The Best Samosas

As much as we love the filling in these samosas, we also must give a big shout-out to the dough. We tried a number of techniques to get that perfect light and crispy texture -- the hallmark of a classic aloo samosa. In the end, we found that a wet dough, when rested long enough to fully hydrate the flour, created steam during frying that yielded crispy, bubbled and puffy samosas.
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  • Level: Advanced
  • Total: 2 hr 40 min
  • Active: 1 hr 40 min
  • Yield: about 6 to 8 servings
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Ingredients

Dough:

3 cups all-purpose flour (see Cook's Note)

2 teaspoons ajawain (optional, see Cook's Note) 

3/4 teaspoon fine salt

9 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more as needed

3/4 cup cold water

Filling:

4 russet potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

Kosher salt, as needed, plus 1 tablespoon

1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped

One 1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

4 cloves garlic

2 small or 1 1/2 medium serrano chile (with seeds), stemmed

3 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons store-bought or homemade ghee or oil, recipe follows

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (see Cook's Note)

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon garam masala (see Cook's Note)

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 cup cooked peas

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Serving suggestion: Tamarind sauce or your favorite chutney

Ghee:

1 pound unsalted butter

Directions

Special equipment:
Cheesecloth, optional
  1. For the dough: Whisk together the flour, ajawain, if using, and the salt. Add the oil and, using your hands, rub it into the flour mixture until fully incorporated. While stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually add the water, until a shaggy dough is formed. Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead until soft and pliable, about 3 minutes. Rub a little oil, about 1 teaspoon, over the dough, place on a plate and cover with a damp towel. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight.
  2. For the filling: Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with cold tap water by about 2 inches, and season with salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, transfer to a medium bowl and set aside to cool slightly. Using a fork, slightly smash the potatoes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small food processor (mini-chopper), combine the onion, ginger, garlic, chiles, and 1 tablespoon water and puree to a paste.
  4. Heat the ghee in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mustard and cumin seeds and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onion paste, salt, garam masala and turmeric and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring and mashing lightly with a wooden spoon, until hot, about 2 minutes. Stir in the peas. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, chopped cilantro and remaining 2 tablespoons water.
  5. To form the samosas: Divide the dough into 10 portions. Using your hands, roll each portion into a small ball. On a floured work surface, using a rolling pin, roll each ball into a 7-inch wide disc. Cut each disc in half.
  6. Set a small bowl of water beside you. Working with one dough semi-circle at a time, fold half of the straight edge up to the rounded side and wet its outside edge with a little water. Fold the other half up to form a cone, overlapping it with the other side by 1/4 inch. Press the edges together to form a seal. Hold the cone in one hand and fill it with about 1/4 cup of the potato filling. Slightly wet the inside of the rounded edge and fold it over the filling to enclose it. Press the edges together to seal. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling to make 20 samosas.
  7. In a large, wide heavy-bottomed pot, pour in the oil to a depth of about 2 inches. Place over medium heat, and heat until a deep-fry thermometer inserted in the oil registers 365 degrees F.
  8. Working in small batches, fry the samosas until golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Serve immediately with tamarind sauce or your favorite chutney.
  9. For the ghee: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Skim off any of the white foam that comes to the surface with a spoon (being careful not to scoop up any yellow fat from the butter) and discard. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until all of the water has evaporated and the white milk solids have browned in the bottom of the saucepan, about 8 minutes.
  10. Line a sieve with cheesecloth or a coffee filter and pour the butter through into a container. Discard the browned milk solids in the sieve or reserve for another use. Use now or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Yield: about 2 cups

Cook’s Note

When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.) Ajwain seeds are available at South Asian or specialty spice markets. They give texture and a slightly nutty, anise flavor to the dough. Garam masala is an Indian spice mixture which usually contains cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, peppercorns and cumin. It's available in Indian and specialty food stores. Black mustard seeds are available at South Asian or specialty spice markets. They are the most pungent of all the mustard seeds. Feel free to substitute brown or yellow mustard seeds.