Photograph by Joanna Yee
"I came across these samosas in the bustling Hyderabadi colony in Karachi," explains Sumayya Usmani, author of the excellent Summers Under the Tamarind Tree, "An area filled with immigrants from Hyderabad in India who settled there at the time of partition in 1947." This piece of explanation is emblematic of Usmani's book, in which she aims to share the cultural histories of the dishes of her native Pakistan. As well as history, these samosas are also rich in flavour. "The special ingredient is pawa," she says, "A dried, flattened rice, which soaks up all the juices from the onions, leaving tiny, crisp, moreish parcels of flavour."
For the filling
- 1-2 medium red onions, cut into fine half-moons
- Large handful of powa/poha (dried pressed rice, available in South Asian stores)
- ½ tsp chaat masala
- ½ tsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp dry-roasted cumin seeds
- ¾ tsp salt Handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
- 6-8 mint leaves, roughly chopped
- 1-2 thin green chillies, finely chopped
- Juice of ½ lemon
For the samosas
- 12 samosa sheets or filo pastry, cut into 24 sheets
- 500ml sunflower oil, for frying
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil, for sealing
- Add all the ingredients for the filling together in a bowl and toss to ensure they are mixed well. Set aside.
- To assemble the samosas, lay out the samosa pastry (if using filo, use 2 sheets, stuck together with a light brush of oil).
- Brush the pastry facing you lightly with oil. Place 1 tablespoon of the filling on the top right-hand side of the pastry and begin to fold the remaining length of pastry up and over the filling to form a triangle shape. Keep folding up and across the remaining pastry until you have wrapped all of it.
- Using the pastry brush, brush oil on the loose end of the pastry to seal. Repeat with the remaining pastry and filling to make about 12 samosas.
- Heat the 500ml oil in a large, heavy-based deep pan over a medium heat to 180°C, or until a cube of bread sizzles in 30 seconds.
- Once the oil is smoking, reduce the heat to low. Carefully add the samosas to the hot oil in batches and deep-fry for 2-4 minutes until they’re golden brown all over.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Serve hot with a chutney or sauce.
Summers Under the Tamarind Tree by Sumayya Usmani is published by Frances Lincoln. Photography by Joanna Yee. £20; quartoknows.com.