Home Stories A brief history of samosas – Hemant R Joshi

A brief history of samosas – Hemant R Joshi


My fascination with Samosas had me go down the rabbit hole of finding their origin story and write a Twitter thread about it.

Samosas originated in the middle east. Persian literature from the 10th century has a lot of mentions of early variants of the modern samosas. These samosas were filled with minced meat.

In the 13th century, traders brought them to India. Made with meat, ghee and onions, they became popular in the Delhi Sultanate. Samosas were almost always filled with meat. Literature around this time doesn’t have a mention of *vegetarian* samosas.

To learn about the potato-filled samosas, we’ll have to take a detour and learn the history of potatoes. Till the 16th century, the potato was indigenous to Peru, and unknown elsewhere. As European explorers opened the world, potatoes spread across the world.

17th century: Potatoes came to India via the Portuguese. Fun fact: they were called “Batata” by the Portuguese, which is what we call them in Marathi even today. The consumption of potatoes was still restricted to West India, where Portuguese had set their bases.

18th century: The East India Company started to incentivize farmers in Northern and Eastern India to grow potatoes. Initially, this was for their own consumption, but once we tasted potatoes, how could we resist? Mass production of potatoes began!

My deduction based on the above (couldn’t find a source): In the 18th and 19th centuries, as potatoes became common, they started replacing meat in Samosas (*probably* influenced by vegetarianism and the delectable taste of potatoes).

Today, the samosas are spread across the world with differing fillings, tastes, and cooking methods. But they are a symbol of globalization in the medieval and modern ages. Highly recommend reading the wiki article about the spread of potatoes.


On samosas: wikipedia

The story of potatoes:


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