Sunday, February 26, 2012

THE FRIED GOLDEN TRIANGLE- History and Controversies of Samosa

The father of all Indian snack: Samosa
THE FRIED GOLDEN TRIANGLE- History and Controversies of Samosa
Samosas are perhaps the most popular vegetarian (usually) snack you will see in India, you will notice them all over the country from small tea hut to big mall selling branded samosas. In India only you may find number of different types of samosas. The North Indian samosa contains a maida flour shell stuffed with a mixture of mashed boiled potato, onion, green peas, spices and green chili; however, meat-stuffed samosas are very common and popular in Indan town with Muslim population and all over the in Pakistan. The entire pastry is then deep fried to a golden brown colour, in vegetable oil. It is served hot and is often eaten with fresh Indian chutney, such as mint, coriander or tamarind. It can also be prepared as a sweet form, rather than as a savory one. Samosas are often served in Chaat(a kind of street food,mixture of lot of condiments,fried snacks,onion,lemon etc) along with the traditional accompaniments of yogurt, chutney, chopped onions and coriander, and Chaat masala.
In Southern part of India, samosas are slightly different, in that they are folded in a different way more like Portuguese chamu├žas, with a different style pastry. The filling also differs, typically featuring mashed potatoes with spices, fried onions, peas, carrots, cabbage, curry leaves, green chillies, etc.. It is mostly eaten without chutney. Samomas in South of India come in different sizes, and fillings are greatly influenced by the local food habits. Samosas made with spiced mashed potato mixture are quite popular in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Home made,are not very crispy 
The Samosa probably traveled to India along ancient trade routes from Central Asia. Small, crisp mince-filled triangles that were easy to make around the campfire during night halts, then conveniently packed into saddlebags as snacks for the next day's journey. According to The Oxford Companion to Food, the Indian samosa is merely the best known of an entire family of stuffed pastries or dumplings popular from Egypt and Zanzibar to Central Asia and West China. Arab cookery books of the 10th and 13th Centuries refer to the pastries as sanbusak (the pronunciation still current in Egypt, Syria, & Lebanon), sanbusaq or sanbusaj, all reflecting the early medieval form of the Persian word: sanbosag. Claudia Roden (1968) quotes a poem by Ishaq ibn Ibrahim-al-Mausili (9th Century) praising the sanbusaj. By the early 14th Century, it was not only a part of Indian cuisine but also food fit for a king. Amir Khusrao, prolific poet of Delhi royalty, observed in 1300 that the royal set seemed partial to the "samosa prepared from meat, ghee, onion and so on".

 In 1334, the renowned traveller Ibn Battuta wrote about the sambusak: "minced meat cooked with almonds, pistachios, onions and spices placed inside a thin envelop of wheat and deep-fried in ghee". And the samosa obtained a royal stamp with its inclusion in the Ain-i-Akbari which declared that among dishes cooked with wheat there is the qutab, "which the people of Hind called the sanbusa".
Samosas ready for deep frying, McLeodganj, India
Roadside vender selling Samosas and other snacks, New Delhi
In July,2011, this snack item has been banned in Somalia by Islamist militants. The al-Shabab group, which has imposed the ban, states that the samosa is by and large a Christian symbolism, considering its triangular shape, closely relating to the Christian holy trinity. Moreover, the al Qaeda-linked militant group claims that the triangular shape of the food item is not in adherence with the Islamic laws.
Somali women selling Samosa before 2011 ban, Somalia 
The ban has been confirmed by Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper, which reports that supply of samosas (called sambusas in Africa) have already been stopped in and around the small towns of Somalia and its capital Mogadishu, for fear of extremist repercussions.
Is the samosa a symbol of western culture?   
Chronicling through history, the ban on samosas for its non-islamic nature is utterly paradoxical.The fried snacks have been popular in Eastern Africa, for centuries.The word samosa derives its name from the Persian “sanbosag”, and “sambusak” in Arabic. Tracing its origin to Central Asia, the snacks has been depicted as a “stuffed pie stuffed with minced meat, almonds, pistachio, walnuts and spices” served before the third course of a meal. The samosa was then brought to South Asian countries, India through Muslim traders, where it gained widespread popularity.  These triangular puffs are traveler-friendly, edible staples, adorning the South Asian snacks-platter. As history sheds light, samosa seems to have grown roots in the Muslim culinary culture and its flavor and favorability transcended culture and continents to be a coveted and cherished snack item across the world. That any food should be accused of ethnic origins,  by depraved extremist groups deprived of humanity, pushing a famine-sticken land to the throes of mass-death;  is testimony to the fact that the present mindless acts are definitely not carrying forward a golden legacy in the name of religion. It clearly defies all religious conventions, to be inhuman and even more to mete out atrocities, which claim to idolize a religion!
Tantric Origin of Samosa:
The morphology of fried samosa, also called singhara in Eastern India, in places like Calcutta,Guhawati, is same as that of Indian water chest nut, also known as Singhara. Water chestnut is used in Hindu rituals for worship of Divine Shakti in form of Goddess Mother.Singhara, water chestnut, is found in abundance in Bengal (ponds) and Kashmir (lakes). These were the two major centres of Tantra tradition in India and surprising. It is possible that since triads/triangle are so much in abundance in tantra philosophy that the triangular morphology of Singhara fruit was found to be apt to describe abstruse concepts. Triangular shape of samosa and name Singhara suggests some mystical link between tantra and samosa 


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