I spent my childhood in Southall and back then, it had three Indian cinemas – The Dominion, The Century and The Liberty.
We lived in what was called ‘Old Southall’, close to the Dominion Cinema. Next door to the cinema was an Indian restaurant called Sagoo & Thakkar which is now known as the Roxy.
This restaurant sold the most wonderful crunchy samosa’s in the cinema lobby, and those samosas were to die for – so crunchy on the outside and packed full of smashed, not mashed potato and the sweetest peas.
A young man worked there as a waiter and he used to dress himself up like Amitabh Bachchan, (the top Indian actor back then) and he even wore his hair like him. I think he had just arrived from the Punjab and he was a die-hard fan. To be fair he looked nothing like him, but hats off to him for his love and adoration of the star. My sister and I would deliberately whisper ‘Amitabh’ to each other whenever we visited the restaurant and I remember how he used to blush when we did. We were so naughty!! The gentleman now owns that very restaurant, how amazing is that? Evidence that dreams can come true. Ok maybe not his Amitabh dream but hey, I’m not judging. Who else remembers the heated Samosa counter at The Dominion Cinema? Hot crunchy samosas washed down with cold cokes. Simply delicious!
It has taken me a very long time to get this pastry just right. I usually do 10/12 sheets of it in one go but have kept it to two to make it easier for you guys to understand the concept. You simply place the rotis on the tawa for a few seconds, you are not cooking them, just warming them. If you feel brave and want to do more than two at a time, go for it! This technique will give you the crunchiest samosa pastry – just like the restaurants make them.
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Pastry – makes 20 samosas
2 cups of plain flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Half teaspoon salt or to taste
¼ teaspoons ajwain seeds also known as caraway seeds (optional)
4 large potatoes (boiled and mashed with hands not potato masher)
1 onion, chopped
1 cup peas and sweetcorn (if you wish)
2 green chilies, very finely chopped (or to taste)
4 tablespoons oil
3 inch piece of ginger, grated
1 tablespoon coriander finely chopped
Juice of 1⁄2 a lemon
1 teaspoon salt (adjust to your own taste)
½ teaspoon red chilli powder – optional
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
½ teaspoon of pomegranate powder or mango powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
Method for Pastry
1) Mix the salt and ajwain into the flour and make a dough adding the water a little at a time – the dough should not be too soft – firmer is better – firmer than chapatti dough.
2) Split the dough into two halves and divide each half into 5 equal balls and brush the top with oil and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
3) Warm a non-stick pan or tawa (flat griddle used for making chapatti) on a low heat.
4) Flatten 2 balls of dough and brush one with oil and sprinkle with a little flour (see video)
5) Place the second piece of dough over the one brushed with oil and flatten further using your hands
6) Roll out into a circle – you will find you can roll it into quite a large circle
7) Place this roti on the pan for 5-6 seconds on each side and keep stacking them up on top of each other in a tea-towel as you are making them – just enough to change the colour of the dough – not to cook.
8) Leave to cool and then gently peel them apart. Then cut them in half – this will give you 4 half circles.
9) This is the only way you will get crispy pastry like you get in restaurants.
Method for filling, building and frying samosas
- Boil the potatoes, allow to cool then mash with your hands. You want them to be mashed but also still have small pieces of potatoes
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan
3. Add onions and cumin seeds and sauté till light brown on a medium low heat. Add ginger, green chillies and all the dry spices until all ingredients are mixed together
4. Add the chopped coriander and lemon juice
5. Stir fry for 5 minutes on a low heat
6. Pour the onion mix onto the mashed potatoes and mix thoroughly making sure all the potatoes are covered with it and add the peas and sweetcorn mix
7. You are now ready to fill your samosas.
8. Wet your index finger and run it half way along the diameter of a half circle NOT on the side that was heated on the tawa.
8. Roll the half circle around your finger to make a cone making sure the join is sealed along the cone from top to bottom using thumb and forefinger – make sure there is no hole at the bottom of the cone or your filling will leak out.
9. Throw a couple of peas into the cone to block the end then place a tablespoon of the cooled filling into the cone.
10. Seal the third side using a moist finger pressing it tightly using your thumb and forefinger.
11. Deep fry the samosas on a low to medium heat until golden brown for 10 minutes in small batches. Frying them in hot oil will cook them too quickly and you will end up with oily under-cooked pastry, and overfilling the pan does not allow them to move freely in the oil.
12. Drain straight onto a plate or tray – do not use kitchen paper/roll – this makes the pastry soggy.
13. Enjoy your samosas with a chutney of your choice.