We put these on the menu in the fall close to Thanksgiving and Christmas because sweet potatoes and cranberries are so much a part of the American table at that time of year. In the summer, we may fill the samosas with corn and fava beans. Samosas are the traditional, pyramid-shaped fried pastries common in India, especially in the northern part. They are usually filled with potatoes and peas and served with mint-cilantro chutney and tamarind chutney.
We use square spring roll pastry sheets instead of a heavy dough because it makes the samosas lighter and crispier. Also, it’s a lot easier to use. These are wheat-flour- based and made without eggs, so they are vegan. Do not confuse them with egg roll wrappers, which are thicker than spring roll sheets and made with eggs, or with rice paper, which is used for Vietnamese spring rolls.
Assembled samosas freeze well, so you can make these through Step 5 up to a month ahead, provided they are wrapped well. Thaw them before baking.
1 green onion, dark green tops only, cut lengthwise into 8 strips (1/2 inch wide)
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup canola oil, plus 6 cups for deep-trying
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1-inch piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh Thai green chili
1/2 teaspoon chaat masala
1/4 teaspoon deggi mirch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
8 (6 x 6-inch) spring roll pastry sheets, such as Spring Home Brand
1/2 Cranberry Chutney (see recipe below)
1. Set up a small bowl of ice and water. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Dip the green onion strips into the boiling water, then transfer them to the ice water. Drain them and blot them dry on paper towels. You will use these as “strings” to tie the purses.
2. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a small baking sheet with foil or parchment.
3. Coat the sweet potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the oil and spread them on the baking sheet. Bake until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and mash the potatoes with a potato masher. (You can do this right on the pan.)
4. In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the cumin seeds and let them crackle. Add the ginger, green chili, chaat masala, deggi mirch, and salt, stirring to combine. Sauté for 1 minute, then mix in the mashed sweet potatoes and lemon juice. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let the filling cool.
5. Lay the spring roll wrappers on the counter. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling the center of each. Join two opposite corners, then bring up the other two to create a purse and hold it together by tying a green onion string around it with a double knot.
6. Line a plate with paper towels. Pour the 6 cups of oil into a wok or kadai and heat to 350°F. Fry the samosas until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn them constantly with a spider strainer or skimmer so they brown evenly. Transfer to paper towels to blot them and serve with cranberry chutney.
Cranberries are not something you’d find in India. I associate them with Thanksgiving, so I created this chutney to go with fall dishes, such as Sweet Potato Samosa Purses. By the way, try this chutney as a stand-in for cranberry sauce on your Thanksgiving table. Makes about 3/4 Cup.
1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 1/2 cups white grape juice
4 ounces jaggery
1 medium fresh Thai green chili, stemmed, halved lengthwise
1 dried Indian bay leaf, torn into pieces
5 green cardamom pods
3-inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
5 whole cloves
Strips of zest* from 1/2 orange
1/4 teaspoon salt
* Use a vegetable peeler to pull of strips of zest, just the thin orange layer of the peel.
In a small saucepan, combine the cranberries, grape juice, and jaggery. On a 6-inch square of cheesecloth, place the green chili halves, bay leaf, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, cloves, and orange zest. Fold the cheesecloth’s corners up to form a sachet and tie it closed with kitchen twine. Add the sachet to the pan. Bring to a boil over medium- high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 40 minutes. Discard the sachet. Stir in the salt. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container (or containers) in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Recipe preprinted with permission from Rasika: Flavors of India by Ashok Baja, Vikram Sunderam, and David Hagedorn. Copyright 2017 Ecco.
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