Awesamosas’ Samosas

When Lahorelicious and Maro Tandoors set up shop following rave reviews at Lahore Eat, it was always likely that Awesamosas would follow suit. Hell- we’re surprised it took so long. Anyhow, the wait is over and the tastiest snack in the desi cuisine scene is up for grabs. Welcome to Lahore, Awesamoas!

The Milk Sheikhs visited the eatery, located next to the CSD, Kitchen Cuisine and the stables in Cavalry Ground. Micromanaged by Seemi Sani and Daniyal Noorani- a rather tall and upbeat gentleman- we found the location bare and humid, yet it was welcoming. Reminiscent of a public cafeteria or an upscale chai-walla, the restaurant was quaint, homely and upfront. Assortments of samosa flavors were arranged categorically in a custom-built stand, much like one you would expect to see at KFC, McDonald’s or Dunkin Donuts: metal trays kept heated by lights and kept on display for a visual delight.

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Loving the chalkboard, the brick and mortar, the samosa chefs- all in one shot.

I have to admit I was skeptical of the place. Located at the side-rear of the lot, I had to park almost directly on top of a pile of trash. A buzzkill, but certainly not something to write the eatery off for. I guess opening shop next to a stable comes with its cons, something that was evident by the ‘horsey’ smell permeating the air. It’s only a few steps, but it does make you feel just a tad dirty before even entering the place.

However, after we entered the store it was a completely different story. We had long forgotten everything that preceded Awesamosas, and were fully enveloped with the comforting aroma of samosas. All of the flavors melded together to form a rainbow of bittersweet incense. It was a world of its own, an oasis in the desert.

We were not unique in our desire for samosas. People flocked to the joint like rats behind the Pied Piper of Hamelin, desperately hoping that their favorite flavor was still in stock. And Noorani was the orchestrator, the tour guide and the hip-friend- a truly all-inclusive experience. He would have a fresh batch of samosas going in no time while explaining the recent launch and background of the concept, all while recommending new flavors to old customers and giving free samples to disbelievers. People were loving it. This shit really sells.

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Noorani in his element.

The menu was on a chalkboard above the metal receptacle. Dam Ka Qeema, Caramelized Onion and Pizza led the batting line-up, tantalizing our senses, savoury to the core. Those with a sweet tooth will worship the Apple Pie, Reese’s, Chocolate S’mores variants. We were not too confident about the Pizza samosa, but a free sample by the man himself made sure we tried it first.

We were fasting, however, which leads me to my next point. How can you possibly deny a samosa when your stomach is crying out for something- anything- to eat? How can you say no to the most foolproof combination of ingredients that our cuisine has to offer? The samosas beckoned, and it took a great deal of resolve not to munch on the treats immediately.

After much debate on which flavor was the best, we were left scratching our heads as we failed to pick a winner.

My personal favorite was the Dam Ka Qeema, complete with the desi-touch I was craving, along with an unexpectedly magnificent depth of flavor that really smacked you with the “Dam” in the face. I loved it, I’ve craved it from the day I tried it. This flavor should always be included in your order.

Another highlight was the Reese’s samosa, a must have for all peanut butter lovers. I don’t even like peanut butter and was baffled by the amazing contrast of the salty crust and sweet filling. Highly recommended for anyone and everyone.

The Pizza samosa was novel. It was the most ‘out-there’ take on the samosas, and I liked it even though I did not want to like it. Be adventurous and give it a shot, it may just be the next big thing.

There was a bit left to be desired in the Caramelized Onions samosa, which lived up to its name by including caramelized onions as the filling, but it all stopped there. I’ve personally always viewed caramelized onions as a complementary food and not a stand alone feature, but then again I don’t know much about samosa fillings. This one is up in the air.

The S’mores and Apple Pie flavors were instantly devoured by the children in my household.

I got scraps, but from what I could tell, the s’more samosa was a blend of marshmallows and Nutella, resulting in a creamy, stringy filling that oozed and hit the right spot as it was not overly sweet.

The apple pie samosas were more like apple fritters. It was always going to be hard to muck this up, and they didn’t. Always a safe bet, the samosa offers a great filling that may lack a touch of cinnamon for the demanding. Not amazing but definitely a step in establishing the right flavors.

Cleary Awesamosas is doing something right; as of my last visit, they have intoduced aaloo samosas- in my opinion this should have been one of the core flavors introduced upon conception- and manchurian samosas. While I’m unsure how I feel about the idea of the latter, there’s definitely a big market for such a variant out there.

We all did agree on several things though: First that the samosas were excellent, perfectly flaky and the filling was just the right amount. Second, that samosas were a no-brainer in Ramzan, considering it’s a staple for most of the people that we know. Third, that the charm and grace of the intricacies behind it all made it one of the most attractive offerings currently available in town.

We love the hands-on approach by the founders, the innovation, the charm and the no nonsense samosa dispensary as a whole. It’s pleasant to see someone invest themselves to make something ordinary, rather extraordinary.

Try it. Love it. Talk about it. Don’t share with anyone. Awesamosas is here to stay.

UPDATE: Samosas a la mode, and then some.

So one fine day, months after our initial review, Noorani decides to invite us for “dessert and gup-shup.” To be honest, I was kinda repulsed by the idea of samosas with ice cream, but I was still smitten from my last experience; and so we arrived a few minutes after 10pm to find him waiting for us inside a revamped Awesamosas.

For starters, the small space was far more homely than I remember. We hadn’t seen the place at night, so maybe that was why the glowing overhead lanterns made the place, well… glow. This was also the first time we were planning on eating on-site as opposed to an express take away order, so we got a real feel for the ambience. It was different- good different. The plebian comfort Awesamosas provided was extraordinary somehow, and I’d love to spend hours drinking chai and nibbling on samosas in my Sunday best, an outfit usually comprising of an ill-fitted t-shirt and cotton pyjamas of absurdly loud colors. (Basically you can be as casual as you’d like)

Complete with more chalkboards, a new plexiglass screen to shield diners from the heat of the kitchen and the same old secret recipes that the Noorani family debates on a nightly basis, Awesamosas was in peak form. So he took our orders and sat down to discuss some of his future plans with us as the samosa chefs started to work their magic.

The new additions to the menu were dessert bowls of sorts. Each bowl has a samosa, a scoop of ice cream and a sauce. You can pick from the apple pie, Reese’s and s’more samosas, coupled with vanilla ice cream and a choice between three sauces: mocha, butterscotch and red velvet icing. We asked for two double servings of samosas- one was an apple pie samosa with butterscotch, while the other was a Reeses samosa with mocha (both orders came with vanilla ice-cream, though we anticipate the introduction of new flavors).

We had also ordered ‘karak chai’ which arrived before the samosas in a Turkish style teapot. Oversized glass shot glasses served as receptacles for our chai. Noorani impressed us once again, this time with his excellent tea pouring skills as he raised the teapot about a foot and a half in the air as he continued to pour. Some mumbo-jumbo about letting the tea breathe. Anyway, it worked and the tea was strong, clean and aromatic. The samosas arrived as soon as we started with tea.

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The Reese’s concotion was rich, creamy and sugary. It was heavy, like weigh you down heavy. There was chocolate everywhere, with undertones of coffee. The vanilla tried valiantly to supress the cocoa, but we all know how stubborn cocoa can be. In my opinion, only die hard chocolate fans and sugar afficionados have a chance at stomaching something so decadent. Don’t get me wrong, it tasted amazing, though one bite was enough to sort my chocolate fix.

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The apple pie samosa was simple, subltle and crisp. Each flavor stood out independently, and merged effortlessly to make the best hybrid apple pie that I have ever had. The samosa crust, some argue, is better than the average apple pie crust. I’m not saying I wholly concur, but I have to hand it to Noorani- the flaky and semi-salty samosa ‘patti’ made me rethink the importance of simplicity and fusion flavors. It was suprisingly light too and did not make me want to shoot myself in the head. Good stuff.

We didn’t get the chance to try the s’mores samosa or the red velvet sauce, but I’m not too bitter about it- I’d like to thing Noorani ensured I got the crème de la crème.

The ‘karak chai’, unsweetened, went very well with the desserts. It added a simple counterbalance and a very unique social experience to the occasion. I’d be curious to try the doodhpatti the next time I go there but I’m afraid it would be too creamy and negate the samosa factor.

We spent a little over an hour with Noorani and time really flew. We hesitantly shuffled out of the joint, our bellies full, interests piqued. If half of what Noorani plans to implement in the future comes to life, we would be surprised to see an empty seat at his place. We enjoyed the ambience and the immersive experience so much that we did not mind reeking of samosas, and vowed to do this kind of thing every now and then to spice up mundane Lahori nights. Of course, having Noorani around helped.

Samosas a la mode- a great innovation from a great innovator. Well played Awesamosas, and thank you Daniyal!

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