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Samosas & Chutney

Asma Khan

Lesson time 35 min

Asma teaches how to make India’s favorite street food, Bengali-style samosas (known as singara), that are stuffed with an aloo gobi filling of cauliflower, potatoes, peanuts, and seasonings like ginger and turmeric. She pairs it with a fiery tomato chutney.

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– Best samosa in the whole world. Best. Bengal is a very, very political place. And if you have two people you’ve got three political parties. But with shingara, which is a samosa, everybody loves it. So one of the few uniting factors in Bengal is shingara. – It’s too good. Even smell, the taste, the texture. – And a little spicy. – This is my childhood. It is always a corner shop. It’s your favorite shop. It’s where you go you hang around with friends. It’s an emotional thing. Now I’m gonna teach you how to make Bengali samosa which is called shingara and chutney. You know, everyone knows it as samosa. In Bengal it’s called shingara, and I’m making the winter version of it which is phulkopir, phulkopir is cauliflower. Cauliflower is a winter vegetable. Everyone waits for that time when the samosas have got cauliflower in it. So I’m gonna now start getting everything prepped for the dough. The dough has to rest. It is maida, which is white flour. You should not use brown flour because otherwise it’s just gonna have a different texture. I’m going to sieve it. It’s important to sieve the dough. ‘Cause also you don’t want to have lumps on it. It also brings in some air into it, which is great. The oil that I’m going to use is quite unusual. I’m using groundnut oil. It’s a dense oil because sunflower oil is a bit light. Because you’ll see when I’m frying it, the dough has to be a bit robust because it’s also got to hold on to the filling and take some deep frying. And then a little bit of rough handling as well. So let me just get the groundnut oil. I made a little dent in the middle. I put in my groundnut oil. Then I add a bit of salt, a pinch of sugar. You need that. Okay. Now first going to mix it. And make sure that the oil is incorporated all the way in before I add the water. Now, you want to have this kind of breadcrumby texture. Not lumps. Not lumps. But this way you gotta make sure that the oil has actually gone in everywhere. Keep mixing it a bit. Just a little bit of effort right at this stage but it’s gonna save you a lot of hassle later on. So pretty much this has gone everywhere. You’ve got to use, not warm water, but cold water. Whatever water you need, don’t put the whole lot. It’s better that you have a dry dough and you keep adding water slowly than the other way around. I put the water in the center and now I’m gonna knead. Okay, it’s looking good now. Now I can’t really knead it in this bowl. I need to transfer it to a flat surface. So once the dough is kinda holding together I’m gonna sprinkle some flour on the surface. So I’m just putting some flour in there, transferring the dough. Now I’m gonna slowly and very gently knead it. I know it looks like I’m putting a lot of strength in there. I’m not, because you don’t want to actually be too brutal on this, you need to be a bit gentle. Now I’m just opening this up to show you. It’s actually quite damp still. So there’s still some little bit of flour still around for me to actually work on. So now my dough looks pretty good. So what I’m gonna do, I’m gonna bring back the bowl put it in there. I have a damp cloth ready. Not soaking wet, ’cause you don’t wanna drip on it and I’m going to cover it and leave it for around half an hour for it to rest. And now I’m gonna start making the filling of the samosa. Now for this particular filling. We’ve got cauliflower, which is the star of the show and potatoes, which I boiled in advance. I’m going to keep the skin on. There’s a huge variation of potatoes, depending on which part of the world you are in. So, you know, you just gonna, use a fork or something and pierce it and see whether it’s cooked through. And you gotta boil it with the skin on. Your potato will be cooked, but it will be dry inside because you’ve got the skin on, that is essential. Okay, let me just get a chopping board and then I’m gonna cut the cauliflower. Cauliflower in my part of the world has a lot of creepy-crawlies in it. So quite important to wash it with salt and wash it quite well. I’m just cutting out the bit that I need and I’m going to put it in a colander and wash it very well once before I cut it into smaller pieces. Gotta get rid of this because I don’t want to risk it. ‘Cause not been washed. I’m gonna take it to the colander and maybe break it up a bit more. Obviously, you know, there’re not creepy-crawlies in every kind of cauliflower but there might be in this one. I’m gonna bring it back. I’m gonna first cut the potatoes. This can be cut quite rough because you’re going to actually even mash it up further once it’s cooked. Because it’s gotta fit into a particular shape of a pastry. And then I’m just going to set this to one side and you wanna cut the cauliflower into just small bits. The potatoes are already cooked so you don’t wanna waste a lot of time cooking. Quite important to cut the cauliflower quite small. You’ve gotta get the balance right of the potatoes and the cauliflower, that’s quite important. So now I’m going to just get the pan ready to make the mix. Fire on. This time I’m just gonna use normal oil, not groundnut oil. I’m just taking a plate out because I’m going to fry some chilies and peanuts. Take them out. Again, don’t break these chilies because they are super fiery. And our samosas are not very spicy. So you don’t want to kind of, if you wanna keep to the true essence of what is Bengal then you don’t make your samosas spicy. You do get spicy samosas everywhere else, in different parts of India, but not this one. Okay. I’m gonna put in the oil. Every kind of samosa filling is correct. There’s no authentic version. This is just my version of it. So I’m only going to be putting in ginger. There’s a style of cooking vegetarian food in Bengal which has got no garlic, no onions. The peanuts are just being blanched and I’m going to then just fry it. And the peanuts are a very important part of this particular kind of samosa filling. Obviously, you know, if someone has allergy then don’t do it, don’t put it. But traditionally peanuts are always put in the samosa filling. It is ready, I just need to make sure I have a slotted spoon to pull it out. Okay, I’m gonna do the chilies first. Because actually this is the only chili that’s going in. No chili powder goes in. So you can see like a little rocket, you can see the bubbles coming out. It’s just fascinating. There, there, I love this color. This is what has happened to the chilies. It’s, whoa. That’s burnt aroma has gone into the oil. And that is the only chili flavor you’re going to get in the samosa. So it’s quite important that you don’t put at the same time as the peanuts, so you can focus on it because peanuts will cook at a different rate. Now again, very important to watch it very carefully. Nothing as horrible as bitter, black, burnt peanuts. Just keep stirring because peanut has a lot of oil in it and it gets hot very, very fast. It’s something you learn with experience because the thing is that the peanut will continue to cook even when you take it out. So this is the color you want it. I wish I could describe the aroma to you. There’s just, you know, having fried peanuts in an oil in which you’ve just burnt chilies. It’s a really great combination. Right. You can see some are darker than the others. That’s acceptable. I haven’t burnt it. If you see that some of them have burnt, like this one, take it out, okay? So one has burnt. This one has burnt. Sift it, you know, take it out. And probably this one is burnt as well. It’s not the end of the world, you got enough peanuts that are there. Always fry more peanuts than you need. Now I’m gonna lower the oil a bit because you can see it’s now smoking. When oil is smoking, stay away and let it come down to some reasonable temperature. Get everything ready at the same time because that oil is very hot. So in goes the ginger. You want that ginger to be fragrant but not colored, okay? There. Put it in the cauliflower and the potatoes. Now I’m going to put in the turmeric and some salt. Basically I’m just breaking up the potatoes because it’s gonna have to be stuffed inside. So I’m just saving myself a lot of hassle later on. The turmeric, put in just under a teaspoon. Some salt. Remember that there’s salt in the dough as well so don’t go overboard on the salt. I’m going to add a bit of water but before that I’m gonna return all of this. Should I put some more? Yeah. The two chilies. And now the peanuts are going in there and the chilies. So now that the peanuts and the chilies have been incorporated, the final spice before I add the water is garam masala. Now I’m gonna add water. I’m gonna taste it. Mm. So it’s on low heat. I’ve tasted it, tastes fabulous. I’m just gonna cover it and leave it for a while. I have a feeling it should be done by now. Yeah. So let me close it. Yeah, it’s ready. So I’m gonna have to cool it. I think the best thing is to kind of spread it out. Okay, so I’m just gonna taste the filling a bit. Spices are fascinating. As they cool, as they heat, as they get into water, they change personalities. So don’t presume that something that is hot is gonna taste the same when it’s cool and also something that’s wet and dry. Mm. I love it. I’m gonna put it aside, Near the window so it cools down a bit. I just wanna peek and and look at my dough. If you’re surprised because if you’ve made bread and things like that and you see, oh my God, it hasn’t become bigger. There’s no yeast in it. There’s no bicarbonate of soda, no baking powder, nothing. It’s gonna stay as it is. The reason why it’s covered up? Not because it’s gonna increase in size but because it’s gonna just relax. So the chutney I’m making is a tomato chutney. It’s got chilies and ginger, garlic and some sugar, some salt, and it’s just gonna be cooked down. It’s again, it makes sense because tomato is also a winter crop in Bengal. So you know, the two winter things, the cauliflower and the tomatoes, make sense to have it together. I’m gonna just get a pan out for the chutney. So we’ll put the fire on. If you’re really not in the mood to make shingara or samosa it’s a bit of faff and an effort, this on its own is a beautiful side dish. It goes so well with any kind of roast meat as well. So you know, you can imagine this is like the spiced mashed potato and with the cauliflower in, it’s a bit of crunch. You know, it’s not quite aloo gobi that you know but it is aloo gobi in some ways. So you can always, you know, have that just as a side dish. I’m just gonna wait for my pan to heat, but while that’s happening, and we’ll transfer everything there. Because again, with the chutney you don’t want anything colored. And that’s probably far more tomatoes than can fit in that pan, but that’s okay. And sugar, which is here. So it can all go in. I’ve got my red chilies there. As with a lot of Indian food there’s many layers and undertones of flavoring. So I’m gonna put cumin seeds in there. My pan is hot. I’m putting in some oil, do not, again, use any oil that has got any flavor in it because all of that is gonna be absorbed with this oil which is just, you know, sunflower oil is great. Okay, so I’m now starting the process. I’m putting in whole cumin seeds, followed by red chilies which I’m going to break ’cause I want a bit of heat. I might put another one. If you don’t wanna make spicy, don’t break it, okay? Then get your spoon ready because you don’t want your ginger and garlic to actually color too much. There goes the ginger. In goes the garlic. You’ve gotta chop it up because otherwise you don’t wanna put a paste in there. Now just keep watching it, keep watching it. Because what you’re trying to do is just about get it colored, okay? You don’t want it to become burnt. And put in the tomato. Put a bit of salt. Again, don’t put too much salt because you can always add salt later. So salt, sugar. Sugar you need a bit. Because this is a chutney after all. Sugar will work as a preservative. So you can keep this in a jar for a few days. Again, sugar you can add later on. Now this, you just gotta make sure, you want it to come to a boil. So now what I want to show you is how you should reduce it. Now it’s obviously boiling quite hard. You gotta reduce it till it’s silent and just a kind of occasional splatter coming through. You can use apples, pears, quince. Cranberries are great. So this recipe will work for any kind of fruit that will actually break down and, you know, release all its kinda flavors through. But this is very nice with apples. So you can actually make this with apples as well. So the chutney is going to take, obviously it’s hard to know because it depends on how much water is being released with the tomatoes. It should be ready in say 20 minutes, half an hour. So this portion has to be cut into six. Now each little ball is gonna make two samosas. I’m just gonna roll it out. So the dough that I made and was resting, it has to be quite thin, but not that thin that it’ll tear because you’re gonna stuff it. Then I’m gonna cut this into half. I’m gonna end up with two semi-circle pieces. And then each one will be one samosa. So I’ve got some water. I’ve gotta bring my filling back. Then you first hold it this way. So the straight side, your forefinger, not the other way around, okay? The straight side, your forefinger. Dip your other forefinger in water and go over the entire edge with water. Then you gotta turn it into a cone shape. And you gotta make sure it’s quite tight, okay? Because otherwise this is gonna open. So there. I think I prefer to fill with my hands because I’m just doing the last bit of crushing. You don’t overfill it otherwise it’s going to break. This way, make a fold, fold it there. Close it this way. Go inside peanut. Fold it over. And there you have your very traditional Bengali shape. And this way you just sit them down and you shape all of them. Before I start rolling out the other samosas I’m going to put the oil on heat because you do need quite a lot of oil and it will take a bit of time. Just also looking at my chutney. It’s looking good No risk of it burning because it still has a huge amount of liquid coming out. I’m putting my pan on. I’m putting my oil in. I need to actually add a bit more oil because you need quite a lot of oil in there. This is because the samosa is quite tall. It needs to get immersed completely in there. When you have a pan this size do not fry more than maybe three or four at a time. Because if you put too many, A, they might stick to each other, and also it’ll lower the temperature of the oil dramatically, ’cause it’s a lot of new stuff going in and you don’t want that. So this is quite important. If you use a very light oil that oil is gonna burn very quickly. If you are deep frying use groundnut oil, use an oil that has a very high burning temperature. So your oil doesn’t burn and your samosa is not burning. I’m gonna leave that ’cause it will take a bit of time for that amount of oil to heat. But you need that depth of oil otherwise the samosa will not fry. I’m just gonna check on my chutney. Okay, my chutney looks like it’s ready. I’m going to put it off because you don’t want it to dry out. Now there’s no way of knowing what the temperature is of this oil. So I have just got piece of just rolled dough. I’m just gonna drop this little piece of dough in from the side and see what happens. If it starts coming up immediately, my oil is hot. If it was gonna stay down and not rise, it was not ready. So let me just get rid of this. So now this oil is very hot. The moment I put four samosas in the temperature will drop but I want it to drop because I need it to slowly fry. So I’m gonna start putting it in, slide it in. So now it’s not coming up to the surface because obviously your temperature has fallen. It’s slowly frying. I’m gonna start lowering the temperature a bit because you don’t want it to cook too fast. Even though the filling inside is cooked but samosa has to be slightly slow fried, okay? Now I’m turning around. When it’s very hot it seals the samosa. If you put it in and it’s kind of middle to high, the problem is they might break. So now nothing has broken. It’s immediately sealed the samosas and now you’ve got time. See, my samosa is now slowly browning. And I have to admit it feels great that they haven’t opened up because it can happen. It happens to the best of us. So if it happens to you, don’t worry. Not all your samosas will open up and you’ve got some more that you’re making. Just squeeze it a bit more. And next time you make it, just make sure that you wet it enough so that you squeeze it tight and then it won’t open up. Once you figure it out you’re gonna be samosa king or queen. Because then you’re gonna fill it with anything, with meat, with mince. So there you can see samosa looking really good. Don’t poke it. The other thing is, do not put it out on kitchen paper to drain it. Because you need it to sit on something cool, the surface, because it’s still gonna continue to cook and you want it to become crisp. With the kitchen paper it won’t become crisp. Now I’m going to start taking out the samosas one at a time. Here are samosa right there. I’m gonna get the chutney. So let me just get a spoon. Right. So I’m gonna try the samosa. But first I’m gonna put the chutney. And then open up the samosa. It feels really hot and gonna have to put the chutney on it. Need it. Mm. That is so nice. It’s crunchy on the outside and soft. Mm. So good. So this is really the soul of Kolkata. It is samosa, which is still cheap. Available for everybody. It’s what all of us eat on the streets. And this is a great way to actually symbolize what the city’s all about. And you do need the chutney, the contrast of, you know, the moist chutney and the samosa which is quite crunchy. These two things really work together. And I really hope that you will make it. And I know that if you do, you will love it.

About the Instructor

Asma Khan, owner of famed London eatery Darjeeling Express and bestselling cookbook author of “Asma’s Indian Kitchen” teaches her favorite family recipes, inspired by her childhood in Kolkata, India. The chef, restaurateur, and activist is the first UK-based chef to be featured on Netflix’s Emmy-nominated Chef’s Table and, in 2019, was listed number 1 on Business Insider’s ranking of “100 Coolest People in Food and Drink”. Join Asma on a nostalgic culinary journey to explore the smells, flavors, and ingredients of her ancestral Bengali roots.

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