Samosa sails smoothly around globe

by Suchitra Srinivas

Among Italian pizza and Lasagna, Chinese noodles, Mexican burritos, French soup and toast, the Indian samosa has become a popular choice at parties. Mind you, these are not merely Indian gatherings we are talking about but the American and multiethnic parties which have earmarked a special place for the samosas.

If there is one thing that got a firm footing on the foreign soil without worrying over visa, it could be samosa. Feeling like a real hero of a party, this desi snack is gaining popularity across the foreign shores. 

The story of samosa is indeed an interesting fit in an immigrant’s life.  Its smooth sail and ability to integrate well with the Indian identity abroad have been beyond question of late. Interestingly, the samosa is no stranger to a party menu list in the West anymore.

November is a festive season in the US — Thanksgiving, Christmas and year-end parties. The finest thing about these festivals is that offices, schools, colleges and even homes get loaded with fun and parties. 

These parties attended by multi-ethnic identities invariably have a collection of food items from different parts of the world to adorn the table. When it comes to Indian food option, samosa finds a place.

Being easy to handle is a major score point for this Indian delicacy among Western connoisseurs. The ‘no messy fingers’ food is an obvious attraction that passes the test to qualify for the table ubiquitous. The flavor and aroma of samosa are no doubt friendly, unique and welcoming.

Mind you, these are not merely Indian gatherings we are talking about but the general Western audience palate that has earmarked a special place for the samosas.

Among Italian pizza and Lasagna, Chinese noodles, Mexican burritos, French soup and toast, samosa is a preferred popular choice, when it comes to gorging.

Talk about a party, the concerns will always revolve around catering to the diversity. The easy choice for the South Asian food options would be noodles and samosa. The latter is popular as its spicy filling is enough to balance the taste buds, feel many.

Our school year parties always used to be pizza and burgers but of late, teachers and staff have started demanding samosas, said a PTA mom, Bhavani Ramanathan.

“Ten years ago, at a school heritage event my son chose to take samosa to the school.  It was such a hit that since then that almost all the staff and teachers have made it a point to include this item in every year’s list. Vegetables stuffed fried dumplings feels yummy in my tummy, is the common expression from the western participants,” said Sonia Ravindran.

Incidentally, at a time when pizzas and burgers are jostling with each other to become a favorite food option in India, this side of the globe is busy popularizing samosas. A narrative that needs to be shared.

A matter of pride indeed. The reasons behind this feeling may be inexplicable but understandable. When Westerners, completely different when it comes to culture, acknowledge samosa, it does leave a warmth in the hearts of the hosts.

“Can’t forget the childhood excitement when samosas used to be a north Indian snack. It was so rare and a one-time event to eat these in restaurants during those days,” recollected Santhanam Ramanathan, now in his 60s. “My mother used to bait me with the mouth-watering delicacy or as a reward for scoring well in my exams,” said a nostalgic Sanjana Rajesh, now a techie in her 40s.

They come in all shapes and sizes! Tiny, little, the mini and the triangular samosas — these are the popular name-calling the desi delicacy enjoys. Costco, a favorite retail shop that Americans largely use, takes the credit for stocking Indian samosa in its aisle of frozen foods, thus making it popular.

Fresh samosas can be bought at Indian restaurants and snack shops. Frozen samosa comes in many fillings – from regular potato-peas to the exotic Jalapeno (pronounced Halapeno)-Cheese. Renu Chopra who is always called upon to bring a platter of samosas to the parties at her office in Long Island reports that most of her American colleagues now like Jalapeno-Cheese, which is spicier than the other varieties.

Of course, the fun of eating samosa on a roadside shop is not a reality, yet, here. Barring a few food cart shops, food vendors on the road are a rarity in the US. 

The fun of eating in the open air fast food joints is yet to become a popular culture. If samosas could make a stride this long, may be the day is not far off when roadside shops will spring in the US soon.

Tracing the journey of samosas, one would be perplexed to find that samosas have traveled much far in the history. Though originally a Persian food, it entered the geographies of India in the west, traveled slowly through the rest of India. 

Now, it has made its entry into the Western world, with a strong Indian identity. Samosa’s sail across the globe could not have been smoother.

Image courtesy of thesatimes | Welcome to The South Asian Times

Share this post