Whose Samosa Is It Anyway?
- Nikita Toppo
Updated : August 18, 2022 12:08 IST
Merchant travellers are responsible for transporting the samosa from Central Asia to East Asia, South Asia and North Africa
When we talk about popular snacks of India, samosa has always been in the top three. No matter how many new dishes arrive, nothing can replace the legendary snack. The crispy and flaky outer layer combined with rich filling of mashed potatoes and spices can fill your heart with joy. For Indians, samosa is not a snack, it's an emotion, but did you know that samosa does not have an Indian origin? Yes, this Indian delicacy filled with the goodness of potatoes and peas was not born in our country, it travelled all the way from Central Asia and happily settled with us.
It originated in the Middle-East during the tenth century and was officially called ‘sambosa’, as mentioned in the Iranian historian Abolfazl Beyhaqi’s work Tarikh-e Beyhaghi. Samosas have also been mentioned as ‘sanbosag’, ‘sanbusak’, and ‘sanbusaq’ in different historical accounts. The original size of the snack used to be very small and was mostly preferred by travellers as it was easy to carry. These merchant travellers are the reason why these savory snacks travelled to East Asia, South Asia and North Africa from Central Asia.
In India, it was introduced during Delhi Sultanate rule, by Middle-Eastern chefs who migrated here for employment and merchant travellers who carried the stuffed triangles in their saddlebags. Soon, it became a royal snack and was served packed with mince, peas, pistachios, almonds and other delicious fillings. Samosa was among the rare dishes which had the opportunity to be a part of both the royal thali as well as street snack. It even tantalised the taste buds of Britishers when they came to India, so they took the delicacy with them after the end of colonisation. Later the crispy snack entered the heart of multiple regions with slight variations and made a permanent space there.
There are different versions of samosa across the globe. Brazilians and Portuguese call them pastel, while in Arab countries it’s known as ‘sambusak’ where minced meat, onions, spinach and feta cheese are used as fillings. In Israel, samosas are stuffed with mashed chickpeas and Maldives uses tuna fish mixed with onions sometimes as stuffing. In India, itself it has got multiple variations such as in Hyderabad, where it is known as ‘lukhmi’ and has thicker crust and is stuffed with minced meat. On the other hand, Bengal has got ‘shingaras’ which is prepared in both savory and sweet flavours. South India prepares samosa stuffing with cabbage, carrots and curry leaves. Gujarat has tiny versions of it filled with French beans and sweet peas while in Goa it is called ‘chamucas’ which is prepared with minced beef, pork or chicken.
Samosa is a versatile snack which is available everywhere from street stalls to five-restaurants, and served with different flavours of chutney, that gives a tangy punch to our palate.