It wasn’t until later in life that I discovered Indian food. It’s not a surprise as I grew up in rural Vermont and rural Indiana. Neither of them known for their diverse ethnic cuisines, especially back then. It wasn’t until I had moved to NYC that I got my first taste of real Indian food. I was instantly hooked, but it wasn’t until culinary school and my travels aftewards that I really came to truly appreciate the complex flavors and spicing of the dishes. One of the first things I fell in love with are Samosas, those puffy triangles of fried dough filled with an aromatic filling of spices and, most often vegetables.

Samosas are another great “gateway” food for those interested in trying Indian cuisine. First off, its a fried dumpling, and what red blooded American doesn’t love something stuffed into dough and deep fried. Secondly, although filled with a highly aromatic filling, the spicing isn’t overly exotic or terribly hot.

One of the best things about these samosas is the fact that they don’t require any special spices or ingredients. While I usually shy away from curry powder when cooking Indian food, I really like the flavor of it in my samosas. While the samosas, themselves, do not require any special ingredients, the chutney I usually serve with them does. I like to serve a Tamarind chutney with them. The sweet tart flavor really goes well with them although there are many other chutneys that would work just as well, so if you don’t feel like hunting down tamarind concentrate (which shouldn’t be too hard nowadays) you can always find another recipe to use, or even pick up a bottle of mango chuntey at the store. You can find Major Grey’s in most larger supermarkets.

Since the samosas do take a little bit of work, I like to make the Tamarind chutney the day before. Besides, I think it is better the second day as the flavors have had a chance to meld and mature.

Tamarind Chutney
makes about 1 1/2 cups

3 Tbs. tamarind concentrate
2 cups water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cumin seed
1 tsp. fennel seed
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. Ajwain seed (optional)
1/2 cup golden raisins (regular raisins can be substituted)

In a medium sized saucepan, over medium heat, toast the cumin, fennel, cayenne and ajwain, just to the point of starting to brown (do not allow to burn). Add the water, tamarind concentrate, and raisins. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Puree and cook 5 minutes longer. Season with a little salt and then chill for at least 1 hour, or better yet, overnight before serving.

makes 24

2 large potatoes, peeled and diced 1/4″
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
1 cup peas, frozen, thawed
3 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
2 Tbs. ghee or butter
salt & pepper

8 ozw. flour
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1/3 cup water (or more as needed)

To make the filling, heat the ghee in a large saute pan. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, not allowing them to brown. Add the curry powder and cumin seed. Cook 1 minute longer then add the potatoes and enough water to just barely cover them. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove cover, add peas and continue to cook until the potatoes are just starting to fall apart and all the water has evaporated.

Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and chill thoroughly before shaping samosas.

Make the dough, by combining all the ingredients, using 1/3 cup of water. Add more water as necessary, to make s soft and slightly sticky dough. Knead dough for 5 minutes during which the dough should lose most of its stickiness. Wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Once rested, cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Working on a lightly floured surface and working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll dough out to a circle about 6″ in diameter. Cut in half. Place 1 1/2-2 Tbs. of filling on each half.

Brush edges with a little water and fold dough over the filling to form a cone, with the tip on the straight side and the opening of the cone on the curved edge. Continue to fold the dough over, then pinch the opened edge (along the curved side) closed, forming a rough triangle.

Keep the samosas covered with a lightly dampened cloth as you make the others. While forming the samosas, fill a pot with about 2-3 inches of oil and bring to 350°F. Fry a couple of samosas at a time, careful not to overcrowd your pan and lower the oil temperature. Fry for about 3 minutes on each side or until a deep golden brown. Drain on paper towel and immediately sprinkle with salt while still hot. Serve immediately with tamarind chutney or dipping sauce of your choice.