A trip to Samosa House, daydreaming of India
Last week, at a blogging conference in Atlanta, I met Sonia and Raja, creators of VelvetAroma (a blog recipe search site so new, it is in beta). After our requisite “What blog do you write?” questions and answers, we exchanged thoughts and experiences of travel, landing on the riches of cultures and flavors in India. When I got home to Los Angeles, I dug out a map of India, and daydreamed. I have had this dream before.
I never made it to India on a trip to the Arabian Peninsula last year. India’s influence in the region was entrancing, each imported spice in the souks singing “Come on over! We’re just across the water.” Curry dishes were as common as lamb kofta in alley restaurants. This weekend, Los Angeles became my India as I set out to make a fish curry to quell the homesickness for a place I have never been.
Samosa House is a long-standing eastern-Indian grocer and takeout in Culver City, California. Between shopping for my own ingredients, eating, drinking chai, eating some more, talking to people and trying to remember to take pictures, what started as an ingredients trip became a field day. One of the greatest gifts that can be given to any photographer (even us amateurs) is not a fancy new camera or lens, but full access to a subject. They welcomed me with open arms. I doubt they thought that meant I would stay for hours.
The all-vegetarian takeout menu is full of curries, rices, lassis, and samosas, all heavy with ingredients from exotic jackfruit to more recognizable spinach. One trip down the aisles adds a full Indian pantry to a home kitchen. The shelves frame a contentment and familiarity in the store that is hard to leave, with regulars coming through the lunch-hour line, chatting with each other and the cashiers while waiting for their food.
Making a curry from scratch is an act of self-expression. 30 different cooks will make 30 different curries according to what they like and who they are serving. Someday, I hope my trip will be just like this curry, with a little bit of everything in it. For now, looking at maps and visiting Indian stores is as close as I get to India, which is still just across the water, with a piece of it right down the street.
11510 W. Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90066
Open 7 days, 10am-9pm
Wheelchair users: Samosa House is on the ground level, with wide aisles and an accommodating front dining area. The store is cramped towards the back. The block is accessible by curb ramps at either end, but accessible parking is tough in this neighborhood. There is parking in the back, with two spots labeled for handicap access, but you must wheel around to the front of the building to enter.