Deliciously crispy vegan samosas filled with fluffy aloo (potatoes) and matar (green peas) are the perfect golden snacks to dip in sauces or to accompany your chai.
What are samosas?
Samosas are one of India's famous street food snacks. They are crispy golden triangular pastries that can be stuffed with almost anything. The most famous type of samosa in the United States is the Punjabi style samosa. This style of samosa is filled with aloo matar or potato and peas which is naturally vegan.
Shortcrust method for making samosa dough
The key to great samosas relies on a technique called the shortcrust method. This technique involves on working fat into the flour until the flour is coated in the fat. The shortcrust method is often used in American pastries to make desserts like pie. In pie, the pieces of butter create flaky layers. This is as a result of the large pockets of fat melting and releasing steam.
For samosas, vegetable oil is streamed and rubbed into the flour creating a sandy texture. This step creates tiny pockets of fat in the dough that turn into crispy bubbles on the surface of the samosas. Working the oil into the flour also inhibits gluten formation in the dough. Th allows the samosa dough to be easily rolled and more tender when eaten.
Tips for getting a crispy samosa
The enemy of any crispy food is water. Here are tips to decrease the amount of water in samosas.
- Don't add too much water to the dough. The samosa dough is supposed to be a stiff dough. The visual indicators you should look for is a tight dough that doesn't have dry flour patches remaining. Don't worry, the recipe below includes exact measurements for the water to add. However, even with those measurements it is important to understand that each brand of flour absorbs water differently. So make sure to always rely on your visual indicators.
- Minimize the liquid in the samosa filling. For aloo matar samosas this means that you should thaw the peas before using it in the filling. In addition you can place a paper napkin to absorb excess moisture from the boiled potatoes.
- Cool the filling before stuffing. If you are cooking a filling, it is important to allow the filling to completely cool. For this recipe, the boiled potatoes should be at room temperature otherwise it will create condensation inside the samosa.
- Use shortcrust method while making samosa pastry. This method ensures tiny crunchy surface bubbles as well as reduce the amount of water the flour absorbs.
- Fry samosas low and slow. Fry the samosas on low heat at 325F for 8-10 minutes to fully allow the samosa dough to cook through. This slow cooking time helps the samosa loose its moisture it may have. Trying to take the shortcut and frying quickly will result in the uncooked dough on the inside of the samosa. If the samosas don't achieve a golden color by ~8 minutes, then the temperature can be turned up to 350F to get a beautiful golden exterior.
How to ensure samosa and filling stays intact while frying?
One of the biggest issues beginners have with making samosas is folding them so they are secure. I've taught many samosa making classes where samosas explode in the fryer because they weren't folded properly. So here are my tips so this doesn't happen to you.
- Less is more! Remember that less filling is often better if you are not confident in your folding techniques. Over stuffing your samosas can make them really hard to close. The samosas also expand in the fryer the seam can come undone. So repeat after me, "less is more".
- Overlap the seams. It is helpful to overlap the edges of the samosa as you fold them. Overlapping them ensures that there aren't any holes where oil can come in contact with the filling.
- Use pressure to seal edges. One mistake beginners make when making samosas is they don't apply enough pressure to seal the seams together. Use a pinching motion with your index finger and thumb to helps get a tight seal.
- Use water to help create a tight seal. Dip your index finger in water and run it along the edges of the dough. This helps the dough stick to itself and creates a tight seal.
Samosa without frying
This vegan aloo matar samosa can be baked in an oven or in an air fryer at 350F for ~30-35 minutes. Note that there will be a considerable difference in how the samosas look and taste when fried vs. baked. The main difference is that the baked samosas don't have as light an airy crust as they don't form the exterior air bubbles that fried samosas have. In addition, baked samosas can often be unevenly browned due to the lack of oil. However, this can be mitigated by spraying oil on the samosas during the baking process. Here is a photo to illustrate the side by side of the samosas fried vs. baked.
My favorite way to enjoy samosas without frying is to make my recipe for oven baked samosa pot pie. This recipe uses a pie dough crust that becomes super flaky in the oven. This recipe uses an all butter pie dough that contains ajwain/carom seeds. However, the dough can easily be swapped with store bought vegan puff pastry which you can roll ajwain seeds onto. In addition, the pie is great for family gatherings or potlucks as a statement dish!
Freezing and reheating samosas
I love making a large batch of samosas and saving them as future snacks or party appetizers. You can either freeze the samosas before frying or freeze them when un-fried. Both of these methods work great! It is best to freeze the samosas in a single layer on a sheet tray until frozen solid before compacting them into a smaller container to ensure they don't stick together.
The best way to reheat cooked samosas are in the oven or air fryer at 325F for 5-6 minutes to allow for the exterior dough to crisp back up and also give enough time for the samosas to warm through on the inside. This time range will increase if the samosas were frozen. You can also use a microwave but the steam that this creates often makes the exterior soft.
What to eat samosas with
Sauces that Pair Perfectly With Samosas
Good dipping sauces are key when it comes to eating samosas. I personally love the classics which are spicy cilantro-mint chutney or a sweet and tangy tamarind sauce. Checkout the blog posts for each of these chutneys to find the recipes to make at home as well as recommendations on where to purchase them. Another two store-bought sauces that you should checkout are Maggi Hot and Sweet Sauce as well as Brooklyn Delhi's Spicy Mango Chutney which make great saucy, sweet, and spicy additions.
Samosas and Chai
Samoas are the perfect afternoon snack and especially tasty to have to accompany your afternoon chai. I especially love a masala chai or Indian spiced tea which pairs perfectly with the samosas. Better yet, throw an Indian chai party with samosas and many other desi treats!
Frequently Asked Questions
Make samosa pastry by using the shortcrust method. This involves rubbing a fat into flour before adding water to create a stiff dough. Ajwain or carom seeds are what gives the pastry a nutty depth of flavor. You can checkout the full recipe below.
Roll an oval with a dou Using a bit of water to help seal the samosas is useful when it comes to folding samosas.
You can fill a samosa with almost anything. The key is to cook and cool the filling before putting it in the samosa. It is also important to have a filling that has minimal water or moisture to allow for a crispy samoas.
It depends on what the filling is. Most samosas doughs are naturally vegan however the filling is usually what determines if the samosa is vegan. Generally potato and peas samosas which are the most popular variety in the United States are vegan.
A sweet and sour tamarind date chutney or a spicy herbaceous cilantro and mint chutney are the two classic dipping sauces for samosas. Maggi hot and sweet chutney as well as Brooklyn Delhi's Spicy Mango Chutney are also great accompaniments.
Chai and samosas are a match made in heaven. In addition, samosas are a great addition to an Indian chai party. You can checkout ideas on how to create recipes to host one here.
Yes, you can bake or air fry samosas in the oven at 350 Fahrenheit for ~30 minutes. Make sure to check on them at the half way point. Another alternative is to make my oven baked samosa pot pie recipe which leads to a flaky and crispy crust without needing to fry samosas.
It is important to limit the amount of water in the dough and filling. In addition, you should fry the samosas on low heat for a long time to rid the samosa of the excess moisture. Lastly, using the shortcrust method leads to exterior bubbles on the samosa skin which yields in a crispier samosa.
It is important not to overstuff the samosas so you can properly seal the samosa shut. It helps to overlap the samosa dough slightly to ensure that the edges remains shut. In addition, using a slight amount of water helps ensure a secure seal.
Yes! You can freeze samosas once they are folded. You can be freeze them before or after being fried. Make sure to tightly wrap and freeze them in a single layer before compacting them into a smaller container to ensure that they don't stick.
Samosas can last in the freezer for upwards of 6 months. Samosas in the fridge last between 3-5 days.
You can easily find ajwain seeds at American grocery stores as carom seeds. Alternatively, you can buy them online or at your local Indian store.
You can substitute cumin seeds in place of ajwain seeds.
The best way to reheat cooked samosas are in the oven or air fryer at 325F for 5-6 minutes to allow for the exterior dough to crisp back up and also give enough time for the samosas to warm through on the inside. This timing will be greater if the samosas were frozen.