Asian Siblings

The samosa is the quintessential Indian snack. The Oxford Companion to Food describes samosas as small, crispy, flaky pastries made in India, usually fried but sometimes baked. It is found all over in India in numerous regional variations ranging from the spicy North Indian variety to the Bengali mishti shingara that is filled with sweetened reduced milk.

North Indian(or Punjabi) samosas are large and plump with a filling made of spicy mashed potatoes and peas. It is quite common to enrich the stuffing with raisins, cashews or peanuts. The pastry is thicker compared to its counterparts found in other parts of India and is traditionally deep-fried in pure ghee.

The Gujarati samosa on the other hand are tiny triangles of thin, crispy pastry filled with different kinds of vegetables ranging form sweet peas to diced French beans. The non-vegetarian versions of the Gujarati samosa are just as crispy with a spicy minced meat fillings.

In Bengal the samosa is called shingara perhaps due to their triangular shape recalling the water chestnut. The Bengali shingara is made with a light puff-pastry that melts away to release the flavors of subtly seasoned potatoes or cauliflower. The mishti or kheerer shingara is stuffed with sweetened reduced milk while the labongo lotika, is a khoya-stuffed samosa secured with cloves(labango) and dipped in syrup.

The nawabi cuisine of Hyderabad has its own version of the samosa--the lukhmi is an exotic royal cousin of the samosa, whose soft, rich coating is achieved by adding a generous dollop of yogurt to the dough.



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Disassembly of a Samosa