Savory filled pastries of Indian origin are an everyday food in much of southern Africa and are a common feature of east African cuisine as well. Although they are excellent party food, several of them can make a meal. Choose either meat or vegetable fillings, and make your own pastry or use purchased egg roll dough. Although this recipe is lengthy because the descriptions are somewhat complex, samoosas are not difficult to prepare. Amounts given here make about 2 dozen.



2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated or 1 tsp. ground ginger

3 small cloves garlic

1 lb. ground lamb or ground beef

2 large onions, thinly sliced

1 tblsp. ghurum masala

1 tsp. salt

oil, if needed



3 medium potatoes

2 carrots

1 cup fresh green peas or 1 8-oz. package frozen peas

2 - 3 tblsp. oil or clarified butter

1 cup onions, finely chopped

2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated or ½ tsp. ground ginger

2 large cloves garlic, crushed

½ tsp. coriander seeds, crushed

2 tblsp. fresh coriander, finely chopped (optional)

2 tsp. lemon juice



2 cups unbleached flour

¾ tsp. salt

1 ½ tblsp. oil or clarified butter

½ - ¾ cup water


For meat filling: Crush ginger and garlic with a mortar and pestle. Combine all ingredients in a large skillet and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Add a bit of oil if meat is too lean to grease the pan. When meat is well browned, drain off any excess fat. Set aside.

For vegetable filling: Peel potatoes or don’t, as you wish. Boil potatoes and carrots until both are soft but still firm. Cut into small cubes about ½-inch square. In a separate pot, cook peas just until tender. Meanwhile, heat oil or butter until a test onion sputters upon contact with it. Add onions, ginger, garlic and coriander and sauté 6 or 8 minutes, stirring constantly. Mix in the lemon juice and the cooked vegetables, gently adding peas last. Heat through, then set aside.

For pastry: Sift flour and salt together. Make a well in the center of the mixture and quickly pour in oil and water. Stir briskly until combined, gradually adding more water if necessary. You should aim for a slightly moist dough that sticks together. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover with a damp towel.

To assemble samoosas, break off pieces of dough (leaving what’s left under the towel) and shape into balls. Roll each ball into a circle about 1/16 of an inch thick and 5 inches across. Cut the circle in half. On one side of one half-circle put a heaping tablespoon of filling. Fold the other side of the same half-circle over the filling to make a triangle. Seal by brushing a bit of water along the edges and pinching them together with your fingers. Repeat with the other half-circle, and continue in the same fashion until all the dough and filling are used.

Deep-fat fry the samoosas, or heat 2 inches of oil in a large skillet to a temperature of 375°F. Fry each samosa until golden brown and crisp on each side. Drain on a clean, absorbent cloth or on paper towels.

Pastry variation: Buy a pound of spring roll or egg roll pastry. Separate the pieces, which will be about 6 inches square, and cut each one in half so that you have pieces that are about 6 inches long and 3 inches wide. To make the samoosas, imagine the top 3 inches as a square that you will fold in half along its diagonal. But first, on the lowr corner of the square, put a spoonful of filling. Fold top half down over the filling diagonally, so that the top of your strip is now a triangle. Then fold this triangle over the next section of the strip so that you have a square. Finally, fold once again along the diagonal so that you end with a multi-layered triangle. Seal the edges and cook as described in the pastry instructions.


Makes 24


area : Southern Africa

course : starter


source : The Africa News Cookbook : African Cooking for Western Kitchens / Tami Hultman