Let's give you a moment to digest this. What you just read may be true. Samosa, one of the most common street foods in India was not born in the country. At least that's what several historical accounts around the food make us believe. Samosas are undoubtedly one of the most beloved and iconic snacks in the world. These crispy, triangular pastries filled with a medley of flavours have captured the hearts and taste buds of people across cultures. While samosa is India's pride, delving into the annals of history reveals a different story that spans centuries and continents.
If not India, then where did samosa come from? Let's uncover the real origin of the samosa.
The Persian Connection: A Culinary Bridge
A simple Google search flashes several reports linking samosa to the Middle East, particularly Persia/Iran. Wikipedia writes that recipes similar to that of samosa were found in Arab cookery books dating back to the 10th-13th century. The snack was called many names - sanbusak, sanbusaq, and sanbusaj, all of which resembled the Persian word 'sanbosag'.
Heritage Activist and Author Vikramjit Singh Rooprai writes in one of his blogs that Abolfazl Beyhaqi, an Iranian historian, had mentioned the snack in his work Tarikh-e-Beyhaghi. This is probably the oldest reference to the dish, which led researchers to believe that samosa (or sanbosag) originated sometime before the 10th century in the Middle East.
The Persian Empire, with its rich culinary heritage, played a pivotal role in shaping the culinary landscape of Central Asia and neighbouring regions. Persian culinary techniques and flavours found their way into various cuisines, including the precursor to the samosa.
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The Emergence Of Samsa In Central Asia
To trace the samosa's roots, we must first journey to Central Asia, where a close cousin known as "samsa" emerged. These savoury pastries, often triangular in shape, were filled with a delectable mixture of minced meat, herbs, and spices. The word "samsa" itself is believed to be of Persian origin.
Many sources like "The Oxford Companion to Food" by Alan Davidson state that samsas have a well-documented presence in Central Asian cuisine, particularly in regions like Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. These early renditions were primarily meat-filled and baked in clay ovens or tandoors.
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The Indian Chapter: Samosas Find A New Home
The next chapter in the samosa's journey unfolds in the Indian subcontinent. It is widely accepted that the samosa made its way to India in the 16th century through Middle Eastern chefs travelling to India to serve the royals in the Mughal Empire.
India embraced the samosa with open arms. Here, the samosa underwent a transformation, becoming a beloved vegetarian snack filled with ingredients like potatoes, peas, and spices.
India's contribution to the samosa's evolution is undeniable. The addition of vegetarian fillings and a myriad of spices gave rise to the samosa's popularity as a versatile and mouthwatering snack.
And the rest is history!
About Neha GroverLove for reading roused her writing instincts. Neha is guilty of having a deep-set fixation with anything caffeinated. When she is not pouring out her nest of thoughts onto the screen, you can see her reading while sipping on coffee.