How to make your own samosa pastry — and fold these snacks like a pro
Once you know the tricks to making samosas from scratch, you'll never resort to using shop-bought pastry again
There’s an art to mastering the traditional Punjabi samosa with a spicy filling that’s covered with irresistible crispy and flaky pastry.
This popular hand-held snack is firmly entrenched in SA’s culinary tradition, so it was fitting to kick off Heritage Month with a lesson in making the pastry from scratch — I'd always used shop-bought pastry before.
I was at the African Relish cooking school in Prince Albert, Western Cape, where their five-spice potato samosas — with a filling created by international celebrity chef Reza Mahammad — are one of their most popular dishes.
AFRICAN RELISH SAMOSA PASTRY
360g (750ml) flour
10ml (2 tsp) salt
15ml (1 tbsp) olive or sunflower oil, plus extra for rolling
I watched as chef assistant Rowina Petersen, a dab hand at making the pastry, deftly worked the dough — a mix of flour, water, salt and olive oil — with her delicate hands like a magician. (You can used a food processor if you like.)
The dough was divided into equal-sized balls (about 90g each) and they were covered with a damp tea towel to rest for 30 minutes.
Petersen then rolled each ball into equal-sized discs, sharing how she’d learnt her skills having watched her aunt, an expert samosa maker.
Starting with one disc, she made indentations into the top of the dough with her finger then brushed it with olive oil and repeated the process with another disc, layering them on top of each other. A third disc was added — this time no olive oil, rather a sprinkling of flour over the top.
Rolling the stack out very thinly, she gently eased the dough over the back of a well-oiled baking tray (used upside down).
The big thrill was watching how after 3 to 4 minutes in a hot 200°C oven, the pastry puffed up like an inflated balloon.
Working quickly, Petersen removed the pastry from the oven, cutting it into equal-sized rectangular strips and magically started peeling off layers of thin pastry. Remember the discs of dough rolled together? That’s what creates the layers.
She then showed us how to fold the samosas (see photos below):
- Place a rectangle of pastry on your work surface with the shorter side facing you.
- Brush with egg wash.
- Add a spoonful of the filling on one end, arranging it in a triangular shape.
- Take the bottom corner of the pastry with the filling on it and fold it up to the opposite corner to form a triangle; this is then folded over and over again until all the pastry is used up.
The raw folded samosas were placed in a dish in a single layer (to stop them from sticking together) and covered with a slightly damp tea towel.
Just before serving, they were deep fried in hot oil until golden brown and crisp.
The end result proved that samosas are one of those snacks where one is never enough.