Gol Gappas, Paani Puris or Phuchkas: The Indian love for small balls with Spicy water and “stuff” in it

Gol Gappas, Paani Puris or Phuchkas: The Indian love for small balls with Spicy water and “stuff” in it

Whoever has lived in India, north of Vindhyas and not tasted the round wheat balls with tangy, spicy water and other “stuff” in it?

In Delhi, we call it Gol Gappas.  Mumbaikars call it Paani pooris.  And, as I just came to know, Bongs (short for Bengalis) call them Phuchkas.  As much as I like the word Gol Gappas… I grew up with that!… I find Phuchkas to be a rather interesting word for those things.  Short, sweet, and conveys the taste.

For the women connoisseurs of this dish, which is best eaten from the road-side vendor, the sweet tamarind chutney (called Saunth in North) takes away the spiciness of the whole experience.  But, I love it.  I like my Gol Gappas with boiled Potatoes, Chick peas, Saunth, Spicy water and a drop of yogurt.  I know .. I know.. I am timid traveler in the world of Wild East Spicy Eating, but my sweet tooth over rules everything else.

For me, a Gol Gappa eating experience is NOT about stuffing myself with loads of spices… but about experiencing a blend of taste that is truly unique.  It is Indian in its essence.  It is Spicy as heck.. it is sweet.  It is crunchy.. it is smooth as a boiled potato.. it fills you up… and it soothes your energies with the smooth yogurt.  I can’t decide which particular taste I enjoy the most amongst all these, but anyone missing out of my Gol Gappas, makes the whole experience bland and useless.

If you want to make and have a session at home – which I don’t recommend unless you are outside of India – then here is one recipe that I would recommend from Tarla Dalal, a popular food host.  I have not tried it myself, but I am going by ingredients in the paani and the chutney.  For the filling, you can use sprouts or even boiled & smashed potatoes and boiled chick peas.  Of course, a dash of plain yogurt/Dahi makes it great as well.

Every city and area prides in its Gol Gappas.  I have grown up eating them in Delhi at the Karol Bagh market (Punjab Sweets, Standard Burfee, Roshan di Kulfi) and at Bengali Market.  I have also loved the Gol Gappas in Chandigarh from near the 17 sector market.  I am sure there are many places which have great tasting chutneys and Paani – the two secret and critical ingredients.  You can share yours in the comments.

And, these favorites that we carry in our grown up lives score over other areas.  Like this lady from Kolkatta trashes the Gol Gappas from Delhi and Paani Puri from Mumbai as opposed to the Phuchkas from her dear Kolkatta.  🙂 To each its own.

I know that the phuchka from my hometown Kolkata is far superior to its two country cousins. Of course, if you want to start an intra-city fight, just mention this to someone from Delhi or Mumbai and watch the phuchkas fly.

Feel free to weigh in to the inter-city rivalry of GG/PP/Phuchkas! 🙂

feature image courtesy

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