On this date in 1498, Vasco De Gama’s squadron of four ships arrived near Calicut, on the west coast of India. The event would help open up the European spice trade with India, and improve the taste of food in the west for ever afterwards.

The variety of spices discovered by those early travellers is best encapsulated by garam masala; a mix of spices that can be used to flavour most dishes – the exact combination of spices is pretty much a personal choice. The top picture shows the mix of spices of the garam masala used in the samosa recipe below (it’s a mix of mace, green and black cardamoms, star anise, cloves, pepper, cinnamon, bay leaves as well as coriander, fennel and cumin seeds).

A vegetarian samosa recipe , served with some relish.

I’ve forgotten what I put into it (these pictures are more than a year old, but I suspect that there is sweet potato, onion and tomato. Samosas originated in central Asia and reached India in the Middle Ages. Traditionally, a samosa would be fried – this version is baked, to make it a bit more healthy.

A good afternoon’s cooking.