Samosa will always have a place close to my heart. As a baby vegan, before I knew how to cook anything more complicated than plain pasta, frozen foods were my saving grace. One of my favorites was a frozen samosa wrap, an American-Indian mashup of a beloved potato pastry. Gently spiced, golden mashed potatoes gleamed from within a whole wheat tortilla, dotted with tender green peas for an ideal toothsome bite. They could be eaten toasted, microwaved, or simply thawed, which suited my haphazard meal planning perfectly. Though not the most authentic introduction, it opened my eyes to the rich world of flavors unlocked by Indian cuisine.
From that time on, samosas were always my safe food when eating out. When friends or family wanted their tikka masala or tandori, I knew I could count on the humble spud to fill buttery fried pastries, and in turn, my stomach. Little did I know that the original samosas, introduced to the Indian subcontinent around the 13th century by traders from Central Asia, had nothing to do with the starchy staple. In fact, the original samosa was stuffed primarily with sauteed onions, ground meat, peas, spices, and herbs. Sometimes pistachios, almonds, or chickpeas might enter the picture as a nod to their middle eastern inspiration, but there was not a single potato to be found.
Wondering what I might have been missing all those years, I was curious to get a taste of this protein-packed variant. It would be easy enough to take a traditional recipe and swap in a hyper-realistic vegan beef substitute, but I prefer to start from scratch. Naturally, I’m building the flavor foundation with Sugimoto shiitake, minced finely to approximate the rich, savory flavor and chewy texture of minced meat. Crumbled tempeh carries that flavor with an equally umami, fermented base.
Building those layers of nuanced, harmonious, and craveable flavors starts with tempering spices according to Indian tradition, but certainly doesn’t end there. Japanese ingredients like soy sauce and shiitake create a truly irresistible taste sensation. Folded into flaky pastry triangles, there’s no better snack, starter, or entree around.
How can you make quick and easy samosa?
If you’re daunted by pastry dough, don’t worry. There are plenty of quick-fix solutions for that outer wrapping, such as:
- Phyllo dough
- Puff pastry
- Pie dough
- Spring roll wrappers
- Burrito-sized flour tortillas
Alternately, you don’t need to create a crispy outer layer to contain all that meaty goodness in the first place. Other uses for the filling sans pastry are:
- Bun samosa (sandwiched between fluffy hamburger or slider buns)
- Pizza topping
- Chip dip
- Bolognese sauce
Want to make a healthier samosa?
Though they’re traditionally deep-fried, I like to pan-fry or shallow fry mine. You can easily cut down on the added oil and fat even further.
- Air fry at 370 degrees for 15 minutes, flipping after 10 minutes, until crispy and browned on both sides.
- Bake in a conventional oven preheated to 400 degrees for 20 – 30 minutes, flipping halfway through, until golden brown.
How can you serve samosa?
Like any properly constructed hand pie, samosa are designed to be eaten out of hand. Though brilliantly flavorful as is, it never hurts to add a simple dipping sauce, especially as a cooling temperature contrast to the hot pastry. My favorite options include:
If you’d like to create a well-rounded plated meal with samosa as the centerpiece, that’s a snap, too! Just add one or more sides:
While the younger me might be horrified at the distinct lack of potato content, the older and wiser me knows better. Amplified by the natural umami of Sugimoto shiitake mushrooms, this is my new go-to comfort food. Being homemade gives it the edge over store-bought frozen options, no doubt, but the concept itself transcends such a simplistic view. Once you taste bite through that flaky, crisp pastry and tear into that decadently moist, meaty beefless filling, sparkling with a vibrant palate of bright spices, you’ll understand why it’s the staple food that changed Indian cuisine as we know it today.
- 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Turmeric
- 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- 1/4 Cup Coconut Oil or Vegan Butter, Melted
- 1/2 Cup Warm Water
- 3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
- 2 Carrots, Peeled and Finely Diced
- 1/2 Large Red Onion, Diced
- 1 - 2 Jalapeño or Serrano Peppers, Seeded and Minced
- 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 1/2 Teaspoon Whole Cumin Seeds
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
- 1/2 Teaspoon Kashmiri Chili Powder or Paprika
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Turmeric
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 (8-Ounce) Package Tempeh, Crumbled
- 1 Cup Soaked Shiitake Mushroom Stems and/or Caps, Minced
- 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
- 1 Tablespoon Garam Masala
- 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 Cup Frozen Green Peas
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Mint, Minced
- Neutral Vegetable Oil
- To make the pastry dough, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, turmeric, and pepper in a large bowl. Slowly pour in the oil and water while mixing with a sturdy wooden spoon. Once it becomes too stiff to stir easily, knead by hand until the dough is smooth. If the air is very dry, you may need to add another splash of water. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the filling by placing the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the carrots, onion, peppers, and garlic, sauteing into softened an aromatic; 5 - 8 minutes. Add the cumin seeds, ginger, chili powder, turmeric, and salt and cook for another minute.
- Turn down the heat and add the tempeh, using your spatula to break up any remaining large pieces. Incorporate the minced shiitake, soy sauce, and lemon juice, stirring well. Saute for another 10 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.
- Add the garam masala and cinnamon, mixing well, then immediately remove from heat. Stir in the peas, allowing them to thaw from the residual heat, followed by the mint. Transfer the filling to a separate bowl and let cool to room temperature.
- When you're ready to assemble the samosas, lightly dust a clean surface with flour. Take your rested dough and cut it into 6 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll it into a ball and then use a rolling pin to flatten it into a even circle, about 7 - 8 inches in diameter. Use a sharp knife to cut it into half; you now have two half moons.
- Take one half and roll it into a cone, lightly moistening the edge with water and pressing the edges to seal. Stuff with 3 - 4 tablespoons of the filling, pressing down gently. Moisten the bottom edges and fold them over, pressing them together to create a neat little pyramid. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Cover the finished samosa with a clean kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out.
- To cool, heat at least 1 inch of oil to shallow fry, or 2 - 3 inches of oil to deep fry, using a heavy, high-sided pan set over medium heat. Add 2 - 3 samosa at a time, being careful not to crowd the pan. Fry for 3 - 5 minutes on each side, flipping as needed, until golden brown all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
- Alternately, you can lightly spray the samosa with a thin coating of oil and air fry at 370 degrees for 15 minutes, flipping after 10 minutes, until crispy and browned on both sides. In a conventional oven, bake at 400 degrees for 20 - 30 minutes, flipping halfway through, until golden brown.
- Serve hot!
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 191Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 354mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 4g
All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.