Stuffed With Pumpkin, Samosas Get Americanized
WASHINGTON, DC (IANS) – Pumpkin, the gourd that becomes a national obsession around this time of the year, leading up to Halloween is injected into or used in everything from coffee to ice cream to waffles, pies, and breakfast cereals. Many of these concoctions as we know, are specially launched around this time for just this season.
Trader Joe’s has joined the bandwagon with an Indian twist – it has recently launched samosas stuffed with pumpkin.
Some are wary of cultural appropriation of Indian cuisine and have responded with predictable horror, “No, Trader Joe’s. Just No”, said one of them of the Spicy Pumpkin Samosa. Social media has been full of similar postings chiding Trader Joe’s for this culinary infraction.
Others have been less hostile, and more welcoming. “Trader Joe’s spicy pumpkin samosa is a testament that it is accepted around the world as a global dish and no longer a regional or ethnic dish”, said Chintan Pandya, the chef-cofounder of Adda and Dhamaka, the buzziest New York Indian cuisine restaurants. “It’s a big step forward for samosa as a dish and will open more food gates for regional Indian dishes. Hope it works so we can have turkey tikka in the Trader Joe’s aisle.”
Meanwhile, chicken tikka, the cousin of the British chicken tikka masala is a growing favorite.
Indian Americans recall a time they could not find samosas anywhere in the country. Most of them learned to make them at home, if ingredients were available, which was also rare at the time. Indian families remember driving miles to a store with Indian cuisine groceries.
Ashok Bajaj, who came to the US 33 years ago and went on to establish himself as a leading restaurateur in Washington D.C., the power capital of the world, remembers there were no samosas available at the time. Now you can’t have enough of the samosas served at his restaurants — Bombay Club (just a block from the White House), Rasika and Bindaas — and countless other restaurants around the US.
Trader Joe’s is no stranger to other regular Indian dishes — strictly Indian in form and content — such as lamb vindaloo, chickpeas and rice, chicken tikka, naans and rotis. The pumpkin samosa appears to be its first shot at Americanizing that most typical Indian snack.
“As long as its quality is good, it’s good,” said Bajaj.
Bajaj is no stranger to experimenting with Indian cuisine, his restaurants were probably the first to put guacamole into golgappas, which are now standard hors d’oeuvres at Indian-related events, as are bite-size pieces of nan that are sometimes served with drinks, mostly wine.