Samosas are an ancient food that has been around for over a thousand years. They originated somewhere in the Middle East. Today, they’re most commonly associated with Indian cuisine.
Variations of samosas are found throughout the Middle East and Asia, though, each with a slightly different cultural twist.
However, are samosas vegan?
It all depends on the recipe that’s used to make them. Since samosas are eaten by a number of different cultures, some of them may contain meat or animal-derived ingredients, while others may be completely vegan.
It’s best to do your research and ask your server what ingredients are used in the restaurant’s samosas before ordering.
Below, I’ll show you some of the most commonly used ingredients in samosas, so you know what to look for the next time you’re eating out. Then, I’ll answer some other commonly asked questions about samosas!
Are Samosas Vegan-Friendly?
Samosas are a simple fried snack that’s often filling enough to be considered a meal in itself. They’re essentially dough wraps that are stuffed with fresh vegetables, seasoning, and sometimes meat.
In their most basic form, samosas are generally vegan-friendly. The dough is made from simple ingredients before being stuffed with vegetables and seasoning. Then, the stuffing is tightly wrapped into a triangular-shaped snack and they’re dropped in a fryer!
They’re filling, fairly nutritious, and taste amazing!
However, many samosa recipes use some form of meat in addition to the usual plant-based ingredients.
To learn more about samosas and their interesting history, check out this cool video:
Are Samosas Vegetarian?
Samosas are most popular in India, where they’re regularly consumed by India’s many vegetarian eaters. For this reason, most Indian-style samosas are vegetarian.
It’s important to understand the difference between the vegetarian and the vegan diet, though. Vegetarians regularly consume animal products, just not the animals themselves. This means that vegetarians consume milk, dairy, cheese, butter, honey, and other non-vegan foods.
Just because the samosas you’re eating are vegetarian doesn’t mean that they’re vegan!
So, no matter how vegan a samosa might look, it’s still important to ask about the cooking process and any potentially unwanted ingredients that you might come across.
Ingredients To Look Out For In Samosas
Samosas are one of those foods that can just as easily be vegan as they can be non-vegan. So, to help you decide whether the samosas you’re looking at are vegan-friendly or not here’s a quick visual outlining the key ingredients that you need to look out for in samosas:
|Non-Vegan Ingredients In Samosas||Why They’re Not Vegan|
|Butter or Ghee||Butter is commonly used in vegetarian cooking. Although it’s a natural product, all-butter comes from dairy, which makes it non-vegan. The dairy industry is very cruel to cows and involves rape, physical abuse, and emotional abuse of female cows.|
|Meat||Meat, of course, is never vegan. The entire vegan ideology is about staying away from it! While most samosas are meat-free, I’ve often encountered samosas that contain beef, lamb, or other forms of red meat.|
|Cheese||Cheese is another dairy by-product that vegans abstain from.|
|Palm Oil||Palm oil is often mixed in with the samosa dough or is used to fry the samosas. The palm oil industry is very destructive to the environment and is responsible for much of the Amazon and Indonesian rainforests destruction. So, even though the cooking oil is plant-based, most vegans don’t consume palm oil.|
These are the main “bad guys” that you need to watch out for. Of the non-vegan ingredients used in samosas, I’d say that butter is the most common. It’s not only used in many samosa dough recipes but many samosas are fried in butter, making them non-vegan.
What Are Samosas Made Of? The Most Common Ingredients
So, what are samosas actually made of?
Throughout history, samosas have been traditionally made using dough, fresh vegetables, and local seasonings.
While the core recipe has changed little, today’s samosas often include a variety of added ingredients, depending on where you’re buying them and what cuisine you’re eating.
To help you better understand this awesome dish, here’s an explanation of all of the main ingredients used to make samosas!
Let’s start with the dough, as it’s the first step to making samosas.
1) Wheat & Water
Whether you’re looking at bread, pastries, cakes, or doughnuts, it all starts with a simple dough base. The dough is just water that’s mixed with flour. There are many different types of dough, depending on the type of flour that’s used.
Wheat dough is arguably the most common type of dough that’s used throughout the world. Wheat dough is used for everything from vegan bread to ramen noodles.
Wheat flour is always vegan. This simple baking powder is made by drying harvested wheat grain. Then, the dried grain is pulverized into a fine powder using a mill, which puts the grain under extreme pressure.
Water, of course, is always vegan as well.
2) Vegetable Oil
Today, most samosa dough is made with a bit of vegetable oil. The vegetable oil is added to the dough to serve as a binding fat.
Not only does this make the dough softer and more malleable (easier to form) but it also helps the dough to cook more evenly by distributing heat throughout the dough wrap.
Most forms of vegetable oil are vegan-friendly, as they’re sustainably sourced from all-natural plants that grow in the ground. That being said, palm oil is one type of vegetable oil that’s NOT vegan.
As I mentioned above, the palm oil industry is very destructive to the environment, so most vegans stay away from it.
The problem is that so many foods contain palm oil. Palm oil is used around the world as a popular cooking oil due to how cheap it is. You may not be able to avoid it all of the time. But I definitely make an effort to avoid it whenever possible.
Butter is rarely used in addition to vegetable oil. However, it’s often used instead of vegetable oil. Often, butter is added to the samosa dough to make it fattier, more flavorful, and more filling.
It also serves as a fatty additive that helps the dough stick together and prevents it from falling apart.
The only problem is that all butter comes from dairy. Since vegans don’t consume dairy, you shouldn’t eat any samosas that are made with butter.
Last but not least, a bit of salt is typically added to all samosa dough. When added to the dough, salt not only improves the flavor of the dough but also makes the dough stronger, firmer, and easier to work with.
Salt is one of those ingredients that’s always vegan. All salt is either created in a factory (iodized salt) or comes from ocean salt deposits (in the form of sea salt).
Now, let’s take a look at some of the most common fillings and seasonings that samosa dough is stuffed with!
Potatoes are, by far, the most common vegetable you’ll find in samosas. Some samosas use mashed potatoes while others use chopped potatoes. The fiber and starch within the potatoes are one of the reasons why they’re so filling.
Plus, potatoes are one of those vegetables that goes great with anything, so it’s common to see potatoes used across cultures for all different types of samosas!
Peas are a very common ingredient added to Samosas (particularly Asian and Indian samosas). Peas are high in protein, have a slightly sweet flavor, and are quite filling.
Fennel is a flowering plant that’s in the same family of plants like carrots. While fennel is healthy and nutritious, it’s most often used for its flavor. Fennel has rich, spicy notes that give whatever dish it’s added a more earthy taste.
I’d say that 75% of a samosa’s flavor actually comes from the fennel. That’s how strong it is!
Some cultures like their samosas hot and spicy. If you’re a fan of spicy food, then you’ll love samosas with chiles. The most common type of chile you’ll find in samosas is green chilis. However, some of the extra-spicy samosas are made with hotter red chiles!
As I mentioned, some cultures include meat in their samosas. The most common type of meat I’ve seen in samosas is lamb, which is common throughout Middle Eastern cuisine.
10) Masala Seasoning
Masala seasoning is a seasoning blend that’s used in a number of Indian dishes. There are different types of masala seasoning, but the most commonly used blend of masala includes:
- Mustard seed
Conclusion – Can Vegans Eat Samosas?
As long as you know the ingredients used in the samosas you’re ordering, then samosas are perfectly vegan-friendly. Just watch out for hidden animal ingredients like butter, meat, and cheese!
If you’re looking for some more delicious plant-based recipes, check out my list of the best vegan asparagus recipes next!