An ubiquitous street food in India and other parts of Southeast Asia, or an appetizer in Indian restaurants closer to home, samosas can be slightly sweet or spicy, made with a meat or vegetable filling. Because they are usually fried, sauces that are able to cut through the oil bring out their best.
Tamarind Dipping Sauce
Tart and sweet, tamarind chutney offsets the starches in potato- or lentil-filled samosas pleasantly. The key ingredient is the tamarind paste, also available as a pulp that has to be boiled down and broken apart, which is simmered along with spices such as cumin and chili powder, with plenty of sugar for a glaze effect. A few slivers of ginger add heat.
Sweet chili sauce follows the same approach, with caramelized sugar and a puree of chili peppers, tomatoes, scallions, soy sauce and lime juice. The liquid is simmered and reduced until thick, finishing up as a luminescent but clear red sauce not dissimilar to the dipping sauce for Vietnamese nem ran egg rolls.
Coriander and Mint Chutney
This aromatic cilantro dip is served as a standard in most Indian restaurants, but is very easy to make at home by pureeing cilantro leaves, lemon juice, garlic and chili peppers, with mint leaves as an optional addition. The dip can be made in advance and will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator.
To obtain the vivid green color, blend with a couple of tablespoons of boiling water. Pureeing cold from fresh gives a slightly duller, brownish tinge. Since the sauce can be quite watery, add a handful of nuts to thicken it and use only the coriander leaves, not the stems, which are more bitter.
Sweet Mango Chutney
If you're able to get a hold of fresh mangoes, a homemade mango chutney is in order, but the authentic process does involve canning and all the requirements of meticulous sterilization. Unripe mangoes give a tarter, more sour flavor, while ripe mangoes echo the assertive sweetness of store-bought potions.
The basic chutney formula is fruit, acid from vinegar, sugar and spices, and in this case, ginger, coriander and chili peppers. For a quicker version, mix the ingredients and simmer until thickened.
Cool Yogurt Dip
Yogurt dip, called raita in India, is ideal for countering the spice in samosas. Stir together plain yogurt, grated cucumber, chopped mint, and a touch of spices, such as cumin and cayenne pepper. Chill before serving for a creamy, smooth dip.