City Food – Bittu’s Moong Dal Samosa, Tiraha Bairam Khan
An unusual samosa.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
There’s more than one Eiffel Tower in the world. They are in Hangzhou, Slobozia, Tokyo, Les Vegas, Blackpool, and there’s one in our Delhi too.
The purists however insist that the true Eiffel is in Paris. That’s like claiming that the true samosa consists of potato filling. But a Chandni Chowk shop makes samosas stuffed with green peas. A Connaught Place restaurant makes samosas stuffed with kabuli chhole.. A bobo coffeeshop makes baked (not deep-fried!) samosas stuffed with arbi. Then there’s a place in New Moti Nagar that makes more than 20 types of samosas, one of which is stuffed with cheese and corn.
It is in this spirit of infinite possibilities that you ought to try this most unusual samosa in an old Delhi shop — it is stuffed with moong dal. It has to be among the tastiest samosas in Delhi today.
So light and so plain, moong dal is the flavour of home, while the oily rich samosa is the taste of street. A marriage of these two have the potential to offer the best of both worlds. And this samosa successfully accomplishes that mission. The outer casing of the deep-fried pastry is as crispy, salty and guilt-laden as any sinful indulgence. Inside lies the welcoming cosiness of simple non-spicy boiled moong. In a way, moong dal samosa symbolises our current Zoom-driven WFH (work from home) lifestyle: tie and collared shirt paired with homey shorts.
The other remarkable aspect of this moong dal samosa is the shop, which stocks other fried stuff too. It looks utterly unremarkable, here in Old Delhi’s Tiraha Bairam Khan. The shop doesn’t even have a banner, and is simply known as Bittu. That’s the late owner’s name (real name Harish Batra). Opened 60 years ago by his father, Khushi Ram Halwai, it is currently managed by the founder’s grandson (and Bittu’s son) Sumit Batra—sometimes you also see his mother, Sushma. Bittu-ji passed away in 2000.
Samosas are made 1.30pm onwards, by cook Omveer, and are available till 8pm. Priced at 6 rupees a piece.