The samosa in its current shape is understood to have been an import to India, rather than a dish that originated in the country entirely. With varieties found across the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, the samosa is thought to have been popularized in India around the 13th century by visiting Muslim merchants and later by Islamic dynasties that set up empires in the subcontinent.
Made with a crisp outer covering of wheat or maida flour and stuffed with a masala-rich mix of cooked vegetables, meat or even lentils and dry fruits, the standard Indian samosa is usually fried, deep fried or more rarely so, baked. They are paired with flavourful chutneys – usually of mint or tamarind – or sweet and spicy sauces, and are a wonderful accompaniment to chai.
Samosas differ a great deal across the various regions of India. The typical Punjabi samosa has a stuffing made of potatoes and peas, whereas Gujarati variants add in cabbage and Bengali samosa – also known as singara – add cauliflower and peanuts to the mix. Non-vegetarians may enjoy keema samosas while those with a sweet tooth may enjoy versions of the snack with dry fruit, jaggery and dry lentils.
While you can find samosas in every city, small town or village in the country, there are few establishments scattered across the country which are particularly renowned for their version of the snack. Delhi, arguably the champion of the samosa among India’s cities, has quite a few reputable samosa stalls – including the Munni Lal Frontier Samosa Waale, Manohar Dhaba and Kallans Sweets, among others.
If you are in Kolkata and looking to try singara, the local variant, then Tewari Sweets in Bara Bazaar is among your finest options. If you are in Bangalore, try the popular onion samosa – best had to Albert Bakery in Frazer town – while anyone looking for a samosa in Mumbai should try Guru Kripa’s samosa platter where the snack comes with rich and flavorful chole and bhaturas.