Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mughal Samosa

Mughal Samosa or Sweet Mava Samosa remind me of just one person, Pavshi Aaji!

A unique name and a strong persona is what I associate with her. I feel proud that I am from a community that gave women the freedom to earn their living and make choices freely. How certain foods are associated with a certain community that our world loves to hate were bought as treats for us by Pavshi Aaji.

She was one of my Grandfather's cousin, a Bazaarwali as in working women of today. She sold fish at the Crawford market, had prestigious clients. She sold the best fish, her credentials of being an excellent haggler, a sweet talker with the customer yet a tough women with anyone trying to cross her path. If you are familiar with the attire of the Koli women then you have seen a pallu spread across the midriff like an apron. It is called the OTi. This acts as a safe for tucking in the day's earning, paan pouch and many times treats.

When I was still a toddler, every evening I'd wait for Pavshi Aaji to come home with a treat tucked in her OTi. I would smell the ghee laden sweet Mava samosas and fondle her OTi, saying "A Aaji, de na ga, I know you have Mughal samosa in there". She would lovingly open the newspaper wrapped pudi (packet). This would be followed by my Dad's comment, "Don't get these Mughal things for my daughter." As if eating these sweet treats would cause an irreversible chemical change in me. Then she would hand me out one and say " Akha kha" (eat whole) then she would break the other Mughal samosa and give half to my Mothi Aaji and they would sit down to an after work chat with tea cups, as they discussed the profits made in the day.

I would cuddle up to Mothi Aaji and listen. These women were powerful and unabashed about weilding it.

My Dad's fave story of Pavshi Aaji is of they returning home from VT by BEST bus at peak time and being caught by the TC for not buying a ticket. My Dad then a young lad felt embarassed yet Pavshi Aaji fought with the TC that it was not her fault if the conductor did not reach her till she reached Colaba and so they could not buy the tickets. This lady being the women she was realized the she was not able to convince the TC did not accept her mistake. When she was asked to furnish her address, so that he could send her a notice for fine, she gave an incorrect address and escaped. Gosh! after that day my Dad sweared never to commute with her.

When I read about IFR: Memories and Manisha nudging us to pull out recipes from our memories, I smelt the Mughal samosas in the air out of nowhere. I had not had them after Pavshi Aaji died that was 2 decades ago. She died of heart attack at the age of 60 plus, she was a Bazaarwali till the end so we got the samosa till the end.

This recipe is out of those sweet memories and of living in a tiny house in Colaba, those doors were open to all inspite of the space constraint. The memories of working Koli women like Mothi Aaji, Janai Aaji, Gomai Aaji sharing laughter and gossip and the end of a long working day. It was such a pleasure to watch them some munching on snacks other rubbing Masheri (tobacco tooth powder) in their teeth before they retired to their waiting domestic chores, while I took mouthfuls from the Mughal Samosa.

Here is the recipe for you guys, I can do only this much and wish I could pass on the you those smells and tales of that era.

Traditionally these are regular sized samosas however since we have become a weight concious lot I have made them cocktail sized. I tried them with a really small amount of ingredients as it is a recipe strictly out of memories of the taste.


For the cover:

1 cup refined flour/ Maida
1/4 cup ghee
salt to taste
water for kneading

Rub in the ghee and then add water, enough to make a smooth dough. Let it rest.

Meanwhile prepare the sugar syrup and Mava.

For the stuffing:

1 cup mava (about 1/4 kg)
1/2 cup mixed nuts and raisins
1 teaspoon ghee
1/4 cup powdered sugar
4-5 cardamons powdered
1 small piece cinnamon powdered

Heat the ghee and fry mava till golden, add nuts and raisins and powdered sugar. Mix well. spice up the mix with cardamom and cinnamon powders. Save.

For the sugar syrup

1 cup sugar
3 table spoons water

Boil together to get a sticky syrup. Skim off the impurities. Keep aside.

For frying


Shaping the samosa

Now pinch off small balls of dough. Roll out into a puri. Cut with knife into halves. Make a cone with minimum overlap and fill a small amount of stuffing in the cone as you cup it in the hand. Seal the open ends by applying a little water. Ensure this is done well as you don't wanted molten mava and sugar to ooze out and spoil the frying medium.

Deep fry in ghee. Make them crisp and golden. Drain on a mesh.

Once all are fried pour the sugar syrup over the fried samosas.

These are a little too sweet even for a a sweet lover but there is no other way of recreating the same taste. I tried my hand at the taste though I wish to go back into that time again and know it is not possible.

These samosas are available in and around Crawford market area in Mumbai, for those of you who are adventurous enough to track the original thing down.

Update from Mumbai...

We are celebrating my brother and SIL's first Deepavali after marriage and it is a family reunion time. Chimi is as happy as me to be here with family.

I'll be busy breaking my head over what to buy for The Punarvasu's BD. No God's idols. No sports gear. It has to be something for the work desk as that's where most of the time is spent. How about a frame for the little gal's picture which is currently pinned on the soft board?

Wishing you a very Happy Deepavali!


  1. Yummy sweet samosas, sounds great! Thanks for sharing such wonderful recipe!!!

  2. shooo shweet ... u got me into flashback....really i wish there was rewind to read your mumbai i stay i Mumbai i cud imagine the days exactly the way to u tell...
    bye take care


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