How Good is Your: Samosa

Saad Rana Jul 15 2014
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A famous Pakistani snack, samosas are a fried pastry with a savory filling. The filling can consist of spiced potatoes, ground lamb, ground beef or ground chicken. The first instance of the samosa was found in the Middle East prior to the 10th century. They were introduced to South Asia during the Muslim Delhi Sultanate dynasties when cooks from the Middle East and Central Asia migrated to work for the kitchens of the sultans.
Now that we have a small history of samosas out of the way, let’s get down to the ingredients. Here we will discuss all the filling ingredients plus the ingredients that are used to cover the filling, to make the whole samosa. We’ll discuss both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian varieties.

 

First up, aloo samosa

For this, you’ll need:

 

  • 3 cups flour (maida)
  • 2 tablespoon clarified butter (ghee)
  • Salt to taste
  • 5 large potatoes (aloo), boiled, peeled and smashed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (zeera)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder (dhaniya)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (laal mirch)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder (haldi)
  • Salt to taste
  • High oleic sunflower oil, or canola oil

To prepare:

  • Mix the maida, ghee and add the salt to taste. Add a little water at a time to make the dough firm and smooth.
  • In a pan, heat 2 tbsp of oil and add the zeera to it. Then add the dhaniya, haldi, laal mirch, and garam masala powders and fry for a few minutes.
  • Add the aloo to the mixture and mix well, adding some salt to taste
  • Simmer and cook for 7-10 minutes
  • Divide the dough into small ball-sized portions (or however big you want the samosa to be), and then roll out the portions into a circle.
  • Cut each circle into 2 halves, then take one half of a circle and lightly wet the straight edge with water, and then fold the half circle into a cone, joining the wet edge and pressing gently to seal well.
  • Fill the cone with ¾ of the potato filling
  • Lightly wet the open edges of the cone and press together to seal well
  • Deep fry the samosas in the oil till they are golden brown.

 

Next, ground keema/chicken samosa

You’ll need:

 

  • 250 grams of ground keema or ground chicken
  • 1 chopped onion (pyaz)
  • 10 cloves of garlic (lassan)
  • 3 green chili (haari mirch)
  • ½ inch piece of ginger (adrak)
  • 3 cardamom (illaichi)
  • ½ teaspoon of black pepper (kali mirch)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (zeera)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (laal mirch)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder (haldi)
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder (dhaniya)
  • Salt as needed
  • 2-3 cups flour (maida)
  • 2 tablespoon clarified butter (ghee)
  • High oleic sunflower oil or canola oil

To prepare:

  • First, make sure you wash the meat, and then cook the meat along with 1 cup of water for 5 minutes on medium flame. Drain the water
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil, chopped pyaz and hari mirch till the onions are golden brown. Add the meat and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Blend the adrak, lassan, zeera, kali mirch, and illaichi to make a paste.
  • Put the paste into the cooker and add the laal mirch, haldi, dhaniya, and 1 cup of water with salt to taste. Cook the spices on low heat for about 10 minutes
  • Add the meat to the spices (as well as green peas if you’d like) and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Mix well, and now you filling is ready.
  • Mix the maida, ghee and add the salt to taste. Add a little water at a time to make the dough firm and smooth.
  • Divide the dough into small ball-sized portions (or however big you want the samosa to be), and then roll out the portions into a circle.
  • Cut each circle into 2 halves, then take one half of a circle and lightly wet the straight edge with water, and then fold the half circle into a cone, joining the wet edge and pressing gently to seal well.
  • Fill the cone with ¾ of the keema/chicken filling
  • Lightly wet the open edges of the cone and press together to seal well
  • Deep fry the samosas in the oil till they are golden brown.

Specific Ingredients

Well there you have it – two varieties of making samosas. Now let’s get into the specific ingredients.
Maida that is used to make the samosa covering is made from the starchy white part of wheat grain, while the good fibrous bran is removed during the process of. It is also usually bleached with certain chemicals to bring out the white color. Since the good bran part of the wheat is removed, maida is full of simple carbohoydrates.
Ghee is a different ingredient that is used to make the covering and another ingredient that should have its limited uses. Ghee is a type of clarified butter which is prepared by simmering the butter and removing the residue. Ghee is composed entirely of fat, 62% of which contains saturated fats!
While the above two ingredients have its negative uses, some ingredients that are used to make samosas are good for you. For example, onions contain antioxidant properties that make them protective against health conditions such as heart disease and cancer. They contain allyl sulfides which are compounds that help lower blood pressure, as well as saponins which reduce cholesterol and prevent tumors. It contains another nutrient allium which is believed to fight arthritis. Another good example is garlic. It contains allicin which is a naturally occurring antioxidant that help improve heart health. Garlic also lowers blood pressure and LDL-cholesterol levels — as well as decreases levels of homocysteine — a by-product of protein breakdown that causes inflammation and damages blood vessels.
Ginger has amazing anti-inflammatory properties. It contains compounds called gingerols which help patients fight rheumatoid arthritis. These ginergols also inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer cells.
Cardamom contains chemicals that treat stomach and intestinal spasms and gas and increases the movement of food through the intestine. It can also treat heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome as well as constipation.
Cumin seeds are an excellent source of iron, a mineral that plays many vital roles in the body such as oxygen transportation, metabolism, and a healthy immune system. It is also important for menstruating women. (For more information, Read all about Iron here).
Cayenne pepper is one of those ingredients that you should incorporate in all your cooking. Not only does it make the food tasty and spicy, it has numerous health benefits. Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin which helps fight inflammation and provides natural pain relief due to the release of endorphins. It also reduces blood cholesterol level as well as triglyceride levels. Cayenne pepper also releases beta-carotene and vitamin A, important nutrients to fight infections and boost immunity. And for all of you that are trying to lose weight, well you should use cayenne pepper as much as you can, because it has been known to promote weight loss and increase metabolism.
Turmeric powder is another example that has numerous benefits to your health. Turmeric contains curcumin which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. If you take it with black pepper, which contains piperine, the amount of curcumin that is absorbed by the body greatly doubles. Curcumin also boosts levels of a brain hormone called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor, which increases the growth of new neurons and fights diseases that degenerate the brain. Curcumin has beneficial effects on several factors known to play a role in heart disease.
Coriander is used for digestion problems such as upset stomach, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, bowel spasms and intestinal gas.

 

Here’s a Tip for You

While samosas taste great, they may not be the healthiest choices for snacks, mainly because of the deep frying and the calories that go into them, especially aloo samosas; both meat and aloo samosas can yield up to 310 calories for one serving! Aloo samosas are full of carbs, while the meat samosa has more protein than carbs. But fear not, you can still enjoy a samosa during your next chai break. Instead of deep fried aloo/meat as the filling, why not opt for baked spinach (palak) samosa? Here’s how you can make this healthier version.
You’ll need:

 

 

  • 4 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 3 teaspoon of light olive oil
  • 1 cup of chopped coriander (dhaniya)
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions (pyaz)
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic (lassan)
  • 2 cups of thawed frozen spinach (palak)
  • 1 inch grated ginger (adrak)
  • 2 crushed green chilis (hari mirch)
  • 1 teaspoon of garam masala
  • 0.5 fl. oz of lemon juice
  • 200 gram feta cheese

To prepare:

  • Take 4 cups of the whole wheat flour, and add baking soda, 1 teaspoon of olive oil and a dash of salt. Slowly add water and form the dough until it becomes tough
  • Wash the palak and drain
  • Mix the palak, pyaz, dhaniya and feta cheese in a bowl
  • Then add the crushed lassan, adrak and hari mirch into the bowl and mix, along with the garam masala and lemon juice
  • Follow the same above methods in forming the samosa cone and fill the samosa this time with the palak mix
  • Brush the formed samosa with light olive oil and bake in the oven for 25 minutes at 200 C.
  • Enjoy this healthier adaptation of the samosa!

With this kind of samosa, you are getting a more filling food with much less calories and more nutrients that spinach has to offer. And this recipe calls for light olive oil, a more healthy oil to use in cooking than vegetable oils, as well as whole wheat flour rather than the all-purpose white maida.

Saad Rana

Saad Rana:

As a current dental student at Ziauddin University, Saad takes an interest in health, fitness and nutrition. He writes articles based on research through on-line publications as well as consulting various doctors and nutrition and fitness experts. When he's not writing for Health TV, you can find him studying, exercising or watching some of his favourite TV shows.