Karachi University (KU) is famous for, if anything, its one-bite samosas. Wrapped in a thin layer of crispy pastry with a filling of mouth-watering mashed potato, these little delights have just the right amount of salt and spice. The one-bites are sold at a famous stall in KU’s Prem Gali - a renowned attraction for food lovers.
While there are many food stalls in Prem Gali, ‘Qasim Samosa Shop’ is perhaps the most famous for the little scrumptious delights it has to offer. Besides the mini-samosas, the stall’s chicken vegetable rolls are also quite popular.
“We have been selling these samosas here for the past 42 years,” said the stall owner, Salim Sheikh, as he deep-fried the one-bites for two students. He explained how the business was first set up by his grandfather 42 years ago and then carried forward by his father and then Sheikh himself.
As delicious and popular as they are, these mini-samosas are sold for only Rs2 each while the rolls cost Rs15 each. The best part is, Sheikh sells them fresh and crispy all the time. He fries them then and there whenever someone places an order.
While his stall is smaller than the others in the street, Sheikh said that he, along with two of his aides, never stays free. Inside the stall, there were two large frying pans filled with burning oil. Two large trays of rolls and samosas to be fried were kept besides the pans.
“We set up our stall every day at 9am and leave the university in the evening,” Sheikh told The Express Tribune. According to him, he sells 1,500 to 2,000 samosas every day. “It happens many times that our stock is finished and students keep coming asking for them,” he said.
Interestingly, Sheikh did not know the amount of potato and other ingredients needed in the recipe. “My mother and wife prepare the filling,” he said. “We just wrap and fry them.”
Talking about his customers, most of which are students, the owner said that he has many ‘regular’ customers. “There are many customers who have graduated from the university but still come here to enjoy these samosas,” he said. “Some students of the 1982 batch, who are now elderly men, are my friends and come to my stall to have them.”
When asked which season is the most lucrative in terms of sales, Sheikh said that his business was affected in summers as students prefer having juices in the brutal heat. However, the month of Ramazan brings about a good turnover for him. “The business is only affected in summer,” he said. “In the month of Ramazan, students take uncooked items to fry them for Iftar.”
Speaking of how the students treat him, Sheikh seemed content. “These are my children,” he smiled. “They have never mistreated me.” He explained how members of all the student political parties respect him and inform him ahead of time whenever there is a problem in the university.
The only thing Sheikh complained about was the attitude of the KU administration. “For this small stall, I have to pay an amount of Rs4,000 monthly,” he lamented. “I have requested them many times to give me more place for my stall.”
While he has never received any complaint regarding the taste and quality of his samosas, students sometimes complain about the quantity of the filling.
“We also offer food services for starters on weddings and different parties,” said Sheikh.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2015.
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