You take the aloo out of the samosa, you take the heart out of the body. But you put the heart back in with a special mix of spices, and you have 'samosa for the soul'. That's what Mitthulal, a financier-broker gone bust, did about a century ago in Allahabad. And thus was born a mouth-watering marvel—the masala samosa. The great and good of the Indian National Congress, stalwarts of Hindi literature, professors and students, high court judges and local goondas—all had a special place in their hearts and mouths for this triangular treat. And visiting dignitaries, having savoured Mitthulal's speciality, would pack some to take away in the shop's distinctive woven-leaf containers.
Winding up his failing finance business in Agra and cashing in on his acquaintance with Motilal Nehru—a flourishing lawyer in Allahabad then—Mitthulal shifted base to set up his namkeen shop in Loknath Gali, a stone's throw from the senior Nehru's house in the city's Meerganj locality. Jawaharlal was born in this Meerganj house and the Nehrus continued to live here until they moved to the sprawling Anand Bhawan (much later, Meerganj would become Allahabad's red-light district). But to come back to Mitthulal and his aloo-less samosa story—he named the shop after his son Hari, and Hari Ki Namkeen in Loknath Gali soon became a local legend, catering at grand parties and weddings, including those of Vijayalakshmi Pandit and Indira Gandhi.