Indian cuisine is known around the world for its rich flavours and wide variety of delicacies. But recently, it broke worldly barriers when an Indian restaurant in the U.K. launched a samosa into space. However, soon after, it crash landed in France.
It took Chai Walla—one of the best ranked takeout joints in the town of Bath—three tries to finally manage the feat they set out to achieve. It all started in December 2020 when owner Niraj Gadher jokingly said he wanted to send a samosa (an Indian deep-fried pastry stuffed with potatoes and spices) and a wrap into space.
“I said as a joke once that I would send a samosa into space, and then I thought during these bleak times [sic] we could all use a reason to laugh,” said the 26-year-old in conversation with SomersetLive.
Why a samosa, you ask?
“Because they’re just the best. The Chai Walla samosas are special and they’re one of the highest selling items on the menu,” Gadher told VICE.
For this ambitious experiment, he used an aloo (potato) samosa — “the best kind” — that was deep fried for longer than usual to ensure it was extra crispy, and lasted long in space.
He put both, the samosa and the wrap in a box, which he attached to a helium balloon along with a GoPro camera and a GPS tracker. But he was far from done.
The first attempt went kaput when Gadher accidentally let go of the balloon even before the humble samosa was properly strapped in for the ride. The second attempt was thwarted by a lack of helium. But as they say, third time’s a charm. On the third try, the package slowly took flight, and with the camera capturing its every move, rose over the Bath skyline and into the sky, where it even came close to an airplane. However, the GPS malfunctioned, possibly when it went higher into space, and Gadher and his friends lost track of the samosa.
But it miraculously came back to life the next day and alerted Gadher that it had landed in a forest in Caix, France, over 300 miles from where it had taken off. In a bid to reunite with the camera and the space-sojourning samosa, he and his friends began to message people in the area on Instagram to ask if they’d be willing to hunt it down.
An Instagram user finally responded and hesitantly agreed to forage for it in the wild, even though the location was almost an hour away.
“I was quite surprised when I received this message on Instagram. I didn’t understand why he contacted me, because it’s still an hour from my house,” Axel Mathon told La Voix Du Nord. He later remembered he’d gone to a concert in the area some time ago.
After driving for an hour, Mathon chanced upon the remains of the balloon in the middle of a field, with a GoPro in it. However, the food was nowhere to be found, possibly wolfed down by the local wildlife. But luckily, the camera survived, and Gadher could post a video of the samosa’s space odyssey on YouTube, where it has garnered over 58,000 views in three days.
“It was a bit like a treasure hunt, I thought it was crazy! We usually see this kind of story in the United States. Well, this is in a lost field in Picardie,” Mathon told France3.
In the video, he can also be heard saying that he can’t believe he found it in time before people came out to the forest for their Saturday hunt.
The whole experiment might have led to a comedy of errors kinda situation, but it wasn’t just the result of a joke taken way too seriously. Gadher also has a deep interest in space, which got lost somewhere amidst his stint in hospitality.
“I love space and I wanted to find a way to combine it with my business,” he said.
Although a little concerned about the environmental impact of the two helium balloons that got away, he promised to be more organised with such stunts in the future.
Talking to SomersetLive, he said, “I'm really sorry to everyone that we lost those balloons, for environmental reasons — that was obviously not the plan.”
The experiment kept him on his toes for a whole day, but it was worth it, he said. “The feedback is that it's bought a lot of laughter from people and that's what we wanted really, to spread joy,” he said.
Surprisingly, this is not the first time a samosa has made it into space. Indian American astronaut Sunita Williams also said she’d carry samosas on her voyages into space. She would also wait for them to be to delivered to her during her time living at the International Space Station in 2007.
The Indian street food staple is clearly out of this world.
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