Crispy, triangle shaped pastries are filled with ground beef and lively pine nuts and then fried. Serve with a side of mint chutney, as a soup accompaniment, or enjoy on their own.
By Sarah Khanna
At many oriental iftar buffets and at homes of friends from the Levant, I’d spot these little lovelies, shiny skinned and crisp to the tooth, next to others — soft half moons and the doughy tetrahedrons, sported in many contrasting pastry crusts and fleshy fillings to suit the various cravings of those breaking their fast. Believed to have originated in Central Asia before the 10th century, the Uzbeks still call it somsa, similar to its original name, samsa. Similar to the pasties that were eaten by tin miners in Cornwall for their easy handling, samosas were also thought to be injected into Indian culture by the Muslim traders and soldiers who carried them in saddlebags on long journeys after preparing them, many at a time, during their rest stops. This is a simple recipe, given that you’re fine with the heat of frying. In essence, all you need to do is begin preparing early, make large quantities at a time and freeze them in between layers of baking paper to avoid them sticking to one another as they love to do.
- 30-35 samosa wrappers
- 1 Pound (500 grams) ground beef
- 1 large onion
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, depending on strength
- ¼ cup of beef stock
- ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon of cumin
- ¼ cup of pine nuts
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 large egg + 1 teaspoon of flour, beaten to make a paste
- Keep the samosa wrappers covered with a damp towel while preparing the beef to keep them soft.
- In a large pan on medium-high heat, add the onions and garlic until fragrant and translucent then the ground beef.
- Stir the beef into the onions and garlic until combined then cook, stirring every few minutes, until browned.
- Add the cinnamon, cumin, salt and pepper and mix then pour in the beef stock and stir in the pine nuts.
- Lower your heat and leave to cook until the stock has been absorbed.
- Turn off your heat and leave to cool.
- At the bottom of each samosa pastry strip, brush the bottom of the side closest to you with egg wash then fold over the pastry from the opposite corner to create an open-sided triangle.
- Spoon some of the beef filling (1 full teaspoon to 1½ teaspoons) into the pocket you’ve created. Tuck the filling into the pocket and fold it over more than once until you reach the end of the wrapper.
- Before sealing, tuck in any protruding samosa paper then seal the edge by brushing with egg wash.
- Repeat with the rest of the wrappers.
- Freeze the ones you won’t fry for later at this stage.
- Deep fry in hot vegetable oil (not olive oil) for a minute then remove when golden and crispy. Do not crowd your oil with samosas to allow each one adequate space.
- Drain well from the oil before serving.
Sarah Khanna is the half-Egyptian, half-Indian author behind Buttered-up.com who quit her Cairene career in advertising to become a full time cook, writer and photographer in Kuala Lumpur. She is also a weekly food columnist for the Daily News Egypt where she critiques Arab food culture. Raised as a hotel brat, Sarah has moved frequently but considers Egypt to be her real home. She loves butter and knives and shudders at the sight of canned tuna.