The samoosa might not be what first comes to mind in South African cuisine, but The Oyster Box proves they do have their place in the country’s culinary repertoire. Read on to find out about the surprising origin of these triangular treats and how to make samosas according to The Oyster Box recipe.
Along the lines of the famous song ‘Let’s call the whole thing off’, a lot of confusion surrounds how to say samosa or samoosa, that delicious savoury snack that’s so popular around the world.
In fact, both names are correct and are used interchangeably in different parts of the globe. And, we can add one other name to the mix – found annually on the Ramadan table – the samboosek, shaped in a half moon instead of a triangle.
Contrary to popular belief, the samoosa does not originate from India. The samoosa was actually introduced to India between the 13th and 14th centuries by Arab traders.
Originally called samsa after the pyramids in Central Asia, historical accounts also refer to it as sanbusak, sanbusaq or even sanbusaj. From Egypt and Libya to India, the stuffed triangle with so many names garnered immense popularity.
The samoosa was so well received in India due to its quick preparation time over an open campfire, as well as its convenient shape and easy storage when travelling. After earning its blessings from Indian royalty, the humble samosa even became food that was ‘fit for a king’.
Today, the samoosa is not only regarded as one of India’s most iconic culinary creations – with their addition of a number of spices – but it’s also treasured by people worldwide. Perhaps the secret to its popularity over the centuries is its variety of fillings and spices. After all, what could be better than biting into a hot, chutney-coated snack, inhaling its fragrant scent and munching on the spicy filling?
The Durban Samoosa is slightly smaller than those found elsewhere, and at The Oyster Box – where these tasty treats are called samoosas – you will find a selection of potato, vegetable and mince filled triangles, each afternoon in their high tea spread. Executive Chef Kevin Joseph shares his recipe on how to make your own samoosas at home.
Curried Lamb Samoosas
Filo pastry is ideal for making samoosas, and once you’ve mastered how to fold them, you’ll be amazed by how quick they are to make.
Ingredients to make 12 samoosas
225g minced lamb
30ml mild curry paste
12 sheets of filo pastry, thawed and wrapped in a damp dishtowel
Salt and black pepper
- Heat a little of the butter in a large pan and add the lamb. Fry for five to six minutes, stirring occasionally until browned. Stir in the curry paste and cook for one to two minutes. Season and set aside. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Melt the remaining butter in a pan. Cut the pastry sheets in half lengthways. Brush one strip of pastry with butter, then place another strip on top and brush with more butter.
- Place a spoonful of lamb in the corner of the strip and fold over to form a triangle at one end. Keep folding over in the same way to form a triangular package.
- Brush with butter and place on a baking sheet. Repeat, using the remaining pastry and filling. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden or deep-fry. Serve hot.
Tip 1: Work with one or two sheets of filo pastry at a time. Keep the rest covered with a damp dishtowel to prevent them from drying out.
Tip 2: Swap the lamb mince for puy lentils and you have a delicious vegetarian alternative!
Use this recipe to make samoosas yourself at home, and stay at coastal hotel The Oyster Box in South Africa to sample them at high tea.
Header image: Samoosas are a part of South Africa’s diverse cuisine © iStock / Diane Peacock.