How to make samosas and the cultural significance within South Asian snack foods

Stuffed, deep-fried appetizers that are perfectly browned, puffy, and bag-shaped, samosas are a savory staple in South Asian cuisine.

For ABC News correspondent Zohreen Shah, cooking her family’s beloved Pakistani-style samosas is like stepping into a culinary time machine.

“They are full of my mother’s family history, but also history in general,” Shah said with his mother, Sameena Adamjee, as they prepared a batch of their family’s favorite dish. “When we eat one of these, they are full of energy and a lot of culture.”

VIDEO: Zohreen Shah Makes Samosas With Mom, Talks Recipe Legacy

Adamjee, who grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, told “GMA” that “every Pakistani, South Asian and Indian dinner has deep-fried things as appetizers,” and for his family, “they were used as something you would have when friends and friends”. family come have a cup of tea, [which] It’s important in our culture.”

Adamjee’s chili, coriander, cumin and turmeric flavored samosas are made with three different variations of filling: dal, which are stewed lentils; aloo, which are potatoes; and keema, which is ground meat.

“Real samosa wrappers are hard to fold, so I cheat and use egg roll wrappers to make it easy to maneuver,” Adamjee said.

“You should give yourself more credit,” Shah encouraged his mother. “We’re using slightly different packaging, but it also symbolizes where we are.”

Added Adamjee: “In a way, it’s a melting pot because we’re fusing different cultures together.”

Shah explained that each culture has something that is like a samosa with slight differences based on their specific ingredients or the way they are made.

Zohreen Shah

A childhood photo of Zohreen Shah and her mother, Sameena Adamjee.

“They have something that is like a samosa in Spain, in Brazil, in Israel, in all the Arab countries, but it’s actually called something different there,” he said. “And the filling is different or the wrapper or the outer layer is different. And that’s why samosa is so special, because every culture has its version. But the differences are what make it so special.”

When Adamjee cooked samosas while Shah was growing up, he said, “I would make dozens of them and freeze them individually, so when you take them out and fry them, it’s pretty quick.”

Shah added: “What I now realize is how unashamed we were of bringing food from our own culture to school. I didn’t care. There were a lot of things I would hide… but food, you can’t let it go. .we had your home-cooked food every day at school.”

Check out her full recipe below.

Homemade samosa recipe

Sameena Adamjee fills her homemade samosas inside a wonton wrapper.


1 package egg roll wrappers (large square wrappers)

1 pound keema, also known as ground beef

2 serrano chiles, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1/2 tablespoon ginger, finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 onion (medium size), finely chopped (squeeze out any water)

1/2 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped

Oil to fry the samosa


Cook the keema with 1 tablespoon of chopped serrano pepper, garlic, ginger and salt

Once the keema is fully cooked, stir on high heat until the water evaporates. Keema must be very dry.

Cool the keema.

Add the onion, cilantro and 1 tablespoon serrano chile (you can use less) to the completely cooled keema. Mix well.

Cut the egg roll wrappers into thirds. Place unused wrappers flat in a sealed plastic bag.

Fill the wrappers with the keema mixture using a teaspoon. Apply water to seal the wrappers. Be sure to seal it well, pinching the corners if necessary.

Place the samosas on a flat plate until ready to fry (fry soon after wrapping to prevent cracking).

Heat oil in a 10- to 12-inch wok (fill wok just over half full).

Heat over medium high heat and turn down a bit.

Gently drop 1 samosa at a time into the oil. Samosas take several minutes to brown. Do not fry more than 8-10 minutes at a time in order to fry evenly.

Once fried, remove the samosas with a slotted spoon and allow the access oil to drain on paper towels.

Serve with coriander chutney and/or lemon wedges (coriander chutney is available in most South Asian grocery stores).