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Culinary Corner: Singara or Samosa has it lineage from West Asia – Samusak

25/05/2020 at 4:03 PM

Singara & Samosa a popular snack in India vi-a-vis in Odisha. The ubiquitous Samosa interestingly does not have its origin from India. The earliest reference, which we have, is from an Arab Cookbook dating back to 11th Century – referred as Sambusak. This is a popular snack among the Arab travelers as in India. A triangular shape savoury pastry/bread filled with different kinds of mince fillings.

The word refers to – three sided flat bread or in a refined way a savoury puff pastry. It was popular among the travellers as it helped them to carry while travelling. The Baghdadi cook book – Kitab al-Tabikh (The Book of Dishes) gives a detailed version of three types Sambushak – a popular snack during the thirteenth century. The first one was with meat, the second one with almonds, and the third for the sweet tooth.  All the fillings were minced wrapped with flour sheet/bread and deep-fried.

The Sambusak, Sanbosag and Sanbusaq as it is referred were a common accompaniment with the Arabs during their travels in the old silk route. It landed in India when the Arabs started trading along the coast of India.

In the 14th century CE Moroccan Traveller – IbnButtata has mentioned that in the court of Muhammad Bind Tughluq, Sambusak was served – a small three sided pie filled up with minced meat, almonds and different varieties of nuts & spices. Abul – FazlBehaqi one of the navratnas in Akbar’s court during the 16th Century CE has mentioned about Sanbusa or Qutab, which is served as a snack in the great courts. As per the recorded recipe and history this was a pastry filled with minced meats, nuts and dried fruits. This was fried till it attained the right crispiness and served hot in the great courts.

Chowmein Samosa

Today we find many variants of Samosa (the word got diluted with Shambusak) in India. The most popular are the fillings consisting of potato along with other vegetables and nuts. But this variant is a recent adoption as potatoes came to India in the 17th century CE. Thus this street variant recipe is a recent phenomenon. Today we have so many local variants – Singara in West Bengal & Odisha: Patti Samosa in Gujarat: Paneer Samosa in Punjab: Or the connoisseur ones – Chowmein or Pasta Samosa. 

Compiled by: Satyanarayan Mohapatra

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