Samosas, those delicious triangular pockets of goodness, have a special place in the hearts and stomachs of people worldwide. These delectable pastries, filled with a variety of ingredients, have a rich history that spans continents and cultures. Today, on World Samosa Day, we celebrate the diversity of this beloved snack and explore the different versions of samosas from around the world.
History Of Samosa
The samosa, a delightful and iconic triangular pastry, boasts a fascinating history deeply rooted in the Indian subcontinent. Its origins trace back to the Middle East, where it was known as "sambosa" or "sanbusak." Historical accounts suggest that the samosa made its way to the Indian subcontinent around the 13th century, thanks to flourishing trade routes connecting India with the Middle East.
The samosa underwent a remarkable transformation as it journeyed into the subcontinent, adapting to the local palate and ingredients. The distinctive triangular shape became its hallmark, making it easy to handle and consume. Initially, samosas featured fillings like minced meat, lentils, and spices, but as vegetarianism gained traction in India, the popular fillings shifted towards potatoes, peas, and spices.
Samosas quickly became a cherished street food snack across India, reflecting the country's diverse culinary landscape. Different regions put their unique spin on the samosa, resulting in various regional variations. Today, samosas come in multiple flavours and sizes, ranging from spicy and savoury to sweet and dessert-like.
In the Arab countries near the Mediterranean, the semi-circular "sambusak" reigns supreme. These delightful creations boast a filling that tantalizes the taste buds with a blend of minced chicken or meat, complemented by the flavours of onion, feta cheese, and spinach. The Mediterranean breeze infuses a unique charm into this variation, making it a beloved regional snack.
Maldivian cuisine introduces us to "bajiyaa," a unique rendition of the samosa. These flavorful parcels feature a mixture that includes fish or tuna and onions, showcasing the rich marine bounty of the Maldives. Bajiyaa stands as a testament to the culinary diversity that samosas offer worldwide.
Travelling to Indonesia, we discover samosas seamlessly integrated into the local culinary tapestry. Known as 'samosa' in the region, they surprise the taste buds with fillings that may include potato, cheese, curry, rousong, or noodles, all adapted to local preferences. These savoury treats are often enjoyed as snacks, accompanied by the spicy kick of sambal. Indonesian samosas share similarities with other local delights such as pastel, panada, and epok-epok, showcasing the diverse range of pastry pockets in the archipelago.
In the Turkic-speaking countries of Central Asia, the "somsa" takes a distinctive turn by being baked rather than fried. These savoury pastries feature a favoured filling of minced lamb and onion, though variations with cheese, beef, and pumpkin also enjoy widespread popularity. Somsa embodies the heartiness of Central Asian cuisine and stands as a testament to the region's culinary ingenuity.
The "sambusa" is a significant staple food in the Horn of Africa, particularly in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea. This cherished snack is traditionally served during special occasions such as Ramadan, Christmas, and other festive celebrations. The filling often includes a delightful combination of ingredients, making it a true celebration of flavour in this culturally rich region.
If the global varieties of samosas inspire you, why not try making them at home? Here's a simple recipe for traditional Indian potato and pea samosas.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups boiled and mashed potatoes
1 cup boiled peas
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
Salt to taste
Oil for frying
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and vegetable oil. Gradually add water to make a firm dough. Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan. Add cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Once they start spluttering, add turmeric powder, garam masala, and salt.
Add the mashed potatoes and boiled peas to the spice mixture. Mix well and cook for a few minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool.
Divide the dough into small, equal-sized balls. Roll each ball into a thin oval or circle.
Cut each oval in half to create two semi-circles. Fold each semi-circle into a cone shape, sealing the edges with a little water.
Fill each cone with the potato and pea mixture, then seal the open end by pinching the edges together.
Heat oil for frying in a deep pan. Fry the samosas until they are golden brown and crisp.
Serve hot with your favourite chutney or sauce.