Imagine the most flavorful chicken keema encased with flaky, buttery pastry dough that is fried off until crispy and crunchy… These homemade Chicken Keema Samosas are an irresistible snack that are wildly delicious fresh off the fryer or as an appetizer to pass around at a party. Serve them up with cilantro-mint chutney and enough chai to keep the party going.
Chicken Keema Samosas are a savory Indian snack made of crispy, buttery fried pastry filled with a flavorful spiced mince chicken. Keema refers to the ground chicken filling that is seasoned with traditional Indian spices, onions, ginger, garlic, peas, and cilantro.
Samosas are deep-fried crispy, golden brown perfection and a true labor of love to make them at home. When they're fresh off the fryer... uff the crunch shell could never taste better! Serve them with a cilantro-mint chutney and imli chutney to balance off the savory snack.
These samosas are popular as restaurant appetizers, a mid-afternoon snack, or passed around during parties and weddings. They're not only enjoyed in India but are seriously enjoyed everywhere.
Why You'll Love this Recipe
Growing up in a mostly vegetarian household, we were really lucky to get days where my dad would make chicken curry. And then, we came across that our uncle made crazy good chicken samosas. It was seriously such a treat, and still is today!
Here's why you'll love these samosas:
- The chicken keema filling stays delicious and juicy, even after it's initially cooked and put through frying. Because these are smaller samosas, the fry time is really quick so you don't end up with dry ground chicken.
- There's so much joy to making or sharing homemade samosas with loved ones. Besides the quality time together, you're also able to enjoy quality ingredients and customize the spice levels and ingredients to individual preferences.
- They're great for freezing so they can be fried fresh for a snack or prepped ahead for a large party.
What is a Samosa?
If you've ever had the pleasure of going to a South Asian wedding, Indian restaurant, or really any event with your desi friends, you've most likely tried a samosa.
A samosa is a deep-fried South Asian snack and appetizer that's traditionally filled with spiced potatoes and peas, and sometimes paneer. Other variations include pumpkin or meat fillings like chicken keema (spiced ground chicken).
It's typically folded into a triangular cone which is then deep-fried, giving it a crispy flaky outer shell with a savory filling. It's served with a cilantro-mint chutney and tamarind chutney when starting a meal along with other snacks and chaats.
Ingredients - Notes and Substitutions
The samosa dough recipe was developed over several years by my mother to result in the crispiest, flakiest, buttery shell you could imagine. I'm very lucky to be able to share it with everyone!
The same dough is also featured in the Paneer Aloo Samosas, but this one adds ajwain for a stronger flavor for the dough.
- Flour - Use plain, unbleached all-purpose flour
- Ajwain - Or carom seeds, add a bit of an extra savory flavor to the flaky samosa crust. Feel free to substitute it with cumin seeds or omit it entirely.
- Ghee - This is a traditional cooking fat in lieu to oils in Indian cooking. The milk solids and impurities are removed from regular butter to make clarified butter. Melted ghee hydrates the dough to give it an intense buttery flavor. Substitute ghee with vegetable oil.
- Water - Use lukewarm water.
Instead of making your own dough, you can also grab spring roll wrappers from the freezer section of grocery stores. After they're filled, fold them into triangles for frying. It cuts down on preparation time.
Note: My mother and I decisively use ghee in the samosa dough instead of oil. Ghee results in a softer, flaky samosa crust. In contrast, using vegetable oil in samosa dough results in a hard crust, just like the ones you typically get at restaurants.
Personally, we prefer our samosa crust to be crispy, flaky, and tasty from the richness of ghee. However, the tradeoff is that they're better served on the day of frying or kept un-fried in the freezer until you're ready to fry and enjoy.
For the chicken keema, we are only using ground spices! Whole spices, like black cardamom and cinnamon, are usually the key to making a delicious keema. But we don't want to accidentally bite into them while enjoying samosas.
- Ground Chicken - Use a blend of 80% lean 20% fat ground chicken for optimal succulence. If you're making your own ground chicken mixture, use equal amounts of chicken breast and chicken thighs. You can also use minced lamb, turkey, or beef. Just note that the cook times may vary with other meats.
- Chili - A small Indian green chili or serrano pepper is best, but half of a large jalapeño works as well. Remove the seeds if it's too spicy.
- Peas - If you don't like peas, the frozen peas can be omitted! However, they add a bit of mild delicious flavor to keema and and they're common to samosas.
- Lemon - A spritz of fresh lemon juice brightens the warm spices in the chicken keema.
- Onion - Use a small yellow onion or red onion.
- Ginger Garlic Paste - Or as I call it, gigi paste! This is simply a 50/50 mix of ginger and garlic that's blended into a paste. You can easily make ginger garlic paste at home in a mortar and pestle or blender, or purchase it readymade.
- Spices - We are using black pepper, salt, ground coriander, ground green cardamom, kashmiri chili powder, ground cumin, ground turmeric, and garam masala to finish off the keema. Kashmiri chili powder is really mild, so you can also use a pinch of cayenne and paprika.
- Cilantro - This is completely optional but it adds a pop of color to an otherwise very brown/yellow appetizer.
How to make Chicken Samosas
1. Make the Samosa Dough
Whisk together the flour, ajwain, and salt. I like to make a well in the middle of the flour and add the melted ghee all at once.
Get dirty with your hands! Rub the ghee into the flour with your hands until you get coarse crumbs. The texture will be sandy and clump in your hand when you squeeze your fist.
Slowly pour in the warm water while kneading the dough. It may not seem like it, but you'll need the full amount of water for a soft dough. Knead the dough for 5 minutes until it just starts to comes together. The dough may be a bit lumpy before you rest it.
This is super important otherwise it'll be difficult to roll out the dough. Cover and rest it for at least a minimum of 20 minutes.
Now it is time to prep the chicken keema filling.
2. Make the Chicken Keema
First, finely dice the onion and green chili pepper. If you're not using readymade ginger garlic paste, finely chop the ginger and garlic as well.
Warm the oil on medium to low heat in a medium-sized frying pan. Add the chopped onion and cook until they're translucent, about 4-5 minutes.
Then, add the ginger, garlic, and green chili pepper. Continue to sauté for 3 minutes, or until you can smell the aroma of the ginger and garlic.
At this point, stir in the spices - the chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, turmeric, and coriander. Sauté for an additional 2 minutes.
Turn the heat up to a medium flame. Add the ground chicken into the pan, break it apart with the cooking utensil and constantly stirring it. After 5 minutes, the chicken should be lightly browned and a fine texture instead of large clumps.
Turn the heat back to a low flame and let the mixture simmer for 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. At this point, add the peas, cilantro, and garam masala. Stir everything together really well.
You can taste the chicken keema at this point and make adjustments for additional salt, chili powder, or garam masala. If it's good to go, stir in the lemon juice. Allow the keema to cool to the touch before assembling the samosas.
3. Assemble the Samosas
Once the dough has rested, knead the dough again for 5 minutes. The ghee will hydrate the dough and it'll completely smooth out. It should leave indents if you press your finger to it.
- Separate the dough into 8 equal pieces, and work with one piece at a time while keeping the others covered to prevent drying.
- Roll the 8 pieces into a ball between your hands.
- With a rolling pin, roll out the dough into an oval. You'll want it to be as thin as possible without it becoming translucent. Also, make sure the edges are even thickness.
- Cut the oval into half.
- Dip your finger into water and spread it on the top right edge of the half oval. Fold the top left corner towards the middle of the semi-circle.
- Now fold the top right side over the left side we just folded over. The wet edge will overlap with the left side. Press the edges together to seal the samosa and form a cone shape.
Pro Tip: Make sure to pinch together the bottom of the cone as well. When frying, the dough will expand a bit and you want to ensure that none of the oil seeps into the filling.
- Hold the cone in your hand like an ice cream cone. Add about a tablespoon of filling, gently pressing it down into the cone and smoothing the top of it. Leave about an inch at the top to seal it.
- Brush the water on the inside edge where the remaining dough is peeking out. Firlmy press together the edges to seal the samosa.
Repeat this process with the other balls of dough, for a total of 16 samosas.
Then, we're ready to fry!
4. Fry the Samosas
My mother uses woks or kadhais to deep fry all of her Indian snacks and desserts. I use a dutch oven. Use whatever vessel makes sense for you, but make sure you use a neutral oil like vegetable or canola oil to fry the samosas.
If the oil is too hot, the samosas will expand and burst. You'll need to remove the samosa, drain the oil, and bake the samosas instead to prevent the filling from soaking up all the oil. If it's not hot enough, the samosa won't begin frying and soak up a ton of oil. You'll have greasy and soggy samosas.
- Use a food temperature thermometer. The oil temperature should be around 320 - 330°F when the oil starts glimmering. If you don't have one, heat the oil on low to medium heat and test a piece of dough to see if it floats and bubbles vigorously. That's when you know it's hot enough.
- Fry 4-5 samosas at a time. Carefully drop the samosas into the hot oil, seam side down. There should be enough oil so that the samosas don't hit the bottom of the pot. Give them enough space.
- Flip several times. You'll begin to see the top of the samosa dough start to whiten. That's when they're ready to flip for the first time. The bottom side should be a pale golden color which seals the seams. After about 30 seconds to a minute, the other side will be a pale golden brown. Bring the heat up to medium, about 360°F. Flip the samosas again, and again and again until you get a golden brown color. They should be incredibly crispy at this point!
- Drain. I like to set a cooling rack over a baking sheet instead of using paper towels. This allows the oil to completely drain so the bottom doesn't suffocate and soak up any of the oil from the paper towel. It maintains the crispy-ness this way.
- Repeat with batches. Drop the temperature back down to a low to medium setting and fry another batch of samosas.
Samosas are seriously delicious when they're freshly fried and served while they're piping hot. I recommend serving them with this Cilantro-Mint Chutney recipe and imli (tamarind) chutney with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.
These perfect little hand-held appetizers are typically served at weddings, events, and restaurants as a starter snack. It's usually served along with other snacks like chaats as well as a hot cup of chai. You can try it with this Peanut Chaat and a Mango Lassi.
If we have samosas that have been sitting around for a few days and are starting to get a little bit dry, we smash them and add a little bit of dahi (yogurt), tamarind chutney, cilantro mint chutney, sev, pomegranate seeds, cilantro, and chaat masala to make Samosa Chaat.
Expert Tips and Tricks
I've been making samosas for friends and families for several years. Here's what I've learned from making several varieties of samosas:
- Take the time to rub the dough and ghee together. Really rub the ghee and flour together into each other with your hands!
- Don't overwork the dough. Only knead the dough until it comes together. You don't need a stand mixer with a dough hook.
- Rest the dough. If it doesn't have the time to rest, the dough will be tough to roll out.
- Roll out the dough evenly. Oh, you think it's a thin oval? It's not. Roll it out more. You don't want to the dough to be translucent and easy to rip, but it should be thin enough to see a bit of light through it. Roll it out evenly! The edges should be a thin as the middle is, otherwise you'll end up with edges that are plain thick fried dough.
- Don't use extra flour when rolling. This dough is hydrated just perfectly. It shouldn't require oil or flour to prevent sticking.
- Pleat the samosa before sealing. Directly across the middle seam, create a pleat to get the perfect shape.
- Redistribute the filling before frying. Sometimes the filling will make the samosa a wonky shape. Redistribute the filling so the samosa is a perfect cone with your fingers, but do it very carefully so the dough doesn't rip anywhere.
- Use enough oil. The samosas should float to the top of the oil and avoid hitting the bottom of the pot. If it hits the bottom, the crust will get super dark in that area.
- Fry on a low heat. The heat can't be so low that the samosa doesn't fry, otherwise it'll get soggy. If the heat is too high, the samosa will burst and the filling will fall out. The samosa dough will also bubble if it's too hot. Cook it low and slow for the first few minutes until it's a pale golden brown, then increase the heat.
- Make them with friends and family. Have one person rolling out the dough, another person folding, another filling and sealing, and another frying! It'll make the process go much faster.
Storage and Reheating Instructions
You'll get the best make ahead results by using unfried samosas. They are great for prepping ahead of parties and do extremely well frozen. They can also be kept overnight in the fridge in a sheet tray until you're ready to fry the next evening.
To freeze unfried samosas:
- After you're done folding and sealing all the samosas, place them in a single line on a sheet tray with half an inch between each samosa.
- Pop the tray into a freezer for 2 hours.
- Once they're frozen, transfer the samosas to a freezer bag.
- Mark the expiration date on the freezer bag for six months from the day of assembling.
To reheat unfried samosas:
- Remove the samosas from the freezer bag. If they are covered in ice, be sure to remove the ice as much as possible before frying.
- Heat the oil in the fryer.
- Fry as instructed, adding on an extra 3-4 minutes until it's warmed through.
However, if they've been fried, they're best enjoy within 3 days. If they're soggy, reheat them in the oven at 350°F until warmed through and the shell is crisp again, about 5-10 minutes. If they're not quite soggy yet, you can flash fry them in hot oil until they're hot and crispy again.
More Samosa Recipes to try
- neutral oil, for frying
Chicken Keema Filling
- 2 tablespoon neutral oil
- ½ cup yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon green chili, finely chopped
- 1 lb ground chicken, 80/20
- 1 teaspoon kashmiri chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1.5 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Whisk together the all purpose flour, ajwain, and salt in a mixing bowl.
- Create a well in the middle and pour in the ghee. Slowly mix the flour into the ghee, and then use your hands to rub together the ghee with the flour. The texture should be sandy but the flour will clump if you squeeze your fist together.
- Add water while you knead the dough by hand. Continue to knead for 5-7 minutes until the dough comes together. Cover and rest the dough for a minimum of 20 minutes.
- Warm the oil in a medium-sized frying pan on medium to low heat. Add the finely chopped onion and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste and green chili. Continue to sauté, about 3 minutes, until you can smell the aroma.
- Stir in the ground spices - the chili powder, cumin, salt, cumin, pepper, turmeric, and coriander. Sauté for another 2 minutes.
- Turn the heat up to a medium flame. Add the ground chicken into the pan, breaking it apart and constantly stirring for 5 minutes. The mince should be browned and very fine instead of large clumps.
- Turn the heat back down to a low simmer for 5 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the peas, cilantro, and garam masala. Stir together, and then remove from heat. Finish the chicken keema off with lemon juice. Allow the keema to cool before making the samosas.
Assembly and Fry
- Uncover the rested samosa dough and knead it for another two minutes until it's completely smooth. The dough will be very hydrated.
- Roll the dough out into a log and cut it into 8 equal sized pieces. Work with one piece at a time, and keep the other pieces covered in the bowl to prevent the dough from drying out.
- Roll the piece of dough in circular motions in your hand to form a little ball. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into an oval. The dough should be very thin, just before the point where it becomes translucent. Make sure the edges are equal thickness to the rest of the dough.
- Cut the oval in half. Brush water on to half of the length of the straight edge. Fold the edge without the water down towards the middle of the circular edge, and then the moistened edge over it to form a triangular shape. Seal the dough to form a cone. Place the cone in your hand and fill it with 1-2 tablespoons of the chicken keema filling.
- Add more water on to the inner semicircle just above the filling. Press the top edges together tightly to seal. Repeat with all the samosas.
- Heat a large pot with neutral oil on a low to medium heat for frying. Once the temperature reaches 325°F, carefully drop in 4 samosas at a time. Fry on one side until the bottom is just starting to brown and the side facing you whitens, about 1 minute. Flip the samosa and fry again for 1 minute. Bring the heat up to a medium temperature. Continue to flip and fry on each side until the samosas are golden brown.
- Once the samosas are golden brown, set them on a cooling rack that's placed over a baking sheet to allow the excess oil to drip off. Lower the temperature in between batches.
- Serve the samosas while hot in a platter with chutneys.