A samosa (/səˈmsə/), sambusa, or samboksa is a fried or baked dish with a savoury filling, such as spiced potatoes, onions, peas, lentils, macaroni, noodles, cheese, minced lamb or minced beef. Pine nuts can also be added. Its size and consistency may vary, but typically it is distinctly triangular or tetrahedral in shape. Indian samosas are usually vegetarian, and often accompanied by a mint chutney.[1][2][unreliable source?] Samosas are a popular entrée, appetizer or snack in the local cuisines of the Arabian Peninsula, Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, the Mediterranean, the Indian subcontinent, the Horn of Africa, East Africa, North Africa and South Africa. Due to cultural diffusion and emigration from these areas, samosas in today's world are also prepared in other regions.


The word "samosa" can be traced to the sanbosag (Persian: سنبوساگ‎).[3] The pastry name in other countries can also derive from this root, such as the crescent-shaped sanbusak or sanbusaj in the Arab World, sambosa in Afghanistan, singara (Bengali: সিঙ্গারা) in Bengal,[4] samosa (Hindi:समोसा) in India, samosa (Urdu: سموسا‬) in Pakistan, (Sindhi: سمبوسو Samboso/sambosa‎), samboosa in Tajikistan, samsa by Turkic-speaking nations, sambusa in the Horn of Africa, and chamuça in Goa, Mozambique and Portugal.[citation needed] While they are currently referred to as sambusak in the Arabic-speaking world, Medieval Arabic recipe books sometimes spell it sambusaj.[5]


Manuscript (c. 16th century) showing samosas being served

The term Samosa and its variants cover a family of pastries and dumplings popular from North-Eastern Africa to western China. An ancient recipe for samosa, widespread in the Near East and India, involves mixing 1 cup of oil, 1 cup of melted butter, 1 cup of warm water, and 1 teaspoon of salt with dough. A praise of samosa (as sanbusaj) can be found in a 9th-century poem by the Persian poet Ishaq al-Mawsili. Recipes for the dish are found in the 10th-13th century Arab cookery books, under the names sanbusak, sanbusaq, and sanbusaj, all of which derive from the Persian word sanbosag. In Iran, the dish was popular until 16th century, but by the 20th century, its popularity was restricted to certain provinces (such as the sambusas of Larestan).[6] Abolfazl Beyhaqi (995-1077), an Iranian historian, mentioned it in his history, Tarikh-e Beyhaghi.[7]

Central Asian samsa were introduced to the Indian subcontinent in the 13th or 14th century by traders from Central Asia.[3] Amir Khusro (1253–1325), a scholar and the royal poet of the Delhi Sultanate, wrote in around c. 1300 CE that the princes and nobles enjoyed the "samosa prepared from meat, ghee, onion and so on".[8] Ibn Battuta, a 14th-century traveler and explorer, describes a meal at the court of Muhammad bin Tughluq, where the samushak or sambusak, a small pie stuffed with minced meat, almonds, pistachios, walnuts and spices, was served before the third course, of pulao.[9] The Ain-i-Akbari, a 16th-century Mughal document, mentions the recipe for qutab, which it says, “the people of Hindustan call sanbúsah”.[10]

Regional varieties

Regions where the dish serves as a staple of local cuisine have different ways of preparing it.

Indian subcontinent

Samosas were brought to the Indian subcontinent by various Muslim merchants, and patronized under various Islamic dynasties in the region.


Samosas being fried at a road-side restaurant in Raipur, India

The samosa is made with a wheat flour or maida flour shell stuffed with some filling, generally a mixture of mashed boiled potato, onions, green peas, spices and green chili or fruits.[11] The entire pastry is then deep-fried to a golden brown color, in vegetable oil. It is served hot and is often eaten with fresh Indian chutney, such as mint, coriander or tamarind. It can also be prepared as a sweet form, rather than as a savoury one. Samosas are often served in chaat, along with the traditional accompaniments of yogurt, chutney, chopped onions, coriander, and chaat masala.

In Delhi, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Uttarakhand, a bigger version of the samosa with a spicy filling of masala potatoes, peas, crushed green chillies, cheese and even dried fruits, as well as other variations, is quite popular. This samosa is bigger compared to other Indian and foreign variants.[12]

Burmese-style samusa are flat and triangular, and usually smaller than their Indian counterparts.

In Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand, shingaras (the East Indian version of samosas) are popular snacks. They are found almost everywhere. Shingaras are easy to make, but the folding is a little tricky and many people do not know how to fold or make shingaras. Shingaras are a bit smaller compared to those in other parts of India and the filling mainly consists of small pieces of potato and unmashed boiled potato, along with the addition of other ingredients. They are wrapped in a thin dough and fried. The coating is of white flour, not wheat flour, and it is slightly sweet in taste. What distinguishes good shingaras are flaky textures, almost as if they are made with a savoury pie crust.

Usually, shingaras are deep fried to a golden brown colour in vegetable oil. They are served hot and consumed with ketchup or chutney, such as mint, coriander or tamarind. Shingaras are often served in chaat, along with the traditional accompaniments of yogurt, chutney, chopped onions, coriander, and chaat masala. Usually, shingaras are eaten during the tea time as tiffin. They can also be prepared as a sweet form, rather than as a savoury one. Bengali shingaras tend to be triangular, filled with potato, peas, onions, diced almonds, or other vegetables, and are more heavily fried and crunchier than either shingara or their Indian samosa cousins. Fulkopir shingara (shingara filled with cauliflower mixture) is another very popular variation. In Bengal, there are non-vegetarian varieties of shingara called mangsher shingara (mutton shingara) and macher shingara (fish shingara). There are also sweeter versions, such as narkel er shingara (coconut shingara), as well as others filled with khoya and dipped in sugar syrup.

Vegetable samosa

In Hyderabad, India, a smaller version of the samosa with a thicker pastry crust and mince-meat filling, referred to as lukhmi, is consumed, as is another variation with an onion filling.

In the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, samosas are slightly different, in that they are folded in a different way, much more like Portuguese chamuças, with a different style pastry. The filling also differs, typically featuring mashed potatoes with spices, fried onions, peas, carrots, cabbage, curry leaves, green chillies, etc. It is mostly eaten without chutney. Samosas in South India come in different sizes, and fillings are greatly influenced by the local food habits. It can include many variety of fillings, such as meats and vegetables. Samosas made with a spiced mashed potato mixture are quite popular in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.


Bangladeshi Samosas, snack food

Both flat-shaped and full-shaped samosas are popular snacks in Bangladesh. The Bengali version of the full-shaped samosa is called a সিঙাড়া (shingara) and is normally much smaller than the standard Indian variety. The shingara is usually filled with pieced potatoes and vegetables, however, shingaras filled with beef liver, are very popular in some parts of the country. The flat-shaped samosa is called a somucha and is usually filled with onions and minced meat.


Samosas are called singadas in the Eastern Zone of Nepal; the rest of the country calls it Samosa. As in India, it is a very popular snack in Nepalese cuisine. Vendors sell the dish in various markets and restaurants.


Samosas of various types are available all over Pakistan. In general, most samosa varieties sold in the southern Sindh province and in the eastern Punjab, especially the city of Lahore, are spicier and mostly contain vegetable or potato-based fillings. On the other hand, the samosas sold in the west and north of the country mostly contain minced meat-based fillings and are comparatively less spicy. The meat samosa contains minced meat (lamb, beef or chicken) and are very popular as snack food in Pakistan.

In Pakistan, samosas of Karachi are famous for their spicy flavour, whereas samosas from Faisalabad are noted for being unusually large. Another distinct variety of samosa, available in Karachi, is called kaghazi samosa (Urdu: کاغذی سموسہ‎; "paper samosa" in English) due to its thin and crispy covering, which resembles a wonton or spring roll wrapper. Another variant, popular in Punjab, consists of samosas with side dishes of mashed spiced chickpeas, onions, and coriander salad, as well as various chutneys to top the samosas. The samosas are a fried or baked pastry with a savoury filling, such as spiced potatoes, onions, peas, lentils, and minced meat (lamb, beef or chicken). Sweet samosas are also sold in the cities of Pakistan including Peshawar, these sweet samosas contain no filling and are dipped in thick sugar syrup.


In the Maldives, the types and varieties of samosa made in Maldivian cuisine are known as bajiyaa. They are filled with a mixture, which includes fish or tuna and onions.[13]

Southeast Asia


Samosas are called samusas in Burmese, and are an extremely popular snack in Burma.


The local equivalent of samosas in Indonesia are known as pastel. They are usually filled with eggs, minced beef or chicken.

Horn of Africa

Somali sambusas being deep-fried

Samosas are a staple of local cuisine in the Horn of Africa (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia), where they are known as samboosa. While they can be eaten any time of the year, they are usually reserved for special occasions.


In Israel, a Sambusak (Hebrew: סמבוסק‎) is a semi-circular pocket of dough filled with mashed chickpeas, fried onions and spices. There is another variety filled with meat, fried onions, parsley, spices and pine nuts, which is sometimes mixed with mashed chickpeas and breakfast version with feta or tzfat cheese and za'atar. It is associated with Mizrahi Jewish cuisine. An Israeli sambusak is not as spicy as the Indian version.[14] According to Gil Marks, an Israeli food historian, sambusak has been a traditional part of the Sephardic Sabbath meal since the thirteenth century.[15]

Portuguese-speaking regions

Goan chamuças

In Goa (India) and Portugal, samosas are known as chamuças. They are usually filled with chicken, beef, pork, lamb or vegetables, and generally served quite hot. Samosas are an integral part of Goan and Portuguese cuisine, where they are a common snack.

A samosa-inspired snack is also very common in Brazil, and relatively common in several former Portuguese colonies in Africa, including Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe, Angola and Mozambique, where they are more commonly known as pastéis (in Brazil) or empadas (in Portuguese Africa; in Brazilian Portuguese, empada refers to a completely different snack, always baked, small in size, and in the form of an inverse pudding). They are related to the Hispanic empanada and to the Italian calzone.

English-speaking regions

Samosas are popular in the United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania, and are also growing in popularity in Canada,[16][17] and the United States. They may be called samboosa or sambusac, but in South Africa, they are often called samoosa.[18] Frozen samosas are increasingly available from grocery stores in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom[citation needed].

While samosas are traditionally fried, many Westerners prefer to bake them, as this is viewed as more convenient and more healthy by some diners[citation needed]. Variations using filo,[19] or flour tortillas[20] are sometimes used.

See also


  1. ^ Arnold P. Kaminsky; Roger D. Long (23 September 2011). India Today: An Encyclopedia of Life in the Republic. ABC-CLIO. p. 151. ISBN 978-0-313-37462-3. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  2. ^ "A short history of the samosa". Quartz. February 8, 2016. Retrieved 8 February 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Lovely triangles Archived 8 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine. "Hindustan Times", 23 August 2008.
  4. ^ moderator (2015-11-05). "Aloor Singara (Bengali Samosa) Recipe MTR Dishcovery". MTR Dishcovery. Retrieved 2018-02-11. 
  5. ^ Rodinson, Maxime, Arthur Arberry, and Charles Perry. Medieval Arab cookery. Prospect Books (UK), 2001. p. 72.
  6. ^ Davidson, Alan (1999). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-211579-0. 
  7. ^ Beyhaqi, Abolfazl, Tarikh-e Beyhaghi, p. 132.
  8. ^ Savoury temptations The Tribune, 5 September 2005.
  9. ^ Regal Repasts Archived 7 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Jiggs Kalra and Dr Pushpesh Pant, India Today Plus, March 1999.
  10. ^ Recipes for Dishes Ain-i-Akbari, by Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak. English tr. by Heinrich Blochmann and Colonel Henry Sullivan Jarrett, 1873–1907. Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta, Volume I, Chapt, 24, page 59. “10. Quṭáb, which the people of Hindústán call sanbúsah. This is made several ways. 10 s. meat; 4 s. flour; 2 s. g'hí; 1 s. onions; ¼ s. fresh ginger; ½ s. salt; 2 d. pepper and coriander seed; cardamum, cuminseed, cloves, 1 d. of each; ¼ s. of summáq. This can be cooked in twenty different ways, and gives four full dishes.”
  11. ^ Samosa recipe Archived 14 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine.Samosa recipe from Gujarat. Retrieved 26 November 2010.
  12. ^ "Punjabi samosa". 3 November 2016. Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  13. ^ Xavier Romero-Frias, Eating on the Islands, Himal Southasian, Vol. 26 no. 2, pages 69-91 ISSN 1012-9804
  14. ^ "Gems in Israel: Sabich - The Alternate Israeli Fast Food". Archived from the original on 22 November 2013. 
  15. ^ Olive Trees and Honey:A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World Gil Marks
  16. ^ "Lineups threaten to stall Fredericton's hot samosa market". CBC.ca. 30 January 2007. Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  17. ^ Fox, Chris (29 July 2009). "Patel couldn't give her samosas away". The Daily Gleaner. dailygleaner.com. p. A1. Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  18. ^ South African English is lekker!. Retrieved 13 June 2007.
  19. ^ Fennel-Scented Spinach and Potato Samosas. Retrieved 6 February 2008.
  20. ^ Potato Samosas. Retrieved 6 February 2008.

External links