Food

All hail the king!

DESI DELIGHT Fresh samosas being fried

DESI DELIGHT Fresh samosas being fried   | Photo Credit: V. Sudershan

Having recently scored a point over the mighty burger, samosa, with its varied fillings and flavours, remains the undisputed sultan of snacks

I was happy to read what the Centre for Science and Environment had to say about samosas. They are healthier than burgers, it said in a recent report. I like my burgers — especially when the meat is nice and juicy. But if there is something I love, it’s a crispy samosa, filled with potatoes, flavoured with bits of peanuts and some mild spices.

This week, my paean is to the humble samosa, which comes in various forms across the country. There was a time when the samosas that you got in Delhi were of a uniform kind. They were large, had potatoes — and that was it. But I have had some great samosa experiences over the years, and I’d like to recall some of those.

I think on top of the list is Kallan’s keema samosas, nice and spicy, and filled with minced buffalo meat. The meat gives a different dimension to the snack, and eaten hot, there is nothing quite like it. Kallan’s, essentially a sweet shop, is in the Jama Masjid area. If you turn in from Urdu Bazaar towards Matia Mahal, it’s one of the first shops on the left. You bite into a freshly fried samosa, and get an aroma of fragrant spices.

When we moved to Mayur Vihar long years ago, I was introduced to the samosas that were sold in a small shack in the neighbourhood. Every evening, people would line up in front of the shack, and hot samosas would be fried for the devotees. Duggal, as the place, is known, has now moved to a shop in the main market area and there is always a crowd around it. Just a few days ago, a co-foodie who runs a taxi service told me that he had been meaning to come from Daryaganj to try the samosas out. I think what makes the samosa so special is that the ingredients are all fresh, and it is fried in such a way that oil doesn’t stick to it.

Another great samosa seller is near the Aurobindo Marg. He comes every afternoon and sells samosas by the roadside, next to Annapurna Sweets. I love it for the chutney that comes with it. And the Annapurna singaras — the Bengali samosas — are excellent, too. Singaras are somewhat different, for the potatoes come with a bit of skin, are usually cooked and not boiled, and carry some mild spices, peanuts and often a bit of raisins. In the winter months, you often get cauliflower samosas, which are much loved in Bengal. The florets are half-crunchy and half-mushy and give a delicious kick to singaras.

The tiny ones

The tiny ones   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

I found this little place behind Janpath where I ate some great tiny samosas, packed with little pieces of potatoes. If you take a lane that connects Janpath with Kasturba Gandhi Marg, you will see a Peepul tree on the left, near a mechanic’s workshop. Under the tree, a mother and son fry some of the best small samosas that I have eaten, filled with boiled and spiced potatoes.

Dream dessert

Another favourite samosa shop of mine is the Janta Sweet shop in Multani Dhanda, near Deshbandhu Road, Paharganj. The samosa is different because its filling consists of mildly-spiced boiled moong dal.

Ever had makkhan ka samosa? It’s a sweet and a dream dessert — prepared with cold butter which is rolled out on a cold surface, turned into a triangle and filled with dried fruit. I had this special samosa at a food counter set up by Babu Ram Halwai of Old Delhi at the Jashne-Rekhta festival some months ago.

I have some fond samosa memories — of eating paneer samosas in a place called Kumar’s at Karampura in west Delhi. Delite cinema had the biggest samosas that you could eat. And I remember the legendary samosa seller in Panchkuian, who gave us the most delicious samosas served with chholey. When we ate that, it seemed all was well with the world.

I think once I start writing about samosas, I can go on and on. The dish, which came to us from central Asia, or perhaps Persia, is a part of our daily lives now. Burgers are all right, sure, but the king of snacks is, to my mind, the samosa. Time we gave it a crown and a throne.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 1:10:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/all-hail-the-king/article21247936.ece

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