Ramazan is almost here and yes, it’s a month that’s about fasting, charity and being an overall nice person – but it’s also about breaking fast with samosas. So, for Ramazaners and otherwise (because everybody loves a good samosa), we came up with our own Top 4 list of places that sell the best samosas — feel free to suggest your own favourites, folks.
The samosa originated in Uttar Pradesh and is thought to be almost 8 centuries old. It is now a popular snack in most Asian countries and some African ones. It is generally known that the big samosa-chains in Sri Lanka are largely sourced by Bohras, a local Shia sect of Muslims with their origin in Gujarat, India. The local Memon community, a Sunni sect of Muslims whose ancestors are from Sindh, Pakistan, are also behind a lot of the country’s samosa-making. Sri Lankan Aunties, a local sect of Old Nosey People, are also responsible for concocting mouth-watering samosas at home for a lot of us.
It is rumoured that the Royal Sweet Smart in Pettah are the ‘ancients’ of Sri Lankan samosa-making. My dad says they’re about 70 years old and pioneered the local samosa market, and have therefore earned a spot on our list.
There are none in this country. There’s loads of Bombay Sweet Marts from Wellawatte to Kollupitiya – and none of them are owned by the same person. The top samosa joints and crap samosa joints alike often start with ‘Bombay Sweet’, despite the fact that their sweets usually originate from more Northern or Southern parts of India than Bombay – the beginnings of the ‘Bombay Sweet’ trend-setting is a mystery.
Creating a samosa is pretty simple – you get long doughy strips and fill them with stuffing before dropping them in the pan. The end product, however, comes in a variety of flavours because of difference in the amount of oil used, the size and texture, and the mix that fills it.
A lot of samosas tend to be just average and forgettable. Our samosa experts claim that the punch of the superior samosa lies in the spiciness and fineness of the filling and the crispyness of the covering. But even a soggy samosa can be saved from ignominy if its insides are skillfully prepared. Beef samosas are generally the most popular option as opposed to chicken, while some people opt for vegetarian.
We’ve judged our samosas based on Crispyness, Filling and Size. We left price out of it, because samosas are generally about Rs. 50 per piece.
#4 Royal Sweet Mart, Pettah
At Second Cross Street/ Prince Street Junction
The samosas here are of average size and are pretty solid in terms of taste. They are, after all, old-school. They’re also bathed in oil, and will lose their freshness fast so eat hot-hot. The location makes parking impossible so go by foot, and perhaps wander around for faluda and plastic buckets at the market while you wait for your order.
#3 Bombay Sweet Mahal, Dehiwela
Galle Road, on the sea-side at the Dehiwela junction.
Neat and crispy triangles, although relatively smaller in size. The filling is very finely minced and tasty.
#2 Chanas, Wellawatte
No. 50, W. A. Silva Mawatha
Chana’s is an Indian food joint, and the samosas here are different from the average Bombay Sweet Mart. They’re huge and the vegetarian filling is mostly made of chunky pieces of potato – Punjabi-style. It usually comes with a generous bowl of tamarind dip. I personally prefer the slimmer ones but these North Indian samosas are nevertheless tasty and the size means one or two will be enough to appease.
#1 Bombay Sweet Center, Wellawatte
Galle Road, opposite Wellawatte HNB
Our winner is this place that has samosas that don’t look neat or average – they’re quite small in comparison, and the wrapping isn’t perfectly equilateral. But it’s not dripping in oil so it’s fresh and crisp, will stay fresh longer – and the spicy filling is far superior to the rest on the list. The quality makes up for its small size.