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Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Tryst with Samosas



The steam engine whistled loudly and bellowed out huge column of black smoke as the train entered a very small railway station called Kosi Kalan! It was a cold December morning as I heard the cries of ‘ Samosa’ , ‘Garam Samosa’( Hot Samosa)! My small face was pressed against the window of the train’s compartment as I called the hawker and my parents bought the piping hot samosas for me and my brothers for our indulgence! I was the eldest and must have been around five years old then! These are some memories of my first bites of this lovely snack with tamarind and coriander-mint chutney as accompaniment! We were on a trip to Mathura, the birth place of Lord Krishna and our native place!
I never imagined that this would be the beginning of my longest romance with any kind of food. Regardless, wherever I traveled, I soon realized that this fusion dish is a perfect blend of north, east, west and south India and any other food pales in comparison! A popular appetizer and a snack which has followers not only in all parts of India but world over and the variants of Samosas are available in many parts of Asia, Mediterranean,  Africa and finds acceptance globally in Europe, Americas and Australia also.
Samosa was an important element in the journey of life this far! In the growing years when I started going to school, I would  save money by walking to school instead of going by the bus to wait for the Samosa wala’ to bring steaming hot samosas  to  placate my salivating mouth. How many times I burnt my inners of the mouth by misjudging the heat of the emanating steam. I learnt my lessons in Physics on ‘latent heat of the steam’ and its capacity to burn by those bites into the samosa.

Samosa continued to win all the battle of arguments on the coffee sessions in the college canteen and it was next to impossible not to find anyone who would not like the blissful food! Twice in the week the NCC parades would end with a coupon of snacks for which Samosa was the best deal!

From the college I landed into the Navy to fulfill my wish to see the world and make a career! My mother packed samosas filled with dried flavored dal ( lentil) and these could last for more than a fortnight without getting spoilt. The Naval Academy was very strenuous but even here the canteen in Kochi served my favorite ‘Samosas though a bit different in look and with a slightly different filling! The bruised and hurt body after long hours of drill and physical activity craved more for the samosas! I would still wait for my samosas to arrive from home during every Diwali and Holi festival while I was a bachelor, in the Navy. In my almost twenty year long service no farewell or party would be complete without finding the luscious looking samosas staring back at me as I would try to look away from them to win the ‘ battle of bulging waistline’

I travelled to many parts of the country and had the luck to flavor the best samosas which I recount here.
1. An evergreen shop of samosas at Panchkuian Road near the Lady Hardinge Hospital( now Sucheta Kriplani Hospital), near New Delhi , the owner was a well built mustached man from Frontier in Pakistan doling out huge samosas filled with potatoes and green peas. The only match for these were samosas in Hotel Ashok at New Delhi
2. Haldiram and Bikanerwala in Delhi make some lovely samosas with a filling of potatoes and dryfruits. Old Delhi has some places where samosas filled with filling of lamb and mutton are available, though have never tasted them
3. A very small sized samosas in Kanpur which can be stored for a month and still retain their flavor
4. In South India the samosas are available in every nook and corner and have mixed vegetable, potatoes, onions etc as a filling. In Maharashtra and Gujrat, too no ‘chaat’ is complete without a samosa . I lived in Goa whilst serving in the Navy and ‘Chamuchas’, a Portugese variant of the dish was popular and was usually filled with beef, pork and lamb!
5. In far east the samosas are referred to as ‘Singhara’ and for the best variety, ‘Tiwari’s’ at AJC Bose Road in Kolkata is not to be missed. Even some roadside food stalls sell excellent singharas. I tried some good singharas in Gauhati and Shillong too!
6. There is no town of UP , Bihar or Punjab where samosas don’t sell! I stayed in Patna for over eight months a few years back and had samosas for the dinner many a times from the vendor at Ashiana Road. Benaras, Mathura, Agra, Lucknow each town boasts of some of the best samosas!
7. Just after my marriage, I landed in Srinagar and soon after arriving I and my wife feasted on this lovely snack in Lal Chowk. We undertook a journey to Leh by road admiring the barren beauty to reach Kargil for a stopover at night. We were greeted by the Army Mess havaldar with a huge treat of samosas!
8. I waited outside the labor ward in Army Command Hospital at Pune while it rained incessantly through the night, eagerly waiting to hear the good news. Around 8.30AM I hopped to the canteen to get some samosas and the moment I returned I was informed by the nurse of the arrival of our daughter!
9. An Italian was working with me on a project a few years back and around lunch time we walked up to eat. On asking him what he would like, he answered, ‘Samosas’, his favorite.

I did a bit of international travel and was surprised to find the variants of samosas in Israel in streets of Tel Aviv being sold as ‘sambusak’ filled with chickpeas and onions. In New York, I landed in a small restaurant run by a Pakistani origin that made very delectable samosas. In Pakistan too different versions of Samosas filling of minced meat, chicken etc are available in most places. The ‘Patti samosas’ in Langkawi in Malaysia were a pleasant surprise! While on a trip to Bali in Indonesia I came across a variant of samosa with a filling of beef !    On a recent visit to Singapore , I was amazed to find half a dozen variants of ‘frozen samosas’ in Mustafa, the giant shopping mall!!

This wonder fusion food was brought to India in thirteenth century by traders from Central Asia and still finds a place of pride in every function be it a birthday, wedding, or any festival cutting across religious barriers and loved by all unequivocally and cementing the bonds of friendship universally!  Now I need not look far as my wife makes them for me at home!

PS: Image Kind  Courtesy Google

110 comments:

  1. I agree that Samoosas are one of the most popular snacks in the country. Maybe it should be christened as as National Snack !

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    1. Thanks a lot Rama! National snack, that was good one:)

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  2. Rahul.." Una cita con samosas "

    En ese viaje te ha faltado llegar a Argentina...se hacer para las fiestas patrias ricas empanadas de carne criollas...hasta la masa preparo, ademàs se acompaña con asado a la parrilla y achuras....eso que cuentas de quemarse al probarlas es terrible si no tienes a mano un vaso con vino o agua...para que no saquen ampollas jajjaj

    ¡¡¡ lindo relato !!!

    un beso

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    1. Muchas gracias por haber Dolly le gustaba leer acerca de este aperitivo. Estoy seguro de que tiene muchos alimentos se deleita en la Argentina también! Tiene una encantadora semana!

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  3. You are right, nobody can resist Samosas, especially with garma garam chai, winter, summer or the rains. I don't think it can go well with coffee, but with tea it is a sure hit. i remember eating samosa to my heart's content, while we lived in Agra, Delhi, Calcutta, Gauhati and other places, and even here in Bangalore we get excellent samosas. I liked the Irani Smaosas of Mumbai, those tiny ones filled with just onions and green chillies, which goes well with their Irani chai.
    Yesterday too we had samosas, which we had bought for our guests.
    All cheers to Samosas!

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    1. That was indeed nice to hear the samosa story after rejigging old memories from your end Rama! There are so many variations of this snack:)Cheers:)

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  4. That was a good tribute to everyone's favorite - samosas. No wonder it needed HC and SC's intervention in Pakistan :)

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    1. Thanks Insignia, and I too read about SC in Pakistan intervened to lay down minimum price of Samosa during this Ramazan:)

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  5. yummy! wish there were a tasty baked version, though :)

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    1. There are baked version as patties of the same, Ash! Try them out:)

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  6. Rahul you are a true,true samosa lover,so am i,but your knowledge on the snack is astounding....the heading & the picture lured me into reading it without delay...sadly here in Rajasthan samosas are chock-full of chillies & this destroys their taste completely with the result that i am deprived of my favorite snack.

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    1. A big thanks Indu for that compliment but it was more out of curiosity that I learnt this:)Rajasthani food is spicy and so I can understand what you say:)

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  7. Yummy! My mouth is watering after reading your post and am now fighting my hunger cravings for the samosas! travellers and food do go hand in hand. The best that I can recount having eaten are in Jaipur. I will try these places also that you have compiled here when (and if) I am there. Thanks for sharing this yum post. :)

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    1. Thanks a lot Arti! Jaipur has many very nice eating places where one can eat including LMB, Lakshmi Mishtan Bhandar , I agree:)

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  8. yay..I love samosa too so much,,I'm anyway much of a foodie..:D
    I'm gonna have it rgt now.
    Lovely write up ..got my mouth all watery...:D

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    1. That was really nice to learn Yashi, that Samosas tickle your food buds too:)Enjoy!

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  9. Nice post.Looks yummy. I haven't tried eating samosa.

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  10. Spent many a summer vacations travelling to Mathura,Agra,Bharatpur and we loved the Samosa-kachori-jalebi ka naashta as kids.BTW,filling of a Samosa is a breeze but I can never get the covering and the crust right.Lucky,your wife can make it at home.

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    1. Sharmila that entire route has many nice things to ioffer as you mentioned and it is difficult to resist these temptations:)Yes I am lucky for sure and I do try my hand on cooking once in a while too:)

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  11. Wow!..That's my favorite snack..esp irani samosas.....The picture is so tempting...Who will bring me samosas now :/

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    1. Oh you too like, Valli:) So there is lots of company of samosa lovers:) Thanks!

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  12. thats a snack i cannot resist...nice post Rahulji

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  13. Nice Read. But now, I have to rush out and have some samosas. I want samosas, and I want them now

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    1. I just realized that there are plenty of other samosa lovers besides me, Akanksha:)Thanks!

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  14. Beautiful piece. You don't know just how much I love Samosey. In fact I am really scared to go out for further study or job because I might not get my dosage of Samosey there.
    I feel a little relaxed after reading this article :D
    I had haldiram ke samosey in old delhi, and yes they are really fabulous. You won't believe me, I could really relate to burns :D
    Actually our school canteen used to serve most amazing samosey and they hardly reached the plate. Samosey jitne bhi ho, 2 second me saare fdost ek ek tukda lenge or samosey gaayab :D
    And now I'll have to get my samosey !! :D

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    1. Welcome to my blog and Am happy that this post could revive some old memories!Thanks!

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  15. Another edition to your list: The canteen of Delhi College of Engineering!! :-)

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    1. True Radhika! A lot of nice memories of DCE! Thanks a lot:)

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  16. When I went to London, we went to visit an 800 year old church in a small village. The shop over there were selling potato filled samosas which were quite tasty!

    Interesting 'samosa' story!

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    1. Wow Sandhya:) That must have been great! You know there is a small Indian restaurant even at foothills of Mount Titlis in Switzerland which sells Samosas:) Thank a lot!

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  17. I used to hate samosas but now that I am away from home I miss them!

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    1. Distance makes the heart grow fonder for food too, Ria:) Agree!

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  18. Thank you sir for your comments at my blog. Followed this one too :) I blog more often on kiranashraf.blogspot.com

    Samosas are like one of my fav especially the aloo waly samoosay :)

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    1. Thanks a lot Kiran and I liked your blog :)

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  19. I think samosas are delicious. Gosh Rahul dear friend, you must have eaten so many samosas in so many places, Indian cuisine is very delicious.
    xoxoxo ♡

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    1. Wow Dianne! You too like:) Thanks a lot!!

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  20. Hello.
    I love samosas, but don't eat them too often. This post is making me hungry (smile). Thanks for sharing.

    If you are free, come try your hand at the Lovers' Cove Challenge. All you need do is write a line of 15 words or less, BUT your line has to continue on in thought from the previous person in the Linky. For more, click here...

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    1. Welcome to my blog Andy!Thanks a lot for your kind invitation. Would surely try my luck:)

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  21. OMG ;) this post shows your true love towards the beautiful Samosa :D :) you made my mouth water Rahul sir :D lovely post on your indulgence :D lol...

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    1. The post has been written more lovingly than the real love of Samosas, Ramya:)This gives an impression of the huge food that I am ! Thanks a lot for those lovely words:0

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  22. Wish the humble Samosa could read this mouth-watering homage. Crisp, with a piquant filling and tamarind chutney, Samosa is food for the soul.

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    1. Thanks indeed for your equally tangy comment, Purba :) Wish the Samosa could read the post!!

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  23. Hmm, samosa has been a great life saver during my travels. Yeah, with spicy-sour chutneys yummy!

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    1. They come to rescue at many places Kusum:)

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  24. Can't help noticing how well travelled you are! The Tel Aviv sambusaks filled with chickpeas and onions sound intriguing. Didn't know samosas came from Central Asia - thought they were an Indian dish.

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    1. Thanks a lot KayEm for that kind remark! Happy you enjoyed the post:)

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  25. Wow!! I am very hungry now and will run to get samosa :)
    Yes, Samosa is available in farthest part of the world. And to mention I always enjoyed Samosa from 'Embankment' Station in London. It's too yummy so if you ever visit London and Embankment station then you can enjoy Samosa there. :)

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    1. Welcome to my blog and thanks for that nice comment! I know London has some excellent places that sell Indian food:) Will remember next time when I travel!

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  26. Mmm... I do love veggie samosas!

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  27. Oh My Rahulji! All along the only thing I wanted to do was to buy one and gobble it down! And the fact that you have pointed out the samosa stalls all over India, shows how much you love this snack, and how much you have travelled!!

    And how often we associate personal incidents with food. My lead in London took me out for the first time to know me well, and guess wht he treated me with. Samosas from Embankment(I second my blog world's comments) Loads of memories with this snack. And so very perfect is your post sir!

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    1. A big thanks for all those endearing comments Jenny!I totally agree food become an invisible bond with many associations.Embankement samosas I missed in London but hopefully another time I will have them:)Feel myself blessed to have readers like you:)

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  28. Not fair to be reading about samosas when office is over and I'm hungry. :-)

    Great post on the humble samosa, Rahul. Now, if you'll excuse me I'm going hunting for my own samosas and imli chutney. Mmm...

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    1. Am honored with your presence here, Sudha and imagine it was the humble samosa which brought you here:) A sincere thanks and hope I can offer you more similar treats!

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  29. Hi Rahul, I enjoyed your telling of your history of this well-loved snack. From reading about all the different types of samosas you've had in all the different regions, I can imagine that you are quite the connoisseur on the dish! Which of all these you've tried over the years has been your favourite? Samoosas are also popular here in South Africa, but we have taken our own spin on it, you get cheese and corn, jalapeño and asparagus samosas here. You can even buy the regular type frozen in supermarkets here! You are so lucky that in India the freshly made hot samosas are so widely available and sold. I know what I am making for dinner tonight, haha!

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    1. Guess who is coming for dinner tonite? Sam:)Am really lucky to have such nice readers like yourself who add so much more to this humble post with a new dimension from South Africa:) There is never ending learning in this world!A huge thanks and have a lovely dinner :)

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  30. I am in night shift and I am dead hungry and I see such an mouth watering post! What do I comment :|

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    1. Thanks Ramya! At least I made you feel hungry:)

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  31. ummm...I want some...now! mouth watering. Ugh! There is not one place which makes good samosas here. :( All they stuff is a lump of potato with few peas. The first time I saw samosas was in 6th grade when a vendor on the street put them in his bamboo basket and yelling, samose..samose. I would look at them in awe from the first floor of the building and how I wanted to eat them. That sight is still fresh in my memory. Enjoyed reading it and surprised how much association you have with the snack. :)

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    1. Thanks a lot for that kind comment!I did not realize that I will stir a whole lot of their sweet memories associated with samosas:)

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  32. Samosa -- my favorite snack. Just a few days back I made them at home that too with atta for the outer covering. It was yum. Muh mein paani aa gaya :).

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    1. Thanks Rachna to know learn about your multifaceted talents including cooking! I now know where to eat Samosas when I am in Bangalore:)

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  33. Anytime is a samosa time! Here in Oman, I am seeing them all over the streets to break the evening fast for Ramadan! Recently there was a bitter row over the price of the humble Samosa in Pakistan, Pakistanis will have to shell out more for samosas following a Supreme Court ruling! Your post is tempting me to make them at home today :-)

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    1. So true Padmaja, that anytime is Samosa time:)I too read the fascinating story of Pak SC intervention to fix minimum selling price of Samosa:)Thank you!

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  34. That was an exhaustive treatise on the samosa! Loved the picture and the taste of your first bite of the snack. I could almost taste it as a five-year-old you bit into it :) Only a connoisseur of the snack could have come out with this post.

    This is the best part of your blog -- your varied and interesting experiences on your travels round the world.

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    1. Ha, Ha, Zephyr - A treatise on Samosa! Without the rich comments from a reader like you this post would be like a dark cloud minus the silver lining!A big thanks for so many kind words!!

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  35. best food on earth!!! loved going through that list. thanks for sharing so many facts about samosas.

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  36. What a lovely post describing your love for this snack/dish.;) Never heard off it and I guess it is not easily found in Europe, but wonder if Indian restaurants will serve it - do not recall ever seeing it on the menu.;)
    They look a bit like fortunate cookies to me.;))
    Have a great week,
    xoxo

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    1. Zuzana, on the contrary you will find this in many big cities in Europe. The baked version of the same is served as patties with a filling of vegetables and also meat/ chicken etc..They resemble fortune cookie, you are right:) Wishing you a lovely week too..

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  37. do you know how much your samosas disturbed me last night? I was trying to meditate and the whole time, I think is samosas..:( Dang! I have to start now and hope they don't come today too..:)

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    1. May I take this as a compliment, Latha that Samosa continued to linger on thoughts:) If so thanks a lot, otherwise I am guilty of being a spoil sport like Menaka disturbing Vishwamitra's meditation!!

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    2. hahaha...what else do you think other than a compliment? there is a pakistani lady who sells samosas in the Folsom library cafe. I should have gone yesterday after work. They are open only on tuesday evenings..:( It's so super hot outside to go and get anywhere else..along with saru, you should parcel for me too..looks like your samosa post stirred quite something..:P

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    3. Thanks a lot, Latha and am honored! You too may send me your address to send you a parcel of Samosas:)

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  38. Aha a lovely ode to the good ole samosa!

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  39. Rahulji, you have been a source of inspiration and enegry to many...pls collect your sunshine blog award here : http://ashokism.blogspot.in/2012/08/sunshine.html
    congrats!

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    1. Not enough words to thank you Ashok, for your kindness to pass me the award and those words!

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  40. Hi Rahul, samosas are my favourite. I just love eating them, never mind the calories. I have heard that Delhi has the best samosas in the country, I definitely want to try them.

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    1. Rachna, I know all good things in life come with a price to pay like adding flab, but an occasional indulgence is OK:) You are welcome to Delhi and I promise to treat you:)

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    2. Rahul, I will hold you to that promise. Its okay about the calories. For a samosa, I can exercise a little more the next day ;)

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    3. Very kind of you Rachna! The promise of treat stands good:)

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  41. I will remember the latent theory of heat and save my mouth from now onwards. Sir you live so close to Haldiram, please post some samosas to me. :)

    And a bit of international travelling :) :) :)

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    1. Ha, Ha,.. Saru, the latent heat is potentially dangerous for the mouth! Send me your mailing address so that I can send you a packet from Haldiram for you:) I can assure you that you will see the world much more than what I have seen:):)

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  42. Love reading your stories, do you know?

    xoxo, Alessia

    THE CHILI COOL


    FACEBOOK

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    1. Thanks a lot Alessia for your appreciation:)

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  43. Mmm...Mouth watering -- the picture and the post. You really love and know your samosa, don't you. :)
    Keep the delicious love affair going.

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    1. Well I sure love them Divya, but when it comes to food I do not mind having multiple love affairs:) Thanks a lot for your nice comment!!

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  44. Was very interesting. I am also fond of Samosas. Now camping at Chennai I am able to get them practically everywhere. I too have a post (by my brother)on Dosas which is wait listed.

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    1. Thanks indeed PN for enjoying this post and also Samosas:)Look forward to reading on dosas, another favorite of mine!

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  45. :) Wonderfully written!
    I loved the way the blog post started off.
    Am unfortunately not a fan of samosa :(!

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    1. Welcome to my blog Divenita! A huge thanks for your comment although you do not like Samosa:)

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  46. This is wonderful..You were talking about Samosa..But you said almost your biography. A wonderful mix of everything, from memories, childhood. career, travel, taste, all..how sweet they are..

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    1. Thanks a lot, Tomz for those kind words! Well, Samosas were a part of journey of my life so you got a peek into it:)

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  47. Hi Rahul, thanks so so much for your wonderful comment on my last post, it really meant a lot to me! Have you been at all affected by the power outages? Hope all is okay now

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    1. Sam, that writing was just excellent and deserved all the praise:) The power outages were ridiculous but managed to survive them!Have a great weekend!

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  48. sir ji I want some now and its lunch time , so off i go to my friendly indian sweet shop :)

    Bikram's

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  49. Samosas are complete indulgence ..if they r hot n accompanied by tamrind dip.
    I actually this its part of our rich heritage :)

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  50. True Harman! Samosas are a complete indulgence:)

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  51. Oh, I see so many common things between us Rahul Ji. I do not eat for the sake of it, I eat because I enjoy eating and I am not very fond as samosas (To your level, at least), I am more fond of vadas and Bhajjis, more traditional South Indian flavours. But yes,these indulgence last for a lifetime and i'm loving every bit of it :-)

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  52. Happy coincidences never fail to amaze us Ashwini! I am equally fond of Vadas and Bhajjis though Samosas are eaten very infrequently now:)In fact my love for idlis, upma and dosas is now far more than for samosas:)

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