Samosa(s)
Samosas with chutney in India.
Alternative namesSambusa, samusa,[1] siṅgaṛā/siṅāṛā
TypeSavoury pastry
CourseEntrée, side dish, snack
Region or stateSouth Asia, the Middle East, East Africa, Central Asia, South East Asia
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsFlour, vegetables (e.g. potatoes, onions, peas, lentils), spices, chili peppers, mince, and cheese.

A samosa (/səˈmsə/) is a fried South Asian[2] pastry with a savoury filling, including ingredients such as spiced potatoes, onions, peas, meat, or fish. It may take different forms, including triangular, cone, or half-moon shapes, depending on the region.[3][4][5] Samosas are often accompanied by chutney, and have origins in medieval times or earlier.[3] Sweet versions are also made. Samosas are a popular entrée, appetizer, or snack in the cuisines of South Asia, the Middle East, Central Asia, East Africa and their South Asian diasporas.

Etymology

The English word samosa derives from the Hindustani word samosa (Urdu: سموسہ, Hindi: समोसा),[6] traceable to the Middle Persian word sanbosag (سنبوسگ)[7] 'triangular pastry'.[8] Similar pastries are called sambusak in Arabic; medieval Arabic recipe books sometimes spell it sambusaj.[9]

History

Persian manuscript Nimatnama-i-Nasiruddin-Shahi explaining how samosas should be cooked
Medieval Indian cookbook with Persian manuscript Nimatnama-i-Nasiruddin-Shahi (c. 16th century) showing samosas being served

The South Asian samosa is believed to be derived from a medieval precursor from the Middle East[10][11] that was baked and not fried. The earliest mention of a samosa precursor was by Abbasid-era poet Ishaq al-Mawsili, praising the sanbusaj. Recipes are found in 10th–13th-century Arab cookery books, under the names sanbusak, sanbusaq, and sanbusaj, all deriving from the Persian word sanbosag. In Iran, the dish was popular until the 16th century, but by the 20th century its popularity was restricted to certain provinces (such as the sambusas of Larestan).[3] Abolfazl Beyhaqi (995–1077), an Iranian historian, mentioned it in his history, Tarikh-e Beyhaghi.[12]

The Central Asian samsa was introduced to the Indian subcontinent in the 13th or 14th century by chefs from the Middle East and Central Asia who cooked in the royal kitchens for the rulers of the Delhi Sultanate.[13] Amir Khusro (1253–1325), a scholar and the royal poet of the Delhi Sultanate, wrote around 1300 CE that the princes and nobles enjoyed the "samosa prepared from meat, ghee, onion, and so on".[14] Ibn Battuta, a 14th-century traveler and explorer, describes a meal at the court of Muhammad bin Tughluq, where the samushak or sambusak, a small pie stuffed with minced meat, almonds, pistachios, walnuts and spices, was served before the third course of pulao.[15] Nimatnama-i-Nasiruddin-Shahi, a medieval Indian cookbook started for Ghiyath Shah, the ruler of the Malwa Sultanate in central India, mentions the art of making samosa.[16] The Ain-i-Akbari, a 16th-century Mughal document, mentions the recipe for qottab, which it says, "the people of Hindustan call sanbúsah".[17]

Regional varieties

India

The samosa is prepared with an all-purpose flour (locally known as maida) and stuffed with a filling, often a mixture of diced and cooked or mashed boiled potato, onions, green peas, lentils, ginger, spices and green chili.[18][19] A samosa can be vegetarian or non-vegetarian, depending on the filling. The entire pastry is deep-fried in vegetable oil or (rarely) ghee to a golden brown. It is served hot, often with fresh green chutney, such as mint or coriander chutney, or tamarind chutney. It can also be prepared in a sweet form. Samosas are often served in chaat (a type of street food), along with the traditional accompaniments of either a chickpea or a white pea preparation, drizzled with yogurt, tamarind chutney and green chutney, and garnished with chopped onions, coriander, and chaat masala.

In the Indian states of Assam, Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand, singaras or singras (চিংৰা)[20] (the East Indian version of samosas) are popular snacks found almost everywhere. They are a bit smaller than in other parts of India, with a filling consisting chiefly of cooked diced potato, peanuts, and sometimes raisins.[18] Shingras are wrapped in a thin sheet of dough (made of all-purpose flour) and fried. Good shingras are distinguished by flaky textures akin to that of a savory pie crust.

Singaras may be eaten as a tea-time snack. They can also be prepared in a sweet form. Bengali singaras tend to be triangular, filled with potato, peas, onions, diced almonds, or other vegetables, and are more heavily fried and crunchier than other singaras or their samosa cousins. Singara filled with cauliflower mixture is a popular variation. Non-vegetarian varieties of singaras are mutton singaras and fish singaras. There are also sweet versions, such as coconut singara, as well as others filled with khoya and dipped in sugar syrup that are known as Mishti Shingara.

In the city of Hyderabad, a smaller version of samosa with a thicker pastry crust and minced meat filling, referred to as lukhmi,[18] is consumed, as is another variation with an onion filling.

In the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, samosas are slightly different, being folded differently, more like Portuguese chamuças, with a different style of pastry. The filling also differs, typically featuring mashed potatoes with spices, fried onions, peas, carrots, cabbage, curry leaves, and green chilis, and is mostly eaten without chutney. Samosas in South India are made in different sizes, whose fillings are influenced by local food habits, and may include meat.

Bangladesh

Bangladeshi samosas, snack food

Both flat-shaped (triangular) and full-shaped (tetrahedron/triangular pyramid) samosas are popular snacks in Bangladesh. A Bengali version of the full-shaped samosa is called a সিঙাড়া (shingara) and is normally smaller than the standard variety. The shingara is usually filled with pieced potatoes, vegetables, nuts, etc. However, shingaras filled with beef liver are very popular in some parts of the country. The flat-shaped samosa is called a somosa or somucha, and is usually filled with onions and minced meat.

Nepal

Samosas are called singadas in the eastern zone of Nepal; the rest of the country calls it samosa. As in India, it is a very popular snack in Nepalese cuisine. Vendors sell the dish in various markets and restaurants.

Pakistan

Samosas of various types are available throughout Pakistan. In general, most samosa varieties sold in the southern Sindh province and in the eastern Punjab, especially the city of Lahore, are spicier and mostly contain vegetable or potato-based fillings. However, the samosas sold in the west and north of the country mostly contain minced meat-based fillings and are comparatively less spicy. The meat samosa contains minced meat (lamb, beef, or chicken) and is very popular as a snack food in Pakistan.

In Pakistan, the samosas of Karachi are famous for their spicy flavour, whereas samosas from Faisalabad are noted for being unusually large. Another distinct variety of samosa, available in Karachi, is called kaghazi samosa (Urdu: کاغذی سموسہ; "paper samosa" in English) due to its thin and crispy covering, which resembles a wonton or spring roll wrapper. Another variant, popular in Punjab, consists of samosas with side dishes of mashed spiced chickpeas, onions, and coriander leaf salad, as well as various chutneys to top the samosas. Sweet samosas are also sold in the cities of Pakistan including Peshawar; these sweet samosas contain no filling and are dipped in thick sugar syrup.

Another Pakistani snack food, which is popular in Punjab, is known as "samosa chaat". This is a combination of a crumbled samosa, along with spiced chickpeas (channa chaat), yogurt, and chutneys. Alternatively, the samosa can be eaten on its own with a side of chutney.

In Pakistan, samosas are a staple Iftar food for many Pakistani families, during the month of Ramzan.

Maldives

The types and varieties of samosa made in Maldivian cuisine are known as bajiyaa. They are filled with a mixture including fish like tuna and onions.[21]

Similar snacks

Similar snacks and variants of samosas are found in many other countries. They are derived either from the South Asian somasa or are derived from the medieval precursor that originated in the Middle East.

Central Asia

Main article: Samsa (food)

Southeast Asia

Myanmar (Burma)

Burmese-style samusa can be smaller than their Indian counterparts.

Samosas are called samuza (စမူဆာ) in Burmese, and are an extremely popular street snack in Burma. Samosas are also used in a traditional Burmese salad, called samuza thoke (စမူဆာသုပ်‌; lit.'samosa salad'), a salad of cut samosa pieces with onions, cabbage, fresh mint, light potato and chickpea curry broth, masala, chili powder, salt and lime.[22]

Indonesia

Indonesian-style samosa identified as kue kering.

In Indonesia, samosas are locally known as samosa, filled with potato, cheese, curry, rousong or noodles as adapted to local taste. They are usually served as a snack with sambal. Samosa is almost similar to Indonesian pastel, panada and epok-epok.

Africa

East Africa

Samosas are also a key part of East African food often seen in Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.

Ethiopia

The variety of samosa made in Ethiopian cuisine is known as "sambusa" or lentil "sambusa" (Amharic: የምሥር ሳምቡሳ) and is filled with lentils along with usually being blended with traditional spices. Due to it being vegan, it is often consumed during Ethiopian Orthodox fasts.

Somali sambuus being deep-fried

Samosas are also a staple of local cuisine in the fellow Horn of Africa countries of Djibouti and Somalia, where they are known as sambuuse.

South Africa

Called samoosas in South Africa,[23][24] they tend to be smaller than Indian variants,[25] and form part of South African Indian and Cape Malay cuisine.

West Africa

Samosas also exist in West African countries such as Ghana and Nigeria where they are a common street food. In Nigeria, it is usually served in parties along with chicken or beef, puff puff, spring rolls and plantains and are called small chops.

Mascarenes

Samosas, locally called samoussas, are a popular snack on Réunion and Mauritius as both islands have faced large waves of labor immigration from the Indian subcontinent. The samosas there are generally smaller and filled with chicken, cheese, crabs or potatoes. There are also varieties such as chocolate and banana or pizza. [26]

Middle East

Israel

Sambusak (Hebrew: סמבוסק) come in several distinct forms, as sambusak has been influenced differently by Sephardic and Mizrahi cuisine. Sephardi sambusak are generally thicker, baked, and are stuffed with either cheese or beef and coated with sesame or nigella seeds. Mizrahi sambusak are generally thinner, larger, fried, and stuffed with curry-spiced chickpea and onion, and are usually not coated with seeds.[27][28][29][30][31]

Arab countries

Sambousek

Sambousek (Arabic: سمبوسك) are usually filled with either meat, onion, pine nuts, Za’atar, or cheese. They are widely consumed in the holy month of Ramadan.

Iran

Sambuseh at a bazar in Ahvaz, Iran

Sambuseh (Persian: سمبوسه) can often be found in the southern regions of Iran and rarely in other areas. However, traditionally it used to be made in the form of qottab filled with ground nuts (usually, walnuts), sugar, fragrant herbs or spices, and likewise fried in oil. It is used as a confectionary and quite commonly. When meat is used, it is no longer called qottab, but made spicy (contrary to nearly all other Persian culinary products). This is all that remains of the old "sanbusag" in its ancient homeland. Nowadays, Iranian Sambuseh is often made with a sausage and pizza cheese based filling; however, a vegetable-based variety also exists.

Portuguese-speaking regions

In Goa (India) and Portugal, samosas are known as chamuças. They are usually filled with chicken, beef, pork, lamb or vegetables, and generally served quite hot. Samosas are an integral part of Goan and Portuguese cuisine, where they are a common snack.

A samosa-inspired snack is also very common in Brazil, and relatively common in several former Portuguese colonies in Africa, including Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe, Angola, and Mozambique, where they are more commonly known as pastéis (in Brazil) or empadas (in Portuguese Africa; in Brazilian Portuguese, empada refers to a completely different snack, more like a two-crust pie, always baked, small in size, and in the form of an inverse pudding).

English-speaking regions

Samosas are popular in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Guyana, Uganda, South Africa, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania, and are also growing in popularity in Canada,[32][33] and the United States. They may be called samboosa or sambusac, but in South Africa, they are often called samoosa.[34] Frozen samosas are increasingly available from grocery stores in Australia, Canada, the United States,[35] and the United Kingdom, where they are also frequently sold fresh by local Indian and Pakistani street market vendors.

Variations using filo,[36] or flour tortillas[37] are sometimes found.

Al-Shabaab's samosa ban

Al-Shabaab, the extremist group controlling parts of Somalia, banned samosas in 2011 because the triangular shape could represent the Christian holy trinity, as well as over concerns about the possible use of rotten meat in the filling. [38]

See also

  • Samsa – Savoury pie
  • Aloo pie – Trinidadian fast food dish
  • Bourekas – Filled pastry in Sephardic Jewish cuisine
  • Chebureki – Crimean Tatar deep-fried turnover
  • Cornish pasty – Cornish pastry filled with meat or vegetables
  • Curry puff – Pastry with curry filling
  • Fatayer – Arab meat pie
  • Kibbeh – Levantine dish of ground meat and bulgur
  • Jiaozi – Chinese dumplings
  • List of snack foods from the Indian subcontinent
  • List of stuffed dishes – Foods prepared with fillings and stuffings
  • Lukhmi – Type of samosa of Hyderabad, India
  • Momo – Dumpling in Tibetan and Nepali cuisine
  • Pastel (food) – Name given to different typical sugary dishes of many countries of Hispanic or Portuguese origin
  • Turnover – Pastry with a filling on a single piece of dough which has been folded over and sealed
  • Uchpuchmak – Tatar and Bashkir national dish
  • Vada pav – Indian fast food item

References

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  3. ^ a b c Davidson, Alan (1999). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-211579-0.
  4. ^ Arnold P. Kaminsky; Roger D. Long (23 September 2011). Middle East Today: An Encyclopedia of Life in the Republic. ABC-CLIO. p. 151. ISBN 978-0-313-37462-3. Archived from the original on 27 May 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
  5. ^ Reza, Sa’adia (18 January 2015). "Food's Holy Triangle". Dawn. Archived from the original on 28 October 2018. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  6. ^ "Samosa".
  7. ^ Lovely triangles Archived 8 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine Hindustan Times, 23 August 2008.
  8. ^ Nişanyan - Türkçe Etimolojik Sözlük: Samsa. accessed: 26 April 2021.
  9. ^ Rodinson, Maxime, Arthur Arberry, and Charles Perry. Medieval Arab cookery. Prospect Books (UK), 2001. p. 72.
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  16. ^ M Bloom, Jonathan (2009). The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture Vol 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 236. ISBN 978-0-19-530991-1.
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  38. ^ Samosas Banned: Islamist Group Calls The Pastry 'Offensive', Huffington Post, 07/29/2011