Finger licking good: British city Leicester to host National Samosa Week
The ubiquity of samosa in Indian life is reflected in one of the most famous quotes in contemporary politics: ‘Jab tak samosa mein rahega aloo, Bihar mein rahega Lalu’ (as long as the samosa has potatoes, Bihar will have Lalu).
Lalu Prasad Yadav is facing new legal challenges, but the humble samosa has crossed the seas to become as prominent in Britain as the burger. To honour its stature, a National Samosa Week has been launched to draw attention to the culture and food heritage of South Asia.
Supported by the local police and charity organisations, samosa lovers in the East Midlands city of Leicester — which has a large population of Indian origin — have announced the event from April 9 to 13, when people will be encouraged to buy, eat and sell as many samosas as they can.
Money raised through the sales at pop-up centres during the week will go to two local charity organisations.
Romail Gulzar, founder of Leicester Curry Awards, said: “There’s a national food event for everything from burgers to beer, so why not samosas? The savoury dish has grown in popularity and for many people in the South Asian community, eating one is like the equivalent of having tea and cake.
“We want to encourage people all over the UK to buy or make their own samosas during the week and sell them at work and school to raise funds for their local community or charities. We’re hoping this could be the start of something really popular and we hope it will gain momentum with each passing year.”
The samosa has become intrinsic to the discourse of “going for an Indian”, an increasingly prominent phrase in British social, economic, and cultural life since the 1960s — it means going for an Indian meal after weekend bouts in pubs and other occasions.
Leicester’s lovers of samosa are keen that it acquires a similar stature as the chicken tikka masala, which was hailed by former foreign secretary Robin Cook, as “a true British national dish”.
Food historians believe the samosa has roots in the Persian sanbosag and came to the Indian sub-continent with merchants from Central Asia around the 13th century. It figured in the writings of Amir Khusro and Ibn Batuta, and a recipe was mentioned in the Ain-i-Akbari.