What is a Samosa?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2019
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The samosa is a delectable Indian and Tibetan pastry, quite similar to the Greek spanakopita. Normally the samosa is made in a triangular form with pastry crust or filo dough. The interior may be stuffed with curried potatoes, peas, shredded lamb or chicken, and spices. They are most frequently fried producing a delightfully crispy exterior, though some varieties may be baked to reduce fat content. Often the samosa is eaten with mint sauce or with variants of chutney.

Though the samosa probably originates in India, one may also find these meat or vegetable pies in the Middle East. They are popular in South Africa, the United Kingdom, and are gaining attention in the US. One still typically finds them in the US at Indian or Himalayan themed restaurants.

In Indian restaurants, or in India, one may order the samosa alone, or as part of chaat. Chaat is an appetizer like dish of several different snacks. One might also expect fried green onion cakes and momos, a steamed lamb dumpling, accompanying samosa. Yogurt and chutney typically garnish the side of a chaat dish and are used for dipping.

Though chaat plates seem to have originated in Northern India, they are now popular throughout the country. There are small cafes devoted to serving only chaat, and also one may purchase chaat at roadside stands. At festivals and events, and in heavily frequented areas like railway stations, the smell of chaat stands is certainly enticing.


If one does not have access to a nearby Indian restaurant, or a nearby chaat stand, numerous samosa recipes exist online. Also, many specialty foods and Asian grocery stores carry samosas in the freezer section. These can be taken home and baked or fried, bringing the taste of India straight into one’s home.

Recipes tend to differ on what should fill a samosa, and on what pastry to use. If one is not a great pastry chef, filo dough may provide the easiest choice. As for ingredients, the primary goal is providing lots of flavor, so spice liberally with cumin, coriander and curry to give the ingredients the appropriate Eastern flair.


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Post 4

@ysmina-- I can explain those samosa ingredients to you. We call wheat flour maida in North India. It's more refined than wheat flour found in America but you can still use it to make samosa or if there is an Indian grocery near your house, you can ask them if they carry maida. Ajwain is a spice, the English for it is carom seeds. Amchur is green mangoes which are dried and made into powder. My wife doesn't put amchur in samosa but if you want to include it, you can ask the store for mango powder and they will know what it is. Kadhai is a deep stainless steel pot we use to fry foods. You can use any deep frying pot if you don't have one. Chutney is like relish and there are many different kinds. Hari chutney is cilantro chutney. I like pudina (mint) chutney and tamarind chutney with samosas.

Post 3

I have a vegetarian samosa recipe I want to try but the recipe uses several Indian terms that I don't understand. It calls for "maida" and "ajwain" in the dough and "amchur" for the stuffing. I'm supposed to fry it in a "kadhai" and serve with "hari chutney." I have no idea what these are! Can anyone help?

Post 2

The first time I tasted a samosa six years ago, I wasn't sure what to make of it. It looked wonderful and smelled great, but my palate which had only tasted bland foods until then was not ready for a samosa just yet. My tastes have changed so much since then and I prefer a samosa over any other snack today. It can be a bit high on the calories so I try to limit it to once a week. I live in the Washington D.C. are and you can find samosas everywhere. Of course, I prefer Indian restaurants but Whole Food's chefs make pretty good samosas too. The frozen kinds are also tasty, especially if you are trying

to stay away from fried foods, you can cook it in the oven and have light baked samosas. The frozen ones also come with little packages of chutney (mint and yogurt sauce).

If you are reluctant to try spicy foods like I was once, I'd say give it a chance! If it's still too spicy, try easy samosa recipes and other Indian recipes at home so that you can adjust the spices to your taste. I do this all the time, also because cooking Indian recipes requires such intricate mixing of spices and ingredients, I really enjoy it.

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