Traditional Indian samosa with a little herby twist. Beautifully crisp pastry surrounding a mouthwatering filling of spiced potatoes, peas, and mint with an optional, but delicious, tangy raita. These golden parcels are fragrant, full of flavour, spicy, and deeply satisfying.
I would need far more space than this blog post would allow to fully express my love of samosas, but suffice to say it is real and profound. I’ve often made them using filo pastry, as a quick route to flaky, crisp pastry that doesn’t require deep frying, but since trying the more traditional version I would never go back. The rewards of a little dough mixing and rolling are so far in excess of the additional effort, it makes me wonder why it’s not done all the time.
Something that put me off trying this method was the deep-frying. It’s not at all difficult and I would really recommend it for ultimate crispiness and flavour, but you can also bake these in the oven if deep frying really isn’t your thing. Similarly, air-frying is also an option, but either way, you’ll need to brush the samosa in plenty of oil before cooking.
The filling for these samosa is a slightly simplified version of a traditional vegetable samosa filling. Potatoes, peas, and onions form the bulk, and the addition of some fresh mint adds a lovely lift. Many recipes call for a ling list of spices, but I’ve gone for the easy option; the Indian holy trinity of ginger, garlic, and chilli, and a generous amount of curry powder.
How to make pea and mint samosas
It’s best to start with the dough, so it can rest while you make the filling. Mix together the flour, salt, and ajwain seeds (or nigella seeds), then pour in the oil. Rub the oil into the flour, as if you were making short-crust pastry. You want to spend a bit of time on this – at least a couple of minutes – so that the oil is fully incorporated into the flour. Then add the water and mix with your hands until the dough just comes together. If it falls apart or there’s still unincorporated flour after mixing, add a splash more water, as little as you can get away with. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside for 30–40 minutes.
Scrub the potatoes clean, then dice them into 1–2 cm cubes. You can peel them if you like, but I don’t bother – there’s lots of nutrients in the skins and it doesn’t affect the final texture. Add to a pan with plenty of water, some salt, and half of the fresh mint. Bring to the boil, simmer for 5 minutes, then check with a fork and every minute thereafter until they are tender. Measure the peas into a heat proof bowl or saucepan, and drain the potatoes over the peas so the hot water defrosts them. Discard the mint and set the potatoes aside.
While the potatoes are cooking, put a large frying pan over a medium heat with a few tablespoons of oil. Finely dice an onion and add to the pan once the oil is hot. Fry for 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and starting to brown, and in the meantime, mince the garlic and ginger, and finely slice a finger chilli. Add the aromatics to the pan once the onions have had their 10 minutes, and stir fry for 2 minutes, being careful that the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the curry powder and stir for 30 seconds, then add the potatoes, drained peas, and salt.
Thoroughly mix the filling until the potatoes have taken on the glorious golden yellow of the turmeric in the curry powder. Crush the potatoes slightly with your spatula, or mash a few times with a potato masher. You’re not aiming for mash; you still want plenty of texture, but the crushed potato will help the mixture stick together and you want to avoid any large chunks of potato. Add the lemon juice and a tablespoon of two of water, and mix, adding a little more water if your potatoes are particularly floury and dry. Taste to check the seasoning, then remove from the heat. Finely chop the remaining fresh mint, and stir through the filling mixture.
Now is probably a good time to put your oil on for deep-frying. The key to perfectly crisp and thoroughly cooked samosa is low and slow. I use a cast iron dish which takes a long time to heat up and longer to cool down, so I heat it on a low heat and ensure that the oil doesn’t get too hot. If you have a deep-fat fryer or are using a standard saucepan it may take significantly less time, again use a low heat and keep your eye on it. A kitchen thermometer is very helpful – you want the oil to be at around 160C for frying, and 8–10 cm deep to allow the samosa to move around. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the oil with cubes of bread – a cube should take approximately 1 minute to start browning at 160C.
Shaping the Samosa
Once your samosa dough has rested, and the samosa filling is cool enough to handle, it’s on to the the shaping. The dough makes 12 slightly larger, or 14 slightly smaller samosa – I prefer the smaller ones, only because I can justify eating more of them. Put a little water in a small bowl or cup and split your dough into 6 or 7 equal sized pieces, leaving all but the one you are rolling out under the damp cloth. You shouldn’t need flour, but you can oil the rolling pin to avoid sticking.
Roll each piece of dough into a long oval shape, about 3mm thick, then cut in two across the width. For each half of dough, take the corners of the cut edge and fold them into the middle of the curved edge so the edges overlap slightly. Use a little water to stick the cut edges together, so you have a triangle shape, and the curved edge is open to create a cone.
Hold the cone point down, between your thumb and forefinger. Stuff the cone with the samosa filling, ensuring it reaches right down to the point, and so there’s a centimeter or so of dough left around the edge at the open end. You don’t want to overfill the samosa to the point that you stretch the dough, but you still want a generous amount; an underfilled samosa is a sad samosa as the saying goes (which I’ve just made up right now).
Finally, moisten half of the inner rim of the cone, and press together to make a nice tight seal. Set aside on a plate and cover with a clean tea towel, while you repeat with the rest of the dough.
Cooking the samosa
For deep frying, gently drop the samosa into the pan, once your oil has reached 160C. It’s important not to crowd the pan, as it will prevent the samosa from cooking properly, so don’t cook more than can fry in a single layer at any one time. My pan was about 22cm across and I could just about do 6 at a time. Move the samosa around after a minute or so, ensuring they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan, and cook for 10–12 minutes, until they are a beautiful golden brown. You may need to turn the heat up at little at the end if the samosa aren’t colouring much. Once done, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper.
To oven cook, pre-heat the oven to 170C fan, brush the samosa with oil, and bake for 30–35 minutes until golden brown. You won’t get nearly the same level of delectable crispiness or flavour, but you’ll still have a decent samosa.
Finally, while the samosa are cooking, make the chutney. You can use any chutney you like; mango chutney would go well, or a lime pickle, and I have a recipe for a cooling mint and cucumber raita here. However the mint raita recipe I offer below is wonderfully vibrant, zingy, and a doddle to make. Simply toast a few cumin seeds in a dry pan, then add them to a high-speed blender or food processor along with the rest of the ingredients; fresh mint and coriander, garlic, ginger, a deseeded finger chilli, coconut yogurt (or other non-dairy yogurt), salt, sugar and lemon juice. Whizz until you have a smooth and gloriously green dipping sauce.
Please let me know if you give these a try! I’d love to hear how you get on and any feedback is appreciated. You can comment below, use the star rating at the top of the post, or tag me on Instagram or Twitter @greedybearbakes.
Pea And Mint Samosa With A Smooth Mint Raita
Beautifully crisp pastry surrounding a mouthwatering filling of spiced potatoes, peas, and mint with an optional, but delicious, tangy raita.
For the pastry:
- 250g (2 cups) plain white flour
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 tsp ajwain seeds (or nigella seeds)
- 4 tbsp oil (e.g rapeseed, sunflower, light olive, canola)
- 6–7 tbsp water
For the filling:
- 350g (12oz) potatoes, diced
- 20g fresh mint
- 1 tbsp oil
- ½ onion, finely diced
- 1 garlic clove
- 1.5cm ginger
- 1 green finger chilli
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 70g (½ cup) frozen peas
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- oil for deep-frying
For the mint raita (optional*):
- ¼ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 small clove garlic
- 0.5 cm (¼ inch) ginger
- 1 finger chilli, deseeded
- 125g (½ cup) coconut yogurt (or other non-dairy yogurt)
- 20g (½ cup loosely packed) fresh mint
- 5g (⅓ cup loosely packed) fresh coriander, stalks and leaves
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 250g flour, ¾ tsp salt, and 1 tsp ajwain seeds. Pour in 4 tbsp oil, and rub the oil into the flour for 2–3 minutes with your fingertips, until it’s thoroughly distributed. Add 6 tbsp water and mix with your hands, bringing the mixture together into a dough. You want just enough water to make a dough and no more, so only add a drop more water if absolutely necessary. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and set aside for 30–40 minutes.
- For the filling, scrub the potatoes clean and dice into 1–2 cm cubes. Place in a saucepan with ½ tsp salt and half of the fresh mint (10g). Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Check the potatoes with a fork, and then every minute thereafter until they are just tender. Measure 70g frozen peas into a heatproof bowl and drain the potatoes over the peas, so the peas can defrost. Discard the mint and set the drained potatoes aside.
- While the potatoes are cooking, place a large frying pan over a medium heat with a tablespoon of oil. Finely dice half an onion and add to the pan once the oil is hot. Fry for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and starting to brown. Crush or grate 1 clove garlic and 1.5cm ginger, and finely slice a green chilli. After 10 minutes, add these to the onions and stir-fry for 2 minutes, ensuring the garlic doesn’t burn. Then add 2 tsp curry powder, stir for 30 seconds, before adding the potatoes, drained peas, and 1/4 tsp salt.
- Mix the onions and potatoes together, crushing the potatoes slightly with the spatula, or mashing a few times with a potato masher, until the mixture starts to hold together and there aren’t any large chunks of potato. Add 1 tsp lemon juice, and a tablespoon or two of water if the mixture seems a little stiff and dry, then remove from the heat. Finely chop the leaves from the remaining 10g fresh mint, and stir through the potato mixture. Taste and add a little more salt or lemon juice if necessary.
- Put a large heavy-bottomed pan on the hob and fill with enough oil for deep-frying (about 8–10 cm). Place over a low heat – you’re aiming for a temperature of 160C, so keep an eye on it and ensure it doesn’t over-heat. If you don’t have a thermometer, you’re aiming for a cube of bread to start browning in 1 minute. If you prefer to bake your samosa, pre-heat the oven to 170C fan.
- While the oil is heating, shape and fill the samosa. Put a little water in a small bowl and split your dough into 6 or 7 equal pieces (6 for larger samosa or 7 for slightly smaller). Keep all but one piece under the damp cloth, and roll the piece out into a long oval shape. Don’t use flour, but you can oil the rolling pin to prevent sticking. Cut the oval in half across the shorter width, and for each half, fold the corners along the cut edge so they meet at the top of the curved edge. Dab a little water along the outer cut edge of one of the folds, and overlap the other cut edge slightly, pressing down to join them together, forming a cone. Place this between the thumb and forefinger of one hand, using the other to pack the cone with filling, ensuring it reaches right down to the point, and fills the cone until there’s just enough pastry at the end to press together without stretching the dough too much. Dab a little water on the inside of the top of the pastry, and press together, forming a tight seal.
- Place the filled samosa on a plate covered with a clean tea towel, and when the oil temperature has reached 160C, place your first batch in the oil. The number of samosa in each batch will depend on the size of your pan – you don’t want any more than can form a single layer. Gently drop into the oil and move them about after a minute so they don’t stick to the bottom. Cook for 10–12 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are a deep golden brown. You can turn the heat up a little towards the end if the samosa aren’t starting to colour. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with kitchen roll. Repeat with the remaining samosa. If you’re oven cooking, brush the samosa with oil and place on a lined baking tray. Bake for 30–35 minutes until golden brown.
- Make the chutney while the samosa are cooking. Heat a small pan on the hob and toast ¼ tsp cumin seeds for a minute or two until fragrant. Tip the seeds into a high-speed blender or food processer. Peel and roughly chop 1 garlic clove and 0.5 cm ginger, deseed and roughly chop a finger chilli, and add to the cumin seeds along with 125g coconut yogurt, 20g fresh mint (leaves only), 5g coriander (stalks and leaves), 1 tsp lemon juice, ½ tsp sugar, and ¼ tsp salt. Whizz until smooth.
- Allow the samosa to cool for a few minutes then serve with chutney as a starter, side or snack.
*I love this chutney but you can use any you like. Mango chutney would be delicious, as would lime pickle, cucumber raita, or onion chutney. A selection is even better.