the final shape and size of the samosa. Fold the triangle so its right outer edge is aligned with the horizontal bottom edge of the sheet. There should now be a triangular pocket with two flaps sticking out to the left. Pick up the pocket so it is open and upright like a cone. Fill the cone with 2 teaspoons of the filling. Using the back of a small spoon, spread the flour paste in a thin layer over the remaining strip of pastry. Fold it over the stuffed triangle to seal the samosa. If the corners of the samosa have any gaps, fill them with the flour paste and pinch them to seal. Repeat with the remaining filling and rectangles (you may have leftover wrappers) and lay on the lined sheet pan, spacing apart. They can be fried or baked right away, or frozen on the pan until firm, then sealed in an airtight container or freezer bag. They can be frozen for up to 2 months before frying and go straight into the hot oil from the freezer.

6. To fry the samosas, fill a frying pan with oil to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat the oil over medium-high until it ripples. Add enough samosas to fit without overlapping and shallow-fry until golden brown, 1 to 3 minutes per side (longer, if frying directly from the freezer). Transfer to a cooling rack or plate lined with a paper towel to prevent them from getting soggy. Repeat with the remaining samosas, replenishing and reheating the oil between batches.

7. To bake the samosas, heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 1-inch-deep sheet pan with foil and add a thin layer of oil to the pan (about 1/4 inch). Coat the samosas with the oil in the sheet pan and arrange them on the pan in a single layer in rows. Bake, turning once halfway through, until evenly golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Transfer to a cooling rack or plate lined with a paper towel to prevent them from getting soggy.

8. Serve hot or warm with the mint chutney for dipping.

Tips: TYJ brand spring roll pastry yields the flakiest, crispest samosas. Other brands work as well. If your wrappers are not 8 inches square, cut them into rectangles with the long sides about three times the length of the short sides.

Aloo Samosas (Potato Samosas)

Yield: About 42 samosas

Total time: 1 1/2 hours

Ingredients

For the Filling:

  • 3 medium russet potatoes (1 pound)
  • Fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground red chile
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder (optional)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 to 2 Thai green chiles, stemmed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

For Assembly and Cooking:

  • 14 spring roll wrappers (8 inches square; see tips)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • Mint chutney, for serving

Preparation

1. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by a few inches. Salt the water, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until a knife slides in with little to no resistance, about 20 minutes. Drain, then set aside. When cool enough to handle, peel and use a fork to smush them into a coarse mash.

2. Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan over medium for a minute. Add the cumin and coriander seeds, and stir until the seeds are fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the ground chile and turmeric, and the coriander and cumin powders, if using. Continue cooking, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the potatoes, peas, garam masala and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and raise the heat to medium. Cook, stirring to evenly mix the ingredients, until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the fresh chiles and cilantro. Let stand until cool enough to handle.

3. Meanwhile, prepare to assemble the samosas: Line a sheet pan with wax paper or plastic wrap. Stack the spring roll wrappers and cut evenly in thirds to create 42 rectangles, 8 inches long by 2 2/3-inches wide. If your wrappers are not 8 inches square, aim to cut 42 rectangular shapes in a 3-to-1 ratio. Place a damp clean cloth over your pastry sheets to prevent them from drying out. Place the flour in a small bowl and add enough water (about 3 tablespoons) to make a smooth paste the consistency of craft glue.

4. Take a pastry rectangle and place it with the long side facing you on a flat work surface. Replace the damp cloth over the remaining pastry sheets to keep them from drying out. Take the bottom-right corner of the rectangle and fold it over the top, with the short side extending 1 to 2 inches past the top. The overlapping pastry at the bottom right of the sheet will form an equilateral triangle with sides that are about 3 inches long. This triangle will be the final shape and size of the samosa. Fold the triangle so its right outer edge is aligned with the horizontal bottom edge of the sheet. There should now be a triangular pocket with two flaps sticking out to the left. Pick up the pocket so it is open and upright like a cone. Fill the cone with 2 teaspoons of the filling. Using the back of a small spoon, spread the flour paste in a thin layer over the remaining strip of pastry. Fold it over the stuffed triangle to seal the samosa. If the corners of the samosa have any gaps, fill them with the flour paste and pinch them to seal. Repeat with the remaining filling and rectangles (you may have leftover wrappers) and lay on the lined sheet pan, spacing apart. They can be fried or baked right away, or frozen on the pan until firm, then sealed in an airtight container or freezer bag. They can be frozen for up to 2 months before frying and go straight into the hot oil from the freezer.

5. To fry the samosas, fill a frying pan with oil to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat the oil over medium-high until it ripples. Add enough samosas to fit without overlapping and shallow-fry until golden brown, 1 to 3 minutes per side (longer, if frying directly from the freezer). Transfer to a cooling rack or plate lined with a paper towel to prevent them from getting soggy. Repeat with the remaining samosas, replenishing and reheating the oil between batches.

6. To bake the samosas, heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 1-inch-deep sheet pan with foil and add a thin layer of oil to the pan (about 1/4 inch). Coat the samosas with the oil in the sheet pan and arrange them on the pan in a single layer in rows. Bake, turning once halfway through, until evenly golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Transfer to a cooling rack or plate lined with a paper towel to prevent them from getting soggy.

7. Serve hot or warm with the mint chutney for dipping.

Tips: TYJ brand spring roll pastry yields the flakiest, crispest samosas. Other brands work as well. If your wrappers are not 8 inches square, cut them into rectangles with the long sides about three times the length of the short sides.

Mint Chutney

Yield: 3/4 cup

Total time: 5 minutes

1 cup loosely packed cilantro with stems

2 cups loosely packed mint leaves

2 teaspoons cumin seeds or 1 teaspoon cumin powder

3 to 5 Thai green chiles, stemmed

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup Greek yogurt or water

2 garlic cloves (optional)

1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed, scraping the bowl occasionally, until smooth and thick enough to hold at the lip of a spoon without any liquid running. The chunky bits should not separate from the liquid. The consistency of the chutney will probably depend on the strength of the blender, and a chunky chutney made with a lower powered blender tastes just as good as a very smooth one. The chutney can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 day.

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