Samosas being fried near Plaza Chowk in Ranchi on Monday. (Hardeep Singh)
“Jab tak rahega samose mein aloo, tab tak rahega Bihar mein Lalu,” the phrase famously coined by the former Bihar chief minister in his political heyday has already gone wrong.
Lalu is not in Bihar — he is serving time in Ranchi’s Birsa Munda jail in a fodder scam case — while the potato may not have completely gone missing from samosas, its portion has surely shrunk.
With the tuber, a must in almost all dishes, becoming pricey, shops and hotels selling samosas have either jacked up prices of the all-time favourite snack or are going easy the key ingredient.
The samosas, which used to cost Rs 5 a piece just a few days ago, are now being sold at Rs 6 at roadside shops in Bariatu. A few popular sweet shops and restaurants have also increased the rates to Rs 10 a piece for samosas and Rs 55-Rs 70 per plate for aloo chaat and samosa chaat.
“Kya kare? Aloo ka daam itna badh gaya hain (What can we do? Prices of potatoes have gone up so much),” said Mani Ram, a samosa seller near Jai Prakash Nagar Colony.
On Monday, a kg of potatoes was selling for Rs 30 a kg in the capital’s retail market.
Many eateries like Prem Sweets near Plaza Chowk are doling out samosas in less number. Owner Deepak Sharma said: “We are yet to increase prices of samosas and other potato delicacies, but have asked our staff to prepare the snack in less quantities. On an average, we prepare 400 pieces of samosas every day, but now we are going to reduce it to 200 pieces. Or else, our business will suffer.”
Uday Shankar, proprietor of the popular Uday Mistana Bhandar in Lalpur, said they were selling samosas for Rs 10 a piece. “On an average, we prepare 100-150 pieces of the snack every day. But now, we are planning to bring down the number as we cannot take a risk by increasing the prices and lose our permanent customers,” he added.
The worst-hit are the small snack sellers near Kutchery Chowk, who are not in a position to effect a further hike as they had increased the rate from Rs 3 per piece to Rs 5 some time back. “I am buying less potatoes these days,” said kiosk owner Ratan Kumar.
Vendor Pintu Singh has worked out another solution.
“I have reduced the size of samosas, which come for Rs 3 per piece.”