From our friend, Margo True, 2019 

When I was growing up overseas, my mom threw cocktail parties constantly. She had a collection of standby recipes, and samosas were one of them. Instead of the traditional pie-crust-like samosa dough, though, she’d use phyllo, because it was available at the military PX where she often shopped, easy to use, and everyone loved the flaky, buttery, crispy crusts.

For the filling, you can use anything you like, as long as it’s not too juicy. Mom used to spice up sautéed potatoes and peas and/or ground lamb, often just with garlic, onions, and Madras curry powder. I love classic Greek spinach-filled spanakopita, which led me to think that Indian-spiced spinach might taste good—and it does. For the saag paneer, you can use any dark leafy greens to mix with the firm, mild paneer (fresh Indian-style cheese; find it in well-stocked grocery stores). Be sure to squeeze the liquid out of the greens after cooking them, or your filling will ooze out of the phyllo wrapper.

The samosas would be great with any leftover curry, including one made with your favorite Maya Kaimal sauce.

Preparation: 1 Hour | Yields: 30

  • One 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp. grapeseed, sunflower, or other neutral-tasting oil
  • 1/4 white or yellow onion, minced
  • ½ to 1 serrano chile,* minced
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and grated (use a Microplane)
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger (use a Microplane)
  • ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch or two of cayenne (optional)
  • 3 oz. paneer or rinsed feta, cut into ¼-in. dice
  • ½-1 tsp. lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • ¼ tsp. garam masala, plus more to taste
  • 10 phyllo sheets (12 x 17 in.), thawed if frozen
  • ½ cup room-temperature melted butter or ghee

Bring 1 cup water to boil in a small saucepan. Add spinach and salt to taste. Lower heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until spinach is totally tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander, pressing out liquid with a spoon.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, chile, garlic, and ginger. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and cook, stirring every now and then, until onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. If it starts sticking, add a couple of tablespoons of water.

Stir in spinach, nutmeg, cayenne, and salt to taste; then stir in diced paneer. Cover and let cook about 2 minutes so that the flavors mingle. Remove from heat, uncover, and stir in lemon juice and garam masala. Let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°. Put stack of phyllo sheets on a work surface and cover with a dampened kitchen towel.

Arrange 1 phyllo sheet on a work surface with a long side nearest you (keep the other sheets covered) and brush generously with butter. Top with another phyllo sheet and brush with more butter. Cut layered phyllo crosswise into 6 equal strips.

Put a heaping teaspoon of filling near 1 corner of a strip on an end nearest you, then fold corner of phyllo over to enclose filling and form a triangle. Continue folding strip (like a flag), maintaining triangle shape. Put triangle, seam side down, on a large baking sheet and brush with butter. Make more triangles the same way (you’ll need a second baking sheet).

Put samosas in oven, then reduce heat to 375°. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool slightly.

* To test a fresh chile for heat, slice off the stem and touch a fingertip to the exposed white membrane and seeds, which contain most of the heat-producing capsaicin. Then touch your fingertip to your tongue. If your mouth blazes, you may want to seed your chile.

Make ahead: Unbaked samosas, up to 3 days, chilled; up to a month, frozen (freeze in one layer on a baking sheet until firm, then put in a sealable freezer bag). Bake as directed (add a few extra minutes to the baking time).