Samusa Thote, a popular street food from Myanmar, refers to a scrumptious salad made using samosas. Yes, you read that right! If all salads tasted like Samusa Thote, I doubt anyone would crib about eating them! 🙂
I have never been to Burma, or Myanmar as it is called now. My first brush with the country’s cuisine was at Burma Burma in Bangalore, a few years ago. It was love at first bite for me with Samusa Thote, the salad bursting with flavours and layered textures – think crunchy cabbage and cucumber, bits of deep-fried potato samosas, tamarind chutney, fresh mint and coriander, chilli and browned garlic. What’s to not love, eh?
In today’s blog post, let me take you through the process of making Samusa Thote or Burmese Samosa Salad.
An introduction to Burmese cuisine
The food in Myanmar has influences from neighbouring countries like India, China and Thailand, but the country has a distinct cuisine all of its own. Burmese cuisine is flavourful, beautifully layered with complex tastes and textures. Soups and salads are an important part of eating in Myanmar – there are so many different types, it’s unimaginable! I have been reading up about Burmese cuisine lately, and have seriously been dumbfounded.
Some classic dishes from the Burmese cuisine are Laphet Thoke (salad made using tea leaves), Mohinga (thin rice noodles served with broth), Khao Suey (noodles in a curried coconut milk broth), Tofu Nway (tofu made with chickpeas, served in a warm broth), Gyin Thoke (salad made with pickled ginger, legumes, fried garlic and sesame seeds), Danbauk (Burmese-style biryani), Sarbutee (soup made using dried maize) and Htamin Let Thoke (a hand-tossed salad made using rice, vermicelli, fried onions and garlic, tamarind paste and other ingredients).
The street food culture is big in Myanmar, from what I understand. There’s a plethora of food choices available on the streets, delicious and inexpensive at that. Samusa Thote is a hugely popular street food, with vendors selling take-aways in plastic bags off carts by the roadside.
If Burmese cuisine interests you, you must definitely check out my recipe for Vegetarian Khao Suey. This happens to be one of the most tried out and beloved recipes from my blog.
What goes into Samusa Thote
Like I was saying earlier, Samusa Thote is a salad made using samosas. Samosas are, therefore, the main ingredient of this dish. I’m not sure how different Indian samosas are from the Burmese version – I have used the former here. I find that big, fat Punjabi samosas with a potato filling work best in this salad. I buy them ready-made from a farsan store near my place.
The crunch factor in this salad comes from fresh cabbage, onions and cucumber. Garlic is lightly browned in oil and added in, for flavour. A handful of mint and coriander goes in too, which takes the flavour quotient up by several notches. A teeny amount of roasted gram flour is added for a nutty flavour and interesting texture. Thickened tamarind extract acts as the dressing – I have used the tamarind chutney that we usually use in chaats. A dash of red chilli powder spices things up, and a bit of lemon juice evens out the other tastes.
My way of making Samusa Thote is inspired by the recipe from Burma Superstar: Addictive Recipes From The Crossroads Of Southeast Asia, a cookbook by Desmond Tan and Kate Leahy. I have made minor tweaks to the original recipe, using ingredients and techniques that are familiar to me. I am not claiming that this is a 100% authentic recipe, but I can definitely tell you that the end result is completely delicious. Try it out for yourself!
How to make Samusa Thote or Burmese Samosa Salad
Once you have all the ingredients at hand, Samusa Thote is a rather easy thing to put together. Here is how I make it.
Ingredients (serves 2-3):
1. 2 big potato samosas, store-bought
2. 3 heaped teaspoons gram flour (besan)
3. 5 garlic cloves
4. 1 tablespoon oil
5. 1/4 cup finely chopped cabbage
6. 1/4 cup finely chopped cucumber
7. 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
8. A handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
9. A handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
10. Salt to taste
11. Red chilli powder to taste
12. 3-4 tablespoons of sweet-sour tamarind chutney or as needed
13. A dash of lemon juice or as needed (optional)
1. Take the gram flour in a small pan and place on medium heat. Roast on medium flame till the gram flour turns aromatic, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and allow it to cool down.
2. Peel the garlic cloves and chop roughly. Keep ready.
3. Take the finely chopped onion, cabbage, cucumber, mint and coriander leaves in a large mixing bowl.
4. Add salt and red chilli powder to taste, to the mixing bowl.
5. Add the roasted gram flour to the mixing bowl.
6. Cut up the samosas roughly and add them to the mixing bowl too.
7. Heat the oil in a small tempering pan, then add in the chopped garlic. Turn the flame down to medium. Allow the garlic to turn a light golden brown, ensuring that it doesn’t burn. Add the browned garlic and the oil to the mixing bowl.
8. Add in the tamarind chutney to taste. Mix gently.
9. Taste and add lemon juice or more tamarind chutney if needed. Mix. Your Burmese Samosa Salad is ready. Serve immediately.
Related event: The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge
This recipe is brought to you in association with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge.
The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is a fun activity run by a group of passionate food bloggers. The bloggers showcase recipes based on an interesting theme, every month.
The participants are grouped into pairs, and each pair exchanges two ingredients secretly, unknown to the rest of the group. Each participant then uses the two secret ingredients assigned to them to prepare a recipe befitting the theme of the month. A picture of each completed dish is then shared in the group by each participant, and members try to guess the two secret ingredients.
The theme for the month of November was ‘World Street Food’, suggested by Preethi, author of the lovely food blog Preethi’s Cuisine. For the theme, Preethi prepared Firi Firi, these beautiful Tahitian coconut-flavoured donuts.
I was paired with Sasmita of First Timer Cook for the month, who suggested I make something using ‘onion’ and ‘cabbage’. I decided to share one of my all-time favourite street food recipes – Burmese Samosa Salad – for the theme. Sasmita prepared these delicious Dessert Quesadillas using ‘Nutella’ and ‘strawberries’, which were the two secret ingredients I suggested to her.
This is a completely vegetarian recipe. You can use samosas with a non-vegetarian filling too, if you prefer.
This recipe is vegan, suited to people following a plant-based diet.
Tips & Tricks
1. I have used store-bought potato samosas here. You can make your own at home, too.
2. You can use samosas with any type of filling, as you prefer. From potatoes and peas to lamb, any type of samosas work. I prefer using large Punjabi samosas with potato filling.
3. I have used the tamarind chutney we prepare for chaats, here. I usually prepare a batch of the chutney, refrigerate it, and use it as needed. Use as per personal taste preferences.
4. Finely chopped green chillies can be used in addition to or in place of the red chilli powder I have used here. I prefer using red chilli powder to taste.
5. Soaked and cooked chickpeas (kabuli chana), finely chopped tomatoes, fried onions, grated raw mango and carrot are some other possible additions to this Burmese Samosa Salad. I usually do not add these ingredients, but keep it simple the way I have shared above.
6. You may use more or less vegetables in your Samusa Thote, as per personal preferences. I usually add lots of veggies. You may use purple cabbage (instead of the green I have used here), for a pop of colour.
7. Make sure the garlic does not get overly burnt while frying it. At the same time, it shouldn’t stay raw either.
8. Using lemon is optional. If the sourness from the tamarind is enough, you can skip the lemon juice entirely.
9. Use the ‘seedless’ variety of cucumber, also called ‘English cucumber’, for best results.
10. You can chop the veggies finely or into long slivers, as you prefer. I prefer chopping them finely.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!