Who makes the best samosa, the pyramidal fried Indian snack that’s a fragrant fiesta wrapped in dough? I think Spice ‘N’ Rice does. But in time-honored custom, as much here as in India, this should be a subject of fierce debate. I can only allow my most recent of many visits to the casual Richardson spot to speak for itself.
It was a quarter to 10 p.m., fifteen minutes to closing, and I had dined at one Indian restaurant—a debacle—followed by another—not at all a debacle—and all I wanted, all I really wanted was one glorious, crunchy bite, one most excellent samosa. And so I arrived slightly wide-eyed, hoping they would have just one left.
They did, and it came fried to order, piping hot, a craggy behemoth full of potato, peas, and whole spices—cumin, coriander, mustard seed—the crust sturdy enough to stand up to its generous contents, but crisp enough to shatter as you start to break off corners, letting a little steam escape. At Spice ‘N’ Rice, the finishing touch is a dusting of chaat masala, the savory spice blend with black salt and the distinctive savory tang of dried mango powder (amchoor). The mahogany deep-fried fritter is festooned, too, with fresh cilantro leaves, served with the requisite tamarind and cilantro-mint chutneys, and overall rather brilliant: salty, spicy, savory, crunchy. (At a chaat house, you can get samosas crushed roughly into samosa chaat, running with rivulets of cooling yogurt. This qualifies as among the pantheon of truly great snack foods, for late nights or tea time, or anytime the craving strikes.)
Samosas served elsewhere may be more subdued, their envelopes thinner, the potato filling smoothed out, the spices subtler, with fewer heady interludes of cumin seed and coriander. In my opinion, a proper samosa should be bold and audacious, a confluence of texture and flavor. Are you ready to commit, it asks, sending up steam tendrils and exotic aromas to tickle your nostrils. Yes. Dig in with knife and fork.
And the naan—because you’d better have naan; you’re here, and it beckons—is also good, fresh from the tandoor oven and lavishly brushed with both butter and ghee.
“These are snacks for a maharaja,” I tell the young man behind the counter, sighing with contentment, though the place is no-frills and humble as a roadside dhaba. The naan will set you back $1.49, and the soft-ball-sized samosas even less. For a moment, they erase the memory of anything you’ve eaten before. And if you arrive at 9:45 p.m., eyes slightly wild, you do make an impression. “I’ve just never seen someone who cared so much about samosa,” the smiling attendant says on the way out. But there you go. This is the spot for late-night raids on plump, spice-filled, freshly fried-to-order potato-and-pea samosas and warm tandoor naan brushed with butter and ghee.