THEME: #43 RAMADAN SPECIAL
RECIPE: PANEER SAMOSA
What is a Samosa?
Samosa is a fried snack. The pastry is crispy or flaky and its stuffed with a spicy filling of vegetables, meat or paneer. Spices, herbs, are added to the dry cooked. The filling is stuffed in a pastry which is usually made at home.
There are two main different types of samosas
The difference is in the way the pastry is made. The more famous samosas that are widely available in India have a flaky pastry and are folded into more plump triangles.
The ones that I grew up enjoying have a thin precooked pastry that becomes crispy on frying. They are triangle in shape but not as plump as the Indian samosa.
Samosas in some parts of the world may not be triangle but are half moon shaped.
Origins of Samosa
The word samosa originates from the Persian word sanbosag.Known as sanbusaj in the Arab world, its also called samoosa, sambusa,sambosa and sambuus. Its believed that samosa originates from Middle East and Central Asia. The Indian Sub Continent was introduced to samosa by traders from Central Asia during the 13th or 14th Century.
Samosa and Swahili Cuisine
Samosa is an important part of the Swahili Cuisine which prevails along the coastlines of Kenya and Tanzania. Mostly, the filling is either minced mutton or beef or a mixture of vegetables which generally are peas, potatoes, carrots and onion along with spices and fresh coriander. So not surprising at all that samosa is not only a part of the daily or weekend snack but also an integral snack during the month of Ramadan.
We are a group of 12 members and each week we decide on a theme and accordingly post the recipes on a Monday. The whole idea of Monday is to overcome Money Blues and our dedicated followers have a recipe to look forward to. This week the theme is Ramadan Special. I come from an area that is famous for its Swahili Cuisine and samosa is a part of it. Since I don’t have meat, decided to make Paneer Samosa.
What is Ramadan(Ramazan)?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar during which all devout Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for the whole month. Observing fast during this month is considered one of the highest form of Islamic worship. Muslims believe that the holy text Quran was first revealed during the ninth month. Islam follow the lunar calendar, therefore fasting month each year varies. This time round its June -July. That means Muslims in some countries like Iceland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, etc will be practically fasting for over 20 hours. Fasting begins at sunrise and ends at sunset. That means Muslims abstain from any type of food and water during that period.
Suhoor (suhur) is the pre-dawn meal consumed by Muslims before sunrise. Usually this meal in most families tends to be simple. Its usually what we all would have for breakfast – oats, yogurt, toast, tea, eggs, smoothies, etc.
Iftar is the evening meal consumed to break the fast. Usually, during the month of Ramadan, families try and have iftar together. Some have it at the mosque, some at home. A variety of food is prepared for the evening meal. The fast is usually broken by having some dates. It is believed that Prophet Muhammad quoted that ” When one of you is fasting, he should break his fast with dates; but if he cannot get any, then he should break his fast with water, for water is purifying.”While families and friends get together for Iftar, a variety of snacks are prepared. Samosas is a must for most families.
Other famous Snacks that are prepared during Ramadan
Mamri/Mahamri– usually enjoyed with coconut based curries.
Makate Sinya – usually enjoyed as a tea snack or for breakfast with tea.
Kaimati– the Swahili version of doughnuts, usually served as desert
Vitumbua – Swahili ball pancakes usually prepared for breakfast
Dal bhajia – served as a snack
Viazi Karai– a potato snack
Vibibi– a flat rice pancake served for breakfast
Mombasa during Ramadan
During the month of Ramadan Mombasa is different. Shops remain open till late as families come out after Iftar and dinner for shopping or to enjoy desserts. Streets and shops are lit up with fairy lights. Vendors sitting in and outside the main Mackinnon Market sell fresh succulent radishes which many Muslims break their fast with. Its believed that having a radish is cooling for the digestive system. A huge variety of dates, big, small, sweet, soft, are sold everywhere. Best time to stock up on dates and to prepare date tamarind chutney. Raw pawpaw ‘noodles’ are are common sight during Ramadan. The raw paw paw noodles are used either to tenderize meat or is cooked in milk or coconut milk to make a kheer or pudding like dessert. Ready made snacks are sold for those who don’t get time to cook after a hard day’s work.
For this theme, I decided to make paneer samosa is just right. While most Muslims prefer meat samosas, some enjoy vegetable or paneer ones. When I was growing up there were no paneer stuffed samosas. As popularity of paneer (fresh Indian cottage cheese), grew in Kenya, it became a fad to use it as a filling for samosas. I so prefer the paneer ones as opposed to the vegetables ones. Grated or crumbled paneer with finely chopped onion, fresh ginger and chilli paste with spices and lots of chopped fresh coriander are mixed and filling in the Patti or manda as its called in Kiswahili.
Samosa with different filling:
Chickpea Spinach Samosa – Mireille’s totally different filling with black chickpeas and spinach is very tempting.
Bohri Samosa – Shobha’s Bohri Samosa is what is commonly made here in Kenya by most of the Muslim Communities.
Ingredients required for Paneer Samosa
Plain Flour – all purpose flour. For the pastry (patti, manda) and extra for dusting
Rice Flour – makes the pastry more crispy
Salt – for the pastry and the filling
Lemon Juice – for the pastry and the filling
Water – for the pastry dough
Fresh Paneer – best to use homemade paneer. If you don’t have homemade paneer then make sure the ready made one is soft and not hard.
Peas – either steamed or boiled for the filling
Oil – for the filling, for making the pattis and also for deep frying
Cumin seeds – also known as jeera, for the stuffing
Asafetida – or hing for the stuffing. Omit if you don’t have any
Fresh Green Chillis – either finely chopped or paste
Fresh Ginger – paste or grated
Cinnamon Powder – for the filling
Clove Powder – for the filling
Sugar – to balance the flavors of the filling
Onion– finely chopped for the filling
Fresh Coriander – with the tender stems, finely chopped
Lemon Wedges – for serving
Green Chutney – to serve the samosas with
- For Satvik version omit using onion
- Enjoy samosa in moderation as they are high in calories
FOR THE PATTI/MANDA/PASTRY
- 1¼ cups plain flour
- 2 tbsp rice flour
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅓ -½ cup water room temperature
- extra flour for dusting
- some oil for smearing
FOR THE PANEER FILLING
- 250 g paneer grated or crumbled
- ½ cup green peas boiled or steamed
- ½ cup chopped fresh coriander
- ½ cup onion finely chopped
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp oil
- ¼ tsp asafetida
- 1 tsp green chilli paste or 2-4 finely chopped
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon powder
- ¼ tsp clove powder
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp sugar
FOR THE 'GLUE PASTE'/LAHI
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 2-3 tbsp water
- OIL FOR DEEP FRYING
PREPARATION OF PATTI/MANDA/PASTRY DOUGH
- Mix both flours and salt in a bowl.
- Add lemon juice and water and make a soft dough. It should not be sticky or too hard.
- Take a tbsp of oil and rub it over the dough. Place the dough in a bowl.
- Cover the bowl with a lid and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
PREPARATION OF THE PATTI/MANDA/PASTRY
- Divide the dough into 12 parts.
- Put a tawa or frying pan over low heat.
- Using some flour, roll out one piece of the dough into a 2″ circle. Do the same with the second piece of dough.
- Smear each circle with about a ½ tsp of oil. Dip the oiled part in the flour.
- Sandwich both the pieces with the oil and floured part inside.
- Using extra flour roll out the sandwiched dough into a circle of about 8″. The rolled flatbread should be thin.
- Make sure you don’t get any folds or creases so roll the dough carefully and keep on turning it so that both parts roll equally.
- Place the rolled circle on the hot tawa.
- Roast both sides just for 15 – 20 secs. Do over roast as it will become crisp.
- Peel both the rotis apart carefully. Be careful that the hot steam does not scald you.
- Cover the rotis with a kitchen towel so that they remain moist.
- Repeat using the remaining dough. So in total you will have rolled out 6 rotis. When peeled there will be twelve.
PREPARATION OF THE PANEER FILLING
- Heat oil in a wide pan over medium heat.
- Add cumin seeds. As soon they begin to sizzle, add asafetida.
- Add the paneer and stir fry for 20-30 secs. You don’t want to overcook the paneer otherwise it will become dry.
- Take the pan off the heat. Add ginger, chillis and onion.
- Mix and let the mixture cool down.
- Add coriander, salt, sugar, lemon juice, peas, clove and cinnamon powder. Mix well.
PREPARATION OF GLUE PASTE/LAHI
- Mix the plain flour and water to make a thick paste (glue, lahi).
PREPARATION OF PANEER SAMOSA
- Cut each roti into half.
- Trim the thick part of the arc on both sides. Now you will have a trapezium shape.
- With the shorter side facing away from you, fold one half exactly in the middle. Fold the other part over it to form a cone shape.
- Stick the overlapped part to the under part using the glue or paste.
- Now you have a hollow triangle shape with flaps on top.
- Put about 1½ - 2 tbsp of the filling and gently press it down. Don't press down too hard otherwise the pastry will tear.
- Apply the glue or past on the top flaps.
- Close the filled hollow with the flaps. Voila, you have a perfect triangle.
- Repeat with the remaining patti or pastry and filling.
FRYING PANEER SAMOSA
- Heat oil in a wok, frying pan or karai over medium heat.
- Put a small part of the trimmed patti/pastry in the hot oil. If it sizzles up immediately then the oil is ready.
- Reduce the heat and semi fry 6- 8 samosas. That means don’t fry till they are golden brown. Fry them for a 30-40 secs and put them in a colander. Fry all the samosas in this manner.
- At this stage you can freeze the samosas when they cool down. Line an airtight tin with parchment paper. Make a single layer with the samosa. Close the tin and freeze the samosa.
- Just before serving time, heat the oil up over medium heat. When its hot, add 6-8 samosas, reduce the heat and fry till they are golden brown in colour.
- Remember to keep turning them over while frying so that they brown evenly.
- Serve hot samosas with lemon wedges and your favourite chutney.
- Don’t fry the samosas over high heat. The pastry will become brown but the inside part of the pastry will be raw.
- Remember the trimmed parts? Well don’t throw them away. Fry them, add a bit of red chilli powder and serve as a crunchy snack.
- If you have any filling left, make a sandwich.
- To make mini samosas divide the dough into 16 to 18 parts. Roll the rotis to a diameter of 6″.
- You can use ready made samosa patti (manda) or even the wonton wrappers which are readily available in grocery stores or supermarkets.
- Be careful when folding the triangles. You don’t want the tips to have large holes as oil will get into the filling.
- Don’t overfill the samosas otherwise the pastry will tear.
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