Friday, January 20, 2012

'One' of the Best Samosas in Town

How far would you go for a great Samosa? How about "The Best Samosas in Town!" That's what A-One's website says — Simply the Best. A-One is a family owned business that started in England over 40 years ago, then set up shop in it's current location, an unlikely outpost in a nondescript building north of Pearson Airport, on Tranmere Drive. They claim to be the top selling samosa producer in North America. What makes their samosas special? They're made with the owner's secret recipe made famous in England, then brought over to Canada when they launched A-One. "Our customers come from all over the world for our savoury 'English-style' samosas". I love Indian cuisine and have tried many samosas in my time, but what on earth is an 'English-style' samosa? I made the trip up to A-One with one of their 'converts', a dedicated samosa connoisseur, to find out what was so great about A-One's tetrahedral treat. 

A-One Catering - 7875 Tranmere Drive #2 in Mississauga

A charming young Indian woman with a quick smile was serving behind the counter when we arrived. My friend knew exactly what he wanted. He'd been to A-One many times before, the only difference was that he didn't own a huge freezer anymore and was struggling with how many he could buy this trip. "How many did you buy last time?", I asked. "Oh, about 60." And that was just the Samosas, not including the pounds of vegetable and paneer Pakoras that would make their way back downtown. Some wouldn't even last that long. They must be good.

A-One's famous 'English-style' samosas

The Indian sweets and snacks looked fabulous, but some were unfamiliar to me, so I asked our server Tara, pointing to some thick fried triangles that looked like half a sandwich and asked - "What's that?" Smiling, she responded, "Two slices of bread filled with mashed potato and deep fried, it's a Pakoda". I saw what appeared to be spring rolls and asked "What's in that?" "Mashed Potato". I think they were samosa spring rolls, but can't be sure. Another snack looked particularly inviting, rather like a crab cake — "What's this one?" "Aloo Tikki," she smiled, "It's made with mashed potato." 

Aloo Tikki

But Aloo Tikki are more than that, they're delicious. You can taste the smooth salty taste of the potato along with the sweet flavors of curry, peas, and ginger and cumin seeds with a jolt of heat from the chili and ginger. Typically they're served with a chickpea curry, but they're absolutely amazing all on their own. The spicy vegetable pakoras were my favourite, made with fresh cauliflower, spinach, onion and potatoes mixed in a chickpea flour and deep fried into little savoury golden balls, they were bursting with flavour. Definitely the best I've ever had.

A-One's fabulous spicy vegetable pakoras

I can now attest to A-One's quality. Warm and fresh with a light delicate thin pastry, the triangle-shaped vegetable samosas had a wonderfully savoury potato filling, but not too spicy, which I guess makes them 'English-style'. I also discovered A-One's secret weapon — the batallion of Indian women they have rolling, filling and frying samosas in the back of the shop, along with the kilos of pakoras, aloo tikkis and Indian sweets, from saffron coloured Jalebis that look like glistening pretzels, Galub Jamun — an Indian version of round donuts floating in sweet syrup, and the festive looking Barfi and Kaju Katli, fudge-like sweets made with ground nuts, sugar syrup and spices topped with silver leaf, popular during festivals like Diwali. These women are amazing.

Jelebi, a popular Indian sweet

We finally left A-One, our bags brimming with warm and mouthwateringly fragrant samosas, pakoras and aloo tikki. As we went to place them in the car, the temptation was too great. With crumbs on our chin and a smile on our face, we headed back to the city with most of our golden treasure.