Vegetarian Samosas served with Sweet Chili Sauce
Growing up in Cape Town, South Africa meant eating curries as regular meals and being surrounded by the flavors of Indian and Malaysian spices. Almost every little mini-market (which we called cafes) sold little triangles of crispy dough filled with curried meat or vegetables, known as samosas, which originated in India and South-east Asian countries. This was as common as finding hot dogs on the street corners of New York or falafel on the street corners of Tel Aviv. I loved the kosher versions of these little spicy pockets of flavor when I was growing up. They were always a treat, with their delicious crunch and rush of spice and flavor.
After years of not eating a samosa, I recently stumbled on a recipe that inspired me to take up the challenge. It was a chicken version of a mini curry pie that resembled the samosa of my childhood, so I decided to give it a whirl and adapted as vegetarian because it cut down on the work and, I believe, increased the flavor. I also used store bought puff pastry to cut down on the work, but you can use a home-made dough as well (recipe below), which will take more time.
The result was a batch of really more-ish samosas that my kids loved and we all couldn’t stop eating. Served with a dipping dish of chutney or sweet chili sauce, this is a great little platter to serve with drinks.
VEGETARIAN PUFF PASTRY SAMOSAS
1 kg frozen puff pastry
1-2 tablespoons oil
1 large or two medium-sized potatoes peeled and finely diced
1 small onion finely chopped
1 large carrot finely diced
1 large (or 2 medium) very ripe tomato peeled and finely chopped
½ cup corn kernels (I use frozen)
½ cup frozen peas
1-2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2-3 cloves of garlic crushed
2 tablespoons curry powder (you can reduce this amount for a milder flavor)
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
1 egg beaten
2-3 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)
Chutney or sweet chili sauce for serving
How to do it
1. Remove the puff pastry from the freezer and allow to defrost a few hours before preparation so it is thawed in time for use.
2. Add water and some salt to a small pot, add the potatoes and bring to the boil. Cook for no more than 10 minutes and drain.
3. In a large skillet or wok, saute the potatoes carrots and onions in oil until they are all cooked through (about 5 minutes)
4. Add the ginger and garlic and saute for about a minute, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the curry powder and stir through until mixed (no more than half a minute)
5. Add the tomato and allow to cook till soft.
6. Add the peas and corn and stir through for about a minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
7. Add the coriander and salt and pepper to taste.
Cut the pastry into squares
8. Unroll the pastry and cut width-ways into three sections. Take one section, and place it on a clean, floured surface. Roll the pastry out (making sure to flour the rolling pin as well) until it is about half the thickness. Using a pizza cutter or very sharp knife, cut squares of about 6×6 cm (2½x2½ inches). Place about one teaspoon of the filling into the center of each piece of pastry. Fold the pastry carefully over the filling, making sure the filling doesn’t touch the ends of the pastry so you have a clean surface to seal, and removing all the air from inside. Press the edges of the pastry closed with your fingers and then use a fork to seal the sides shut.
Place a teaspoon of filling in the center of the pastry square
(Tip: To ensure the filling doesn’t leak out during baking, turn the samosa over to make sure it is sealed closed from both sides. If not, give it another press with the fork from the back side as well.) Repeat for the other two sections of pastry.
9. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Place the samosas onto a baking tray lined with baking paper, leaving about an inch between each. Brush the beaten egg onto each samosa, and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top if desired. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the samosas are golden in color. Serve with chutney or chili sauce.
Ready for baking
Makes about 36
Alternative: Home-made Pastry
You can use the following pastry recipe if you prefer home made pastry. This will give you a less flaky consistency and a more pie-like crust.
½ cup oil
1 cup water
3-3½ cups flour (or as needed to make an elastic dough)
3½ teaspoons baking powder
How to do it
1. In a large bowl, whisk the oil and egg together. Add the salt and water and beat well.
2. Stir the flour into the liquid one cup at a time, and mix slowly until you get a doughy consistency. Then use your hands to add all of the flour so you get a workable, elastic dough that you will be able to roll out. Do not overwork the dough – knead just until all combined and smooth.
3. On a clean, floured surface, take one handful of the dough, and roll it out into a 3mm thick circle, using a floured rolling pin. The dough will spring back, so you can roll it a little thinner than 3mm.
4. Using a round cookies cutter about 8½cm (3½ inches) in diameter, cut circles in the dough. Note: Put the leftover in-between bits of dough back in with the rest of the dough and re-use it. It’s a forgiving dough that won’t come apart because it’s already been rolled out.
5.Take about 1 teaspoon of the curry filling and place it in the middle of the circle. With your finger tip, dab some water along one half of the circle and close the dough over the filling, using your right thumb to push the filling to the back of the samosas you have a clean surface to seal. Making sure not to leave any air inside, seal the samosa with your finger tips and then use a fork to seal the edges further. Tip: Turn the samosa over and make sure that the bottom is properly sealed. If not, then give it another press with the fork.