Samosas are small, spicy turnovers typically filled with potatoes, paneer cheese or meat with variants throughout South Asia. They're typically deep-fried, but if you are frying-phobic, as I am, you will be relieved to know that they are also delicious baked. Serve them with chutney, yogurt, chopped onions, chopped fresh coriander or chaat masala, a spice mix with dried mango powder, cumin, salt, ginger, coriander and other ingredients (available at Indian stores and some specialty markets).
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter or 8 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
2 tablespoons plain yogurt, sour cream or buttermilk
½ cup ice water
1/3 cup yellow or green split peas or red lentils, washed and picked over
1 cup water or vegetable stock
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 hot green chile peppers, minced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 large baking potato (about ¾ pound), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice, and boiled until just tender
1/2 cup par-cooked and drained green peas
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Prepare the dough: Place the flour and 1 teaspoon of salt in the container of a food processor. Pulse for a couple seconds to blend.
Cut half the butter into bits, add it to the flour and turn on the machine. Let it run until the butter and flour are the consistency of cornmeal. Add the yogurt, sour cream or buttermilk and pulse a few times. Then with the machine running, add ice water through the feed tube 1 tablespoon at a time. The instant the dough forms a ball, stop adding water. Knead dough for one minute by hand, then cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
Prepare the lentils: Boil lentils in water or vegetable stock with salt and curry powder partially covered for 30 minutes, until soft and beginning to turn to mush. Add additional liquid if necessary. The mixture should be moist but not soupy.
Make the filling: In a large sauté pan or skillet, heat the remaining ½ stick of butter (or 4 tablespoons ghee) over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the onions and ginger, and cook, stirring, until starting to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chile peppers, salt, coriander, turmeric and cayenne and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds.
Add the potatoes and cook, stirring until the potatoes start to color and become dry, about 3 minutes. Add the peas and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in cooked lentils. Remove from the heat and add cilantro and lemon juice. Stir to combine, then adjust seasoning to taste. Let sit until cool enough to handle.
On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for 1 minute. Break off pieces, about 1½ ounces each. Place each ball on the floured surface and roll into a thin circle, about 6-inches in diameter. Cut each circle in half (2 semi-circles).
Spoon about 2 teaspoons of filling in the center of each semi-circle. Brush the edges with water and fold the dough over the filling. Press the edges together to seal. Place on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining ingredients.
To deep fry: Preheat the oil in a large pot to 350 degrees. Add the samosas in batches and cook, turning, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve hot.
To bake: Bake on a lightly oiled baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until lightly browned.