The moment we first tasted the Samusa Soup at San Francisco’s Burma Superstar, we agreed we had to make it at home. It’s a complex and spicy lentil-based soup, with cabbage, bean sprouts, and chunks of samosas and falafels providing texture and taste. Well, an exhaustive net search turned up nothing except posted inquiries from other people looking for the same thing!

So, armed with a photo taken at the restaurant and our collective taste memory, we assembled the following reasonable facsimile. Let me know how it works out for you, and if you have any refinements or corrections.

A note about ingredients: I’m sure this recipe would be better with homemade falafels and samosas, but who wants to bother? Visit your favorite middle eastern sandwich shop for the falafels, and your local Indian grocery for the samosas – they’ll be right at the checkout counter. If not, ask the staff what day the nice lady brings them around. The Indian grocery will have the toor dal you’ll need, too.

Samusa Soup

1 cup toor dal, washed until water runs clear
4 cups water

4 tablespoons ghee
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 dried red chiles de arbol, broken in half
3 jalapenos, seeded and sliced

1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons ancho chile, powdered
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon Indian ground hot red chile (Kashmiri diggi mirch) (or more to taste)

2 cups shredded cabbage

6 cups vegetable broth (more or less)
1 teaspoon Tamcon (Tamarind concentrate)

1 teaspoon garam masala
salt to taste

2 cups mung bean sprouts, washed
4 samosas, store-bought
8 falafels, restaurant-made
chopped cilantro, for garnish
chopped spring onions, for garnish

lemon wedges

Bring the washed toor dal to boil with the four cups of water; cover
partially and simmer until done, 35-45 minutes. Remove from heat and
set aside.

Roast the coriander, cumin seeds, and black peppercorns in a dry
skillet, separately, over medium-low heat until just fragrant.
Cool, then grind in a spice grinder, and set aside.

Fry the sliced onion, jalapenos, and chiles in ghee over low heat until
onions just begin to brown. Add the ground dry-roasted coriander,
cumin, and pepper, and the turmeric, ancho chile, and Indian red pepper.

Raise heat to medium and fry together for a few minutes, then add the
shredded cabbage. Stir and fry until cabbage loses its raw look, around
five minutes.

Add four cups of vegetable stock, the Tamarind Concentrate, and the cooked dal with its liquid. Adjust consistency with additional vegetable stock depending on the amount of broth you want. Cover and simmer over low heat for half an hour or so.

Add garam masala, and salt to taste.

Warm the samosas in the oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes or so, then
add the falafels for another 5 minutes or until all are heated through.

Place one samosa in each of four soup bowls and cut into five or six pieces.
Place two falafels in each bowl and cut into quarters. Add the bean
sprouts, a quarter of the cooked broth, garnish with the cilantro and
spring onions.  Pass around lemon wedges for everyone to season their bowls to taste.

Serves four hungry people.