Chilli Cheese Samosas

Samosas can be found in virtually all the Indian (or rather, Bangladeshi) curry houses along Brick Lane. You’ll even find them on some Indian food stalls on market days. The triangular parcels are usually filled with a spiced potato mixture or lamb mince, but I make mine with a slightly different filling, which reminds me of one of my favourite English snacks, cheese and onions pasties. I use a mixture of Indian paneer and English cheddar with heat from chopped green chillies and some bite from finely sliced onions. The pastry is light and flaky, despite being fried. It’s a hybrid snack: part samosa, part pasty, and ridiculously tasty.

Ingredients

For the Filling

  • 2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • 175 g paneer, grated
  • 175 g medium cheddar, grated

For the Pastry

  • 250 g plain flour, plus more for dusting
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 500 ml rapeseed oil, to deep fry

Method

Make the filling first. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat, then add the onions, salt and chillies and sauté for a few minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the cumin, paprika and garam masala and cook for another minute, and then turn off the heat. Tip the paneer into the hot pan and stir through quickly (you don’t want the paneer to melt), then put the mixture into a bowl and leave to cool for a couple of minutes. Mix in the cheddar until well combined. Check the seasoning and adjust if needed, and then cool completely - about 45 minutes.

While the filling is cooling prepare your pastry. Put the flour, salt and oil into a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until you have fine crumbs. Add 100ml of lukewarm water to form a firm dough. Cover and rest for at least 20 minutes.

When you are ready to assemble your samosas, tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes. This will help release the gluten in the dough and ensure a flaky, yet firm crust which will hold its shape once fried. Divide the dough into eight portions and roll each one into a thin circle around 15cm in diameter. Cut each circle in half to give you 16 half-moon shapes, and rotate them so the curved edge is closest to you.

Place a heaped tablespoon of filling at the centre of a piece of pastry, leaving about 1cm space top and bottom. Brush the edges with water, and then fold the left side over the filling in the centre. Press down the pastry along the bottom seam, and then fold the right side down to form a triangle with a curved bottom edge. Pinch all the edges and the point of the triangle together so the filling is completely sealed in. Repeat for the remaining samosas.

Heat the oil in a deep pan over high heat. You can check if the oil is hot enough by dropping a small piece of bread into the oil. If it rises easily to the surface your oil is ready. Drop a few samosas at a time into the oil and then reduce the heat to low.

Fry the samosas for around four minutes, turning in the oil to ensure an even, golden colour. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Before you fry the next batch, raise the heat back up to high to bring the oil back up to temperature and reduce to low once the samosas are in. Serve hot with your favourite chutney: I like to eat these with English red onion chutney for a little sweetness that also works well with the cheese.

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