Samosas are one of India's most iconic treats - now you can make them for yourself. 

What is it?

The samosa takes the idea of a portable pastry and fills it with a mixture of potatoes, onions, peas, coriander, green chillies and Indian spices.


Samosas are know to have existed since at least the 10th century in Central Asia, where they were known as samsas. Thanks to flourishing trading routes, they came to India between the 13th and 14th centuries. Traditionally cooked around trading caravan campfires, today they are enjoyed hot or cold, as a portable snack on an epic Indian train ride.

Ingredients (makes 8 large or 16 mini samosas)

1 cup (150g) plain flour
2 tsp semolina flour
1⁄4 tsp salt
1 tbs vegetable or canola oil
1⁄4 cup (60mL) lukewarm water

2 tbs vegetable or canola oil 1⁄2 tsp cumin seeds
1⁄3 cup green peas
2 green chillies, seeded and chopped
1⁄2 tsp coriander seeds ground
1⁄2 tsp garam masala
2 large potatoes, peeled, boiled and diced (not mashed)
1 tsp amchur (mango powder) Vegetable or canola oil for deep-frying
Chutney to serve

Deep-fried Indian samosas © Eddie Gerald / Lonely Planet

How to cook

Step 1: To make the dough, combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Knead until the dough is soft, smooth and elastic. Set aside to rest for at least 20 minutes.
Step 2: In a small saucepan, heat the oil and lightly fry the cumin seeds. Add the peas and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the chillies, coriander seeds and garam masala and stir for another couple of minutes.
Step 3: Add the potatoes and gently mix through (so as not to crush the potatoes) until coated in the spices. Stir in the amchur and place in a bowl to cool.
Step 4: Lightly knead the dough and divide into two balls. Keep dividing each ball until you end up with eight balls (or 16 if you are making mini-samosas).
Step 5: Using a rolling pin, flatten out the first ball into a circular shape about a millimeter thick and cut the circle in half. Hold one half flat in the palm of your left hand and lightly moisten the edges with water.
Step 6: Fold the semicircle in half and press the straight edges together to form a cone. Stuff this with the filling and close the cone into a triangular shape by pinching and sealing the top edge. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Step 7: If not using a deep-fryer, heat the oil in a saucepan and test for readiness by dropping in a tiny piece of dough. The oil is ready if the dough sizzles and comes up to the surface gradually. Fry the samosas until golden, a few at a time. Do not overcrowd the pan. Drain on paper towel, then serve with your favorite chutney.
Tip: Making your own pastry for this traditional North Indian vegetarian version is easy and delivers a texture that you simply won’t get from the shop-bought variety. You can cook samosas in a deep-fryer, but a heavy-bottomed saucepan will do just as well.

Tasting notes

Finding a samosa in India is pretty much a case of following your nose; at the end of the aroma trail, you’ll find the samosa wallah (vendor) hard at work, preparing his little maida (wheat) flour pastry parcels of goodness and dropping them into a sputtering pan of oil.

A few flips to cook both sides to golden perfection and the vendor will scoop out your piping-hot samosa and drop it on to a serving plate with a splodge of tangy mint, coriander or tamarind chutney. Sinking your teeth into the warm, flaky pastry and savoring the blend of spices, coriander, peas, chillies and the soft, yielding texture of the potato is one of the great pleasures of the subcontinent.

For additional recipes, check our Travel Kitchen page.

Have you recreated any of the dishes featured in this series so far? Share your pictures with us on Instagram by tagging @lonelyplanet. For more great recipes, check out Lonely Planet’s book The World’s Best Spicy Food.

This article was originally published in May 2020 and updated in December 2020.

This article was first published May 2020 and updated December 2020

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