South African samoosas featuring ground beef encased in a light pastry, fried until golden. This spin on samosas is a Cape Malay and South African classic that packs in a serious amount of flavor.
This samoosa recipe boasts a curried beef filling and fried pastry for the ultimate spin on the street food classic.
While samosas might be most commonly associated with Indian cuisine, the food has made its way from Persia through Southern Asia, back West to South Africa, giving rise to a number of varieties of the filling mixture and pastry ingredients.
Samoosas differ in more than just name, you’ll find the fillings in South Africa tend to be slightly different than the Indian versions you’re perhaps used to. The most popular are filled with curried beef mince and they’re more inspired by Cape Malay cooking. You’ll also find flavors like cheese and onion and prawn and corn – even biltong and feta sometimes find their way in! All are housed in that familiar shatteringly crispy pastry – the perfect snack.
What are Samoosas?
Samosas are well known as an Indian street snack (and always one of our favorites to order from the takeaway) but the samoosas we know today have a few different inspirations.
The fried snack was likely brought to the country by the peoples of India, Malaysia, and Indonesia, who were taken to South Africa by Dutch spice traders. These different nationalities inspired the cuisine across the country and the samoosas you try there will differ depending on where you are. In Cape Town, the flavors will be influenced by the Cape Malay flavors but in Durban, you’re likely to find the Indian flavors and fillings you’re used to.
One thing South African samoosas will show you is that you can fill these fried snacks with anything your heart desires. Try these traditional curried mince ones to start and then the world’s your oyster. Surely both of these show that if you cover just about anything in a crisp golden pastry, we’ll eat it!
The ingredients for samoosas are dependent on your filling of choice but the traditional Cape Malay versions will usually include mince (either lamb or beef), onions, garlic, ginger, spices, fresh coriander, and peas. Spiced mince is a very traditional Cape Malay dish and is often served with vetkoek, a fried savory dough – like a fried bread roll.
The spices are what really make this dish sing, cutting through the richness of the meat with curried flavors bound to warm the stomach and soul.
Like we said though, there’s nothing to stop you from trying all sorts of flavors, and cheese and onion and corn and shrimp are up there with some of the best – perfect for those who don’t eat meat or prefer a sweeter, milder flavor.
How to Make South African Samoosas
These samoosas are much easier to make than they may look. Our full recipe is at the bottom of this article, but the main steps can be broken down into:
- Fry onion, garlic, and ginger until soft
- Add the spices
- Brown the beef
- Add peas
- Leave the mixture to cool slightly
- Fold filling into samoosas
- Fry in hot oil until golden
What to Serve with Samoosas
Samoosas make an ideal party snack, just a little bigger than bitesize and packed full of flavor, they’d be perfect for cocktail hour. These can also be served as an appetizer or as part of a large meal or buffet.
In South Africa, you might also enjoy this crunchy fried treat in the lead-up to a braai as there can often be a little bit of a wait before you’re fed! They’re also enjoyed on the go or as padkos which means food taken on a journey. So if you’ve got any samoosas left over, be sure to take them on your road trip.
Times & Temperatures
The cooking of the filling or even frying the samoosas doesn’t take long at all, the only slightly tricky part is the folding. If this is your first time making samoosas, leave yourself a little bit more time to get the technique right, once you’ve learned it, you’ll have these snacks together in the blink of an eye. It’s a fun thing to do with friends and family as you chatter away.
The only important temperature to get right is the frying oil. You need to make sure it’s at 350°F (180°C) and be sure not to overcrowd the pan as that will make the temperature drop quickly. As you’ll most likely be cooking in batches, make sure the oil comes up to temperature in between.
South African Samoosas
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion finely diced
- 3 cloves fresh garlic minced
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 2 oz fresh coriander finely chopped
- ½ cup frozen peas
- kosher salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp flour
- 10 sheets egg roll pastry
- Set a frying pan or skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil
- Once hot, fry the onion for 5-7 minutes until starting to soften
- Add the ginger, garlic, and spices to the pan and cook for 1 minute further
- Tip the ground beef in and cook for 10 minutes or until browned, stirring to break up any lumps and ensure everything is well combined
- Remove from the heat and add the fresh coriander and frozen peas, stir and set aside.
- Once cooled slightly, taste and season with salt and pepper
- Mix together the water and flour to make a glue and set aside
- Cut the egg roll pastry into strips approximately 12 inches x 4 inches. Take one and cover the rest with a damp cloth to stop them from drying out.
- Dip your finger in the glue and run it approximately 2 inches down one side at the top of your rectangle and then fold across to create a right-angle triangle and stick down.
- Take more glue, run it 2 inches down from the triangle you created and fold it again – this should give you a small cone and a remaining flap of pastry.
- Add 2 tbsp of filling to the cone so it’s full before gluing the edges of the remaining flap and pulling the across and sticking it down to form a samoosa shape.
- Once the samoosas are all filled, keep them under a damp cloth again to stop them from drying.
- Heat a deep fryer or pot of oil to 350°F (180°C)
- Once the oil’s at temperature, fry the samoosas in batches until crisp and golden brown.
- Drain on paper towel and serve