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Samoosas are as much a part of South African cuisine as biltong and vetkoek. For the uninitiated, samoosas are fried triangles of pastry filled with mince or vegetables. If you’ve only ever bought samoosas, now’s the time to try and make your own with this easy recipe. The folding is difficult at first, but with a bit of practice it becomes second nature (I can say this from experience).

A Cape Malay samoosa is traditionally mince, but you can be creative with your own fillings. My favourite samoosa filling is cheese and onion. Another vegetarian alternative is coriander, sweetcorn and feta, or sweet potato and feta (click here for a recipe).


Faldela Tolker’s Cape Malay samoosa recipe

Makes around 50 samoosas

  • Purr or samoosa leaves – must be bought fresh (from Fargot in Salt River), or you can use spring roll pastry
  • 1 kg minced beef
  • 2 medium onions
  • Fresh coriander leaves
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp masala
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp tumeric
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp fresh crushed ginger
  • 1 tsp fresh crushed garlic
  • fresh curry leaves (optional)
  • Sunflower oil for deep frying

Braise and separate the mince in a big open pan until cooked and crumbly (this can take around 45 minutes). Leave to cool. Chop the onions and coriander finely using a sharp knife so as not to mash or create watery onion bits. Mix together in a bowl with the mince. Add all the other ingredients and mix well.

Now for the samoosa folding: take a strip of pastry and hold it in your right hand. Make a triangle shape at the bottom by folding a flap of pastry upwards, and fill this triangle pocket with a dessert spoon or two of the filling. Now fold that triangle shape to align with the strip (make sure that the bottom corner is paralell with the strip). Then fold the triangle over again and seal it closed with some paste (make the paste by mixing a half a cup of flour and 30 ml water until it has the texture of glue) on your finger.

Fill a pot midway with oil and heat until almost boiling (test with a bit of pastry – drop it in and if it bubbles then the oil is hot enough). Drop in the samoosas one by one (only cook three or four at a time, depending on the size of the pot) and deep fry until golden brown. Drain on some paper towl.


Faldela Tolker offers Cape Malay cooking classes as part of the andulela Experience Cape Malay Cooking Safari. Faldela is hilarious, entertaining and warm – and peppers her cooking lessons with such quotes as ‘There are two ways to fold a samoosa: my way or the highway.’ In addition to the cooking class, on the andulela Experience Cape Malay Cooking Safari, you visit a spice shop and the Bo-Kaap Museum.

The half-day tour costs R660 a person. Tel 021-790-2592, email,

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