City Food – Samosa, Delite Cinema & Scindia Lane
Delhi’s biggest and smallest samosas.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
What is Delhi without its tombs? What is a samosa without its potatoes? Boil it, mash it, mix in the spices, scoop it up into a flour casing, deep-fry and serve it with tamarind chutney.
But although the potato and samosa are almost synonymous, there is more to a samosa than the tuber. A few stalls in Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk have samosas with peas alone. The Embassy restaurant in the colonial-era Connaught Place has a special samosa filled with buttery chickpeas. The Muslim quarters in Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti and Ballimaran have stalls selling keema (minced meat) samosas, with the vegetarians gamely opting for a spicy paneer (cottage cheese) filling.
Mithai stores such as the Bengali Sweet House in Bengali Market have tiny triangles of golden brown maida crust stuffed with nuts and spicy masala, or even sweetened khoya (dried milk); while Annapoorna, the true Bengali store in south Delhi’s Yusuf Sarai, serves the Calcutta cauliflower-potato version.
The Capital’s biggest samosa (see top picture), aptly called Maha Samosa, is a specialty found in Delite, the 1951 circa movie theater on the fringes of the Walled City. You will have to buy a movie ticket to get to the samosa counter. Beneath the crisp shell of this giant samosa lies a potato mixture so richly spiced with coriander and cumin that the aroma alone makes you dizzy. Delite’s samosas are so popular that the movie-watching crowd makes an advance booking for them to be delivered on their seats during the film interval. (One secret: the samosas sold upstairs in the balcony are more expensive than the ones sold downstairs in the front stall lobby but they are same!)
In a bylane near Scindia House, Connaught Place, vendors sell samosas that are small enough to be passed off as cocktail samosas in the party circuit. The potatoes, cooked with peas and groundnuts, and spiked with cardamom and black pepper, nestle within the hard flour exterior, which guards their flavour as the Mughals did their harem.
Samosa @ Delite