Sudeshna was writing an article for Al Arabiya English and got in touch with me for her Ramadan special series, documenting how samosas came to become an essential element for iftar feasts. Muslims over the world would agree, no iftar meal is complete without biting into a hot fried chutney-loaded samosa, inhaling its teasing waft of ginger and garlic and munching the spicy filling after a daylong fast.
Samosas have continued to evolve into a food that has limitless possibilities to experiment. A varied Indian culture has had the opportunity to culturally mold the concept and samosas represent how India has adopted them to its own requirement with its own addition of spices like ginger and caraway seeds. The filling changed too, with vegetables replacing the meat in most of the subcontinent. Samosas have continued to evolve. And everywhere you go in India, it is different.
Because my mom has always been a working woman, I remember she always did the preparations for Iftar on the previous night as my sister and I helped with minor chores. The most exciting moment was when she’d put together the elements for dhungaar, a charcoal smoke introduced to the filling mixture which would make the whole dish go from good to brilliant. The smoking, of course, is optional in many different varieties of samosas from different parts of the world. We’d then watch her effortlessly fold strips of the dough into perfect triangles and freeze them to use the next day. And she’d always serve it either with a cup of tea or gol paani for Iftar. Her daughters would get some interesting shapes that nearly resembled a triangle, but the disasters were out-numbered by the laughs and giggles that has turned into beautiful memories I look back to year after year.
Smoked Bohra Samosas
Minced mutton – 350 gms
Grated ginger – 2 tbsp
Grated garlic – 2 tbsp
Green chillies – 2, finely chopped
Water – ¼ cup
Scallions/green onions – 4 stalks, finely chopped
Mint leaves – a handful, chopped
Green peas – ½ cup, boiled or frozen
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil for deep frying + 2 tbsp
Hot coal and clarified butter (ghee) for dhungaar.
Packed samosa sheets – 20
1. In a cooking pot, heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil. Saute ginger, garlic and whites of scallions for approximately two to three minutes until translucent. Add green chillies and continue to saute for another minute.
2. Add mutton mince and saute and fry for a couple of minutes on medium flame. Add the spices – coriander powder, cumin powder and turmeric powder. Mix well. Now add water and cover and cook on medium low heat till the mince is cooked and is completely dry. Add the green peas and mix. Turn off the heat.
3. For dhungaar, place a small steel bowl inside the cooking pot of mince mixture and add a few spoons of ghee in it. Place a hot coal on the ghee and cover the pot to trap the smokiness from the coal inside the mixture. Let it cool.
4. Defrost the samosa sheets and make a slurry of flour and water to glue the ends of the samosas.
5. To make samosas, work one sheet at a time. Fold the sheets into a shape of the cone and fill about 2 tbsp of filling into the triangle. Press it down with your fingers and brush the flour water slurry on the end of the pastry to seal.
6. Heat oil in a wok and deep fry until golden brown. You can alternatively, brush the oil on top of the samosas and bake at 200 degrees C for 10-15 minutes for a healthier version. Serve hot with chutneys.