Not your typical samosa

Posted on Front of House Mar 2011 - by Tandoori Magazine
Not your typical samosa

Ravi and Jaspinder Sidhu are not only a married, but also creators of the upmarket samosa and café brand Jaswa. The latter tells Tandoori how the concept came about.

The husband and wife team of Ravi and Jaspinder Sidhu may not have come from a food sector background, but with the launch of their first such venture in Reading, Berkshire, they have certainly aimed high.

What it isn't though is a restaurant or contrary, to what most people would expect, an outlet with a conventional menu. Instead, what the twosome have launched is an upmarket "baked samosa company" with the brand name of Jaswa, which is a high quality samosa with distinctive fillings, being served amidst the surroundings of a very comfortable looking Caffè Nero or Starbucks-like café outlet.
Is this a first for the Indian food industry?

"With Ravi being a big foodie," says Sidhu, "when he arrived in the UK after we were married in 2008, he was looking to start up some kind of business venture. We spent a lot of time together in cafés just sitting and watching, and concluded that these establishments were effectively mini restaurants that were informal yet very popular. Similarly, we also observed that Indian cuisine was usually only appreciated by the indigenous population as an evening dining concept and not daytime."

The decision on how to proceed lay in the merging the success of the cafe outlet and Indian street food - particularly a subcontinental staple: the samosa. The more the couple considered the samosa to be at the heart of their planned venture, the more interesting it became to them.

"As we all know," states Sidhu, "a samosa is usually served as a starter on Indian restaurant menus. But it's actually quite a versatile food item where one can use a great range of fillings. Ravi and I compared it to a pasty and concluded that it had just as many merits."
The difference between a typical samosa and what Jaswa is about is that the latter isn't deep fried, its baked. The pastry is of high quality while the fillings have more than a modicum of imagination about them.

"We wanted to create a samosa," notes Sidhu, "that not only satisfied mine and Ravi's palate, but could also be enjoyed universally. To achieve this, we worked with Leith's Food Solutions for well over a year to develop the samosa to our specifications with the actual manufacturing subsequently being done by Bombay Halwa. In particular, we focussed on the pastry and getting it absolutely right. We also wanted a diverse range of fillings which would be suitable for meat and non-meat lovers. In addition, we created sweet flavoured samosas which could be eaten as both dessert, and with our outlet open from 8am to 8pm, as breakfast food that people could purchase on the way to work."

While Sidhu is at pains to point out that its still early days yet, plans are afoot to open further Jaswa outlets as well as to have the samosas sold at quality delicatessens and department store food halls.


Sample Menu

Jaswa

Savoury Samosas
Chicken Tikka - Tender chicken cooked in a tasty and rich exotic coconut masala
Lamb, Lentil, Spinach and Ginger - Medium spiced finest quality braised lamb laced with ginger
Salmon and Cauliflower - Salmon fillet delicately flavoured with cumin and turmeric
Pea, Mint and Paneer -  Fresh and minty, scented with cumin and mild spices
Superfood - Jaswa lentils, chick peas and kidney beans mixed in a spicy dhal

Sweet Samosas
Chocolate, Pistachio and Whipped cream

Jaswa Chocolates
Mint, chili, pistachio, cardamom, cinnamon, truffle and sea salt with the finest white, milk and dark chocolate

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