City Food – Maha Samosa, Delite Cinema
Delhi’s biggest samosa.
[Text and photos 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 maida 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. A restaurant in the colonial-era Connaught Place has a special samosa filled with buttery chickpeas. The cramped quarters in Ballimaran have stalls selling minced meat samosas, with the vegetarians gamely opting for a spicy paneer filling. Mithai stores in Bengali Market have tiny triangles of golden brown maida crust stuffed with nuts and spicy masala, or even sweetened khoya; while a shop in south Delhi’s Yusuf Sarai serves a cauliflower-potato version.
The capital’s biggest samosa, 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. “Many times, people coming for the night show call us on phone to confirm that samosas haven’t run out of stock,” says Mukti Ram, the gentleman in the snack counter. In fact, Mr Ram, who has been working in the cinema hall for 25 years, is another reason to come here. An extremely friendly man, his face often breaks into such cheery welcoming smiles that the saddest person ends up feeling lighter.
Some samosa romantics may not be inclined to force themselves to some ghastly movie playing at the theater. They can check into Bhaja Govindam, a restaurant in the cinema building. The maha samosa isn’t on the menu but you can cajole the waiter to get you one. It is made in the same kitchen.
And, most importantly, don’t forget to ask for a generous helping of the super tangy green chutney that they serve with the samosa.
Box office samosa