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Stefan's Florilegium


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India-Samosas-art - 7/6/15


"15th Century East Indian Samosas" by Baroness Anastasia Alexandrovana Andreeva (OL).


NOTE: See also the files: fd-India-msg, butter-msg, eggplant-msg, onions-msg, garlic-msg, ginger-msg, saffron-msg, saffron-art, Indian-Sari-art, India-lnks.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at:


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at



15th Century East Indian Samosas

by Baroness Anastasia Alexandrovana Andreeva (OL)


Kingdom A&S Championship

September 18, 2010


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The Sultans Book of Delights 1469-1500


15th Century Indian Samosas


The Samosa actually originated in Central Asia and traveled to India in saddle bags through the ancient trade routes. According to "The Oxford Companion to Food" the Indian samosa is merely the best known of an entire family of stuffed pastries or dumplings popular from Egypt and Zanzibar to Central Asia and West China.


Arab cookery books of the 10th and 13th Centuries refer to the pastries as sanbusak (the pronunciation still current in Egypt, Syria, & Lebanon), sanbusaq or sanbusaj, all reflecting the early medieval form of the Persian word: sanbosag. Claudia Roden (1968) quotes a poem by Ishaq ibn Ibrahim-al-Mausili (9th Century) praising the sanbusaj.


In 1334, Ibn Battuta, a traveler, described the 'sanbusak' as minced meat cooked with almonds, pistachios, onions and spices, placed inside a thin envelope of wheat and deep-fried in ghee.


The Samosa in Ancient Texts


The well-known poet of Delhi royalty Amir Khusrao, observed that the royalty relished samosas cooked with meat, ghee and onions. The Ain-i-Akbari also declared the samosa as a favorite snack.

I am using the only Indian Manuscript I have been able to find.  A 15th Century Manuscript called the Sultans Book of Delights. (See bibliography for full citation).


The Recipe


Another Kind of Ghiyath Shahi's samosas: take well cooked mince with the same amount of minced onion and flavour it with dried ginger (zanjabil). Having ground a quarter of that with a half a tulcha of garlic, mix them all together. Grind three tulchas of saffron in rosewater and mix it with the mince. Remove the pulp from aubergines and, having mixed it with the mince, stuff the samosas and fry them in Ghee. They can be either of thin dry bread or of fine flour bread or of uncooked dough, Cook each of the three kinds of samosas, they are delicious and good.




Typical meats used to make mince include: beef, lamb, and venison, birds such as chicken, pigeon, partridge and quail. The meat could be minced very fine and cooked plain or cooked with spices. At this time the rulers were Muslim so pork was no longer eaten in the 15th century.


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Making minced meat

From the Sultans Book of Delights, 15th c


I have chosen to use quails.


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Lavaka (quail)


I used a cepillion onion as it looks like the medieval onion and has a nice mild flavour.


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(Dioscorides 1st c)


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(Dioscorides 1st c)


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Ginger (1492)                          Saffron

                                                      (Dioscorides 1st c)


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(Dioscorides 1st c)


Roses were used in cooking and cosmetics in India from very early times. Distilling was practiced in the 15th Century and they made rose water.


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Japanese, American and Indian eggplants

Indian aubergines were the size of cherry tomatoes



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Lady from Karnataka

 Pounding ingredients in a mortar and pestle


Ghee is clarified butter usually cow. It was used in food and to cook food.



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Milking cows in the Sultans Book of Delights 15th C


My Recipe


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Manuscript page with recipe

The Sultans Book of Delights 15th c



Meat from 4 cooked quails, minced. About 5 oz

1/2 small onion

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 tsp. ginger ground

1/2 tsp saffron in 1 Tbl. Rosewater

Cooked pulp of 4 Indian eggplants


I minced the meat in a sieve, and the onion and garlic in a small press. The saffron was soaked in the rosewater and then added with the ginger. The eggplant was cooked and then chopped finely and added to the mince.


As with most medieval cookbooks, they expect you to know how to make the dough for the samosas. They can be made in a variety of ways.


I am making basic unleavened dough using wheat flour.




2 cups Wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoon oil
6 tablespoon water


Mix together the ingredients until you have a pliable dough. Roll it out and make small or large rounds depending on how big you want your samosas.  Stuff the rounds with the filling and fold and press the tops to make little purses.


I am making small ones. Samosas are eaten with chutneys, which are essentially a sweet pickle relish. They call them "a pickle" when they mean the chutney sauces. I am serving three different sauces or "pickles" with my samosas. One is a basic fruit chutney that is made with Tamarind  paste, sugar, salt and assorted spices, chili powder, milk solids, coriander, cinnamon clove, black pepper, ginger, cumin, fennel. The green one is a mint chutney made with Yogurt, onions, mint leaves, coriander, salt, green peppers, garlic and spices. The third one is Ginger Chutney.


I did not make these chutneys. I was afraid it would complicate the judging with too many things to judge, but I felt they needed to be served with the samosas so you got the full flavor effect.


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15th century woodcut of two men feasting




Achaya, KT. A Historical Dictionary of Indian Food. Oxford University Press


Collingham, Lizzie. Curry A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors. Oxford University Press 2006


Gunther, Robert T. The Greek Herbal of Dioscorides 1st Century AD Hafner Publishing co. New York 1959


Husain, Salma. The Emperor's Table The art of Mughal Cuisine Lustre Press Roli Books


Jaffrey, Madhur. From Curries to Kebabs. Recipes from the Indian spice trail. Clarkson Potter Publishers New York.


Titley, Norah M. (translator) The Ni'matnama Manuscript of the Sultans of Mandu The Sultans Book of Delights 15th CenturyRoutledgeCurzon 2005




Kamat's Potpourri

Social Life in Ancient India, The Temples of India, From Pot to Palate




1.  Jyotsna Burde.  Food and Food Habits in Vijayanagara Times

First Published in: 
The Journal of the Karnatak University, 
Vol. VII., 1963 
Karnatak University, Dharwar 


2.  Jyotsna Kamat, Social Life in Medieval Karnatak, Food and Drinks


Many thanks to Sebastian Martinez de Leon for his invaluable help in scanning some of my pictures.


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Copyright 2010 by Marilee Humason <stasiwa at>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>


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