I’ve introduced many diners to Indian food and I’ve always found that one of the best ways to initiate those unfamiliar with Indian cuisine is to offer up some appetizers.
Of all Indian appetizers, samosas are possibly the most popular. Fried savory pastries stuffed with a spicy vegetable filling, or sometimes a meat filling, samosas can be found on the menu in every North Indian restaurant. A combination of potatoes, cauliflower, carrots or green peas is often the favorite choice for the filling. Typically served as an appetizer along with coriander or tamarind chutneys, samosas can also make for a fine small entrée.
It’s actually been quite a number of years since I’ve gone to the trouble of making homemade samosas, but I wanted to indulge one of my frequent cravings for Indian appetizers with a baked version. I admit to enjoying many restaurant samosas, but I’m less inclined to want to eat greasy foods than I used to be. I’m also less inclined to eat large portions before dinner too, and many of the restaurant samosas are a bit more samosa than I want before dinner. I’m a fan of little bites — they’re a great way to serve an appetizer without stuffing your diners before the main entrée.
So coming up with baked mini samosas was just the way to satisfy both my appetite and my interest in experimenting in the kitchen. I consider potatoes and green peas to be the classic vegetable ingredients for a samosa stuffing, but I filled out this combination with some diced carrot and plump tender chickpeas in addition to the Indian spices. Served with a classic restaurant-style tamarind chutney, these were a big hit.
These did take a while to make, I admit. The filling is a snap and the dough is easy to work with, but it’s a bit of a fussy process to shape the samosas. But the process becomes faster with a little practice, and by the end of the batch the samosa were flying on to the baking sheet. The effort was worth every bite.
Baked Mini Vegetable Chickpea Samosas
Recipe by Lisa Turner Cuisine: Indian Published on October 13, 2015
Homemade baked mini samosas with a spicy potato, pea and chickpea filling
2 medium potatoes, roasted or boiled until just tender and diced
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
To make the pastry, whisk together the flours, cornstarch, baking soda, cumin, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Rub the olive oil into the mixture with your hands. Gradually add the water to the flour mixture, mixing it in with a fork until a dough forms. Add more water if necessary. Knead for a minute or two until a soft dough is formed. Shape into a ball, brush with a bit of olive oil, and cover in plastic wrap. Let rest for 30 to 60 minutes.
To make the filling, heat the oil over medium heat in a large non-stick skillet. When hot, add the cumin and fennel seeds and stir for a minute or until the seeds have darkened a few shades and become fragrant. Toss in the garlic, ginger and chilies and fry, stirring often, for another minute or two. Stir in the turmeric, coriander, garam masala, chat masala, cayenne and asafetida, and cook for another minute. Add the tomato and lemon juice and cook for another few minutes. Stir in the carrot and peas and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas, potato and salt and cook, stirring often, for another 5 minutes. Finally, stir in the cilantro, remove from the heat, and let cool to room temperature.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour some water into a small bowl. Gently knead the dough a few times and then divide the dough into 8 small balls. Make sure to keep the dough balls covered while you work with each one.
On a lightly floured board, roll out a round into a 6-inch oval shape. Cut the oval into half circles. Fold a half circle into a cone shape, moisten the edges of the cone with a dab of water, and gently press the edges together. Scoop 1 tablespoon of the filling into the cone, taking care not to overstuff the pastry, and fold the top over. Moisten the edges with a dab of water and lightly pinchi the edges together. Transfer each piece of stuffed dough onto the prepared pan. Keep the unbaked samosas covered with a clean kitchen towel so the pastry does not dry out.
Bake the samosas in a preheated 375° oven for 20 to 25 minutes until golden. Serve with your favorite chutney.
Wrap leftovers in foil and reheat in a 300° oven for 10 minutes.