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SamosaA samosa is a common snack in South Asia, in countries such as India, Pakistan and Nepal as well as Bangladesh. It is believed that it originated in Central Asia prior to the 10th century. It generally consists of a fried triangular- or tetrahedron-shaped pastry shell with a savory potato, onion, fresh coriander, cottage cheese known as Paneer and pea stuffing, but other stuffings like minced meat and fish are often used but not traditional. The size and shape of a samosa, as well as the consistency of the pastry used, can vary considerably although it is mostly triangular. It can be spicy and is often eaten with chutney, such as mint, coriander or tamarind. It is often savored with tea or coffee. It can also be prepared as a sweet form, rather than as a savory one. In Pakistan samosas come in various sizes and with various stuffings, and are often accompanied by various kinds of chutneys, such as mango chutney and mint chutney. In the city of Hyderabad, India, a smaller version of the samosa with a thicker pastry crust and mince filled center is called a Luqmi.
Samosas are often served in chaat, along with the traditional accompaniments of yogurt, chutney, chopped onions and coriander, and chaat masala.
Samosas have become popular in the United Kingdom, South Africa and East Africa, Persian Gulf countries and in Canada and the United States. They are often called "Samboosa" or sambusac by the Arabs. In South Africa they are often called "Samoosa". Frozen samosas are increasingly available in grocery stores in Canada and the United States.
While samosas are traditionally fried, many Westerners prefer to bake them, as this is more convenient and is perceived to be healthier (this could be seen as an example of fusion cuisine).
In Portugal and Goa, samosas are known as "chamuças" and they are very popular in Lisbon. These are shaped as triangles and usually filled with beef or pork. Chicken and vegetarian versions are rare. Chamuças are also popular along the West Coast of Africa and in Mozambique.
In Brazil, samosas are known as "pastéis" (plural of "pastel"). They are almost exclusively a square (not tetrahedron) in shape and fried thin pastry, and are considered by many Brazilians as a typical Brazilian snack. Their introduction into the Brazilian culinary occurred through Chinese immigrants in the end of the 19th century as modified spring rolls adapted to the available ingredients, but its popularity was boosted in mid-1940's by the huge Japanese community in Southeastern Brazil that, afraid of the prejudices prevailing in Brazil at the time due to the Japan-Nazi alliance in the World War II, began to run small pastel businesses in order to be taken as Chinese people instead.
The Brazilian pastel is typically filled with minced beef, mozzarella-type cheese, chicken, or palmheart cream. It can, however, be filled with virtually any sort of edible filling, and a host of innovative fillings like crab meat, shrimp, all types of cheese (mixed or not--cream cheese is a must), spicy Italian-type sausages, and pork ham are very popular. Vegetable-filled pastéis, however, are very rare, if not impossible to find.
Many of the best pastels are from street-corner portable stalls or vendors that can be found everywhere in the country, but mostly in the Southeastern states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Minas Gerais.
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