Samosas for every plate & wallet

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Your Lahore visit will cost just a bit more now. The city’s samosas, price shackled by a three-year-old government order, are now free to fly on the wings of demand and supply, Times of India reported. Till a few weeks ago, you could have bought a samosa anywhere in the city for the equivalent of Rs 3.5 — 30 percent less than the cheapest Delhi samosa but level with those at Kolkata’s SN Banerjee Road. That was before the Supreme Court’s decision.
The Supreme Court allowed an appeal by the Punjab Bakers and Sweet Federation and set aside a notification by the Punjab government through which the price of a Samosa was fixed at Rs6. In 2009, the City District Government of Lahore on the instruction of the Punjab government had fixed price of a samosa at Rs6 and the magistrates had imposed fine on shopkeepers for selling samosa at higher rates.
The Punjab Bakers and Sweets Federation through its president Muhammad Afzal had challenged this order before the Lahore High Court (LHC). Their petition was dismissed allowing the CDGL and Punjab Government to keep the price of Samosa at Rs 6 and continue the prohibitive action against the vendors. An appeal was filed in the Supreme Court against the decisions of Punjab government by the same association. The appellant argued that a Samosa was not an item notified under the Punjab Foodstuffs (Control) Act of 1958. He said the government had no power to fix by the price of a Samosa. On the other hand, Punjab government’s counsel argued that the government had the jurisdiction to fix prices of all items being sold to the public at large. After hearing both sides the Supreme Court set aside the impugned notification. Now, as members of Pakistan’s Punjab Bakers and Sweets Federation draw up their pricing strategy, they can draw useful lessons from halwais in Delhi. Here, samosas are available for Rs 5-50, indicative of their status as not only the aam aadmi’s snack but also a comfort food in the corridors of business and power.
Is it possible, then, to regulate a snack as versatile as the samosa? At roadside tea stalls, samosas are usually priced at Rs 5. In Old Delhi’s Matia Mahal market, Ameer Sweet House sells juicy keema samosas for Rs 5 and khoya-stuffed, sweet ones for Rs 7. Not very far away, Delite Cinema has a massive 200g ‘maha samosa’ priced at Rs 40. Bangla Sweet House in Gole Market has a regular potato samosa priced at Rs 10 and a matar-paneer one at Rs 14. In the same market, Kaleva sells the very same aloo samosa at Rs 12 per piece. At central Delhi’s Bengali Sweet House, bite-sized cocktail samosas are sold by the kilo — there is the regular matar samosa at Rs 240/kg and Allahabadi samosa with dry masala stuffing at Rs 190/kg.
Chandni Chowk’s Manohar Dhaba, known for its “japani samosa” — famous for being neither Japanese nor a samosa — serves the classic version of the snack at Rs 10 with a side dish of chhole. Satish Agrawal of Bengali Sweet House says the noodles-stuffed ‘Chinese samosa’ they briefly introduced last year was priced at Rs 16.
Samosa economics is serious business and Agrawal puts it in perspective. “The price varies with the kind of samosa. But the location of a shop and the services it offers also go into deciding the price point. A roadside shop can sell cheaper. In a sit-down place, they have to incorporate the price of the additional chutneys, paper napkins, paper plates and even VAT,” he says. A popular cafe chain with a large youth following has introduced a new “combo offer” that will make traditionalists happy — the samosa and chai combo. Of course, since you will be served in china plates by a staff that will take your order in English, you need to shell out Rs 49 for the “experience”. Chhotu, who brings you your daily cutting chai in a wire stand, carefully balancing samosas wrapped in an oil-soaked newspaper in the other hand, will surely have a good laugh over this. Chances are, somebody will be served a samosa on this very article.
“As members of Pakistan’s Punjab Bakers and Sweets Federation draw up their pricing strategy, they can draw useful lessons from halwais in Delhi. Here, samosas are available for Rs 5-50, indicative of their status as not only the aam aadmi’s snack but also a comfort food in the corridors of business and power.”