I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't love samosas.
Traditional Punjabi samosas which are all vegetarian with spicy potatoes and pea filling are delightfully savory treats and one of India's great gifts to the world.
There are so many versions and varieties of stuffing but I think the very beginning is a very good place to start - basic samosas with spicy potato and pea filling that are at the heart of Punjabi cooking. I don't consider most store-bought frozen ones that are flattish triangles in almost a phyllo crust to be the real deal and can't compare to traditional samosas.
The real challenge and therefore achievement, is a crust that is crispy without being hard and a filling that is spicy and tangy. The tanginess is achieved with either the use of ground pomegranate seeds or dried mango powder - amchur.
I have chosen to use amchur in this recipe. Unlike, short cut versions that use mashed potatoes that are spiced and used as filling, dicing the potatoes are cooking them in pure ghee with minimal water until tender and a rich fragrant flavor to the potatoes.
You'll find recipes for both chutneys, sweet tamarind and cilantro, HERE
This is a recipe best made over a weekend or when you have some time on your hands since it requires some planning and prep work before you can get started on the stove.
Traditional Punjabi Samosa
Makes 12 samosas
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, maida
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 tsp ajwain seeds (carom seeds)
1/2 tbsp. salt
3/4 cup water +additional 4-5 tbsp. water, if needed
5-6 large russet potatoes, to yield 5 cups-full, chopped
2 inch fresh ginger root, to yield 3 tbsp. finely chopped
3-4 Thai green chilies, depending on tolerance to spicy-heat
3 tbsp. ghee - pure clarified butter
1/2 cup frozen, shelled green peas
3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, packed
1-1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 to 1 tsp red chilly powder
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
4 tsp amchur powder (ground dried mango)
1-1/2 tsp salt
Canola oil for deep frying - oil to a depth of 3 inches in the deep pan or kadhai
Also required: a plate approx. 7 inches in diameter that you can use as a guide to cut a circle in the dough + a metal ruler (scale).
Dough – Sift the flour and salt into medium bowl or use an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the oil and beat until combined. Add 3/4 cup of the water slowly, mix, and work until the dough comes together on medium setting 3 or 4. This will take a few minutes. Add the remaining water, little by little and only if needed. The dough must be firm and yet soft enough to roll.
Grease hands with some oil and turn the dough ball onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 4 minutes into a firm, smooth dough ball. Cover with a damp, moist kitchen towel and let it rest while you prepare the filling.
Potatoes: Peel, discard skin and any brown spots or growths. Cut into 1/4" squares (NO larger and no smaller) and set aside in a bowl of water to soak so the potatoes do not discolor and brown.
Cilantro: Finely chop and set aside. Soak in water to prevent discoloring if not using immediately. Drain completely before using.
Frozen Peas: Soak in hot water until soft or microwave for 45 seconds. Once cool, squeeze to remove all excess water.
Ginger: Peel and finely chop or if you prefer you can grate using a vegetable grater. Set aside.
In a small bowl keep some tap water handy. Keep the cooled filling with a tablespoon near you. Also, a platter or baking tray to keep the assembled samosas along with a kitchen cloth to prevent them from drying out as they sit.
Heat the ghee in a large sauté pan preferably non-stick over medium-high heat. When very hot, add the cumin seeds and splatter. Immediately add the chopped ginger and sauté for a few seconds. Add the potatoes and salt. Sauté for about 5 minutes over medium-high heat.
Add 2 tbsp. water, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook until the potatoes are soft. Stir regularly since the potatoes have a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the green peas, green chilies, red chilly powder, garam masala powder and amchur powder and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
To form samosas:
On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for a few seconds.
Divide into 2 equal portions and roll each into a 1-inch thick rope. Cut each into 6 equal parts and roll into smooth balls.
Place each ball on the floured surface and roll into a thin circle, about 7-8 inches in diameter. Each circle should be no thicker than 1/16 of an inch. Cut each circle in half (2 semi-circles). Form each semi-circle into a cone shape.
Spoon about 2-3 tbsp. filling in the center of each semi-circle and press down with the bottom of the tablespoon.
Using your Index finger, seal the edges with water and fold the dough over the filling.
Press the edges together to seal. Fold the bottom dough flap like you would an envelope and press to seal.
Cook's Note: In the end each samosa should look like a fat guy on a couch and be sitting on it's bottom!
Place on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining ingredients until all samosas are formed.
In a deep pot, heat 3" depth of oil to 350 deg. F. If you don't have a candy thermometer drop a small piece of dough into the oil and it should immediately sizzle and rise to the top. if not, the oil is not hot enough.
Add the samosas in batches and turning constantly with a slotted spoon until a uniform light golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a platter lined with paper towels.
Serve hot with hari (green chutney), sweet tamarind chutney and chai.