Dumplings are an obsession with us. Steamed, fried, baked. Asian, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, Mexican. We love dumplings. It shouldn’t therefore come as a surprise that, at some point in her cooking experiments, Alex would venture into making dumplings. She did two initial experiments, acquainting herself with the feeling of dough in her hands, and after I saw how the process excited her, I handed her my copy of Andrea Nguyen’s Asian Dumplings: Mastering Gyoza, Spring Rolls, Samosas, and More. She pored over the recipes, watched several tutorials on Youtube and, a few days later, she cooked samosas.
Alex’s first attempt at making samosas was a resounding success. The crust was so flaky that it was such a pleasure biting into the dumplings. And the crust stayed flaky even after the samosas had cooled. Twelve hours later, I ate the last piece, the surface of the crust was still crisp although, overall, the samosas was nowhere near as good as when they were still hot. But — get this — twelve hours later, the crust was still crust-y and had none of that bread-y texture. What an achievement!
In one of the Youtube videos she watched, Alex said that the Indian cook mentioned that well-made samosa crust does not form bubbles during frying. I scrutinized Alex’s samosas and not a bubble in the crust.
We’ll never buy samosas from Assad Mini Mart ever again — not when Alex’s version was ten times better. As ultimate proof of just how good they were, vegetarian Sam who’s always critical of badly cooked and executed (and even haphazardly plated) food ate her share with no comment. Wow, that is quite an endorsement!
But what’s samosa without chutney, right? Well, Alex made chutney using caramelized onion, spices and a few surprising ingredients. It was wonderful.
The recipes for the crust, filling and chutney are given below separately. Based on the recipes in Asian Dumplings: Mastering Gyoza, Spring Rolls, Samosas, and More.
Flaky crust for samosas
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening (the solid kind, available in groceries and baking supply stores)
- 1/4 cup water
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.
Cut the shortening into small pieces and add to the flour mixture.
Using your fingers, rub the shortening with the flour mixture until the texture resembles uncooked oatmeal.
Pour in the water, a third at a time, while mixing the dough with your hand. When all the water has been poured in, gather the dough into a ball and transfer to the work surface. Knead for five minutes until lightly elastic.
Wrap in cling film and leave to rest at room temperature for at least half an hour.
Spicy potato samosa filling
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons palm oil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
- potatoes peeled, boiled and cooled potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch cubes to measure 1 and 1/2 cups
- 1/3 cup fresh peas (completely thawed, if frozen)
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
- generous pinch cracked black pepper
- salt to taste
Heat a frying pan. Dry fry the coriander seeds until fragrant. Cool and pound using a mortar and pestle.
Heat the palm oil in the frying pan. Saute the onion with the coriander seeds, cumin and ginger powders until the onion bits are softened.
Add the potato cubes. Cook over high heat until the potato cubes are lightly browned in parts.
Off the heat, stir in the peas.
Season the filling with cayenne, pepper and salt. Cool before forming the samosas.
Spicy samosas with the flakiest crust
- 1 recipe for samosa crust
- 1 recipe for spicy potato filling
- 2 to 3 cups cooking oil for deep frying
Unwrap the dough and form into a log. Cut into six equal portions.
Using a rolling pin, flatten a portion of the dough into a circle about a quarter of an inch thick. Cut into halves. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Form each half circle of dough into a cone and fill with about two tablespoons of the spicy potato. Follow the instructions in this video (it's not ours but it's illustrative -- note though that the cook in that video used different ingredients and I'm just linking to it for the procedure for filling and wrapping the samosas).
Heat the palm oil in a wok to 320F. The heat is lower than the normal frying temperature of 350F.
Fry the samosas in batches taking care never to overcrowd the pan (unlike the video guy) at any point.
The samosas are done when they are golden brown.
Serve the samosas with Alex's caramelized onion chutney (recipe below).
Alex's caramelized onion chutney
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- pinch of rock salt
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons rice wine
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
Heat the butter. Add the onion, rosemary, salt, sugars, cinnamon stick and bay leaf and cook over medium meat for about a minute. Cover the pan, set the heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes until the onion pieces are very soft. Stir once in a while.
Stir in the rice wine and vinegar. Cover the pan once more. When the mixture is simmering, you can press the onion bits with the back of a spoon against the pan to help liquefy them. Simmer for five minutes.
Add the chili powder and balsamic. Stir. Turn off the heat. Cool the chutney. Fish out the cinnamon stick and bay leaf before serving.
If you want a smooth chutney, you can pulse it in the blender after it has cooled.