History of Mouthwatering Pani Puri: Tale of Magadhan Kingdom and Mahabharata to an absolute delicacy
Pani Puri, Gol Gappa, Gup Chup, Phuchka is one delicacy with many names around various parts of India. A good dose of phuchka, for every Indian, is complete satisfaction. From the streets to fine dining, it has never failed to put a hearty smile on everyone’s face.
This drool-worthy treat is classified as one of the most popular and beloved chat items throughout India. There is no doubt that there is something very comfortingly familiar about this simple gem.
Origin of Panipuri:
The origin of Phuchka can be tracked to two tales. One of these tales relates to the existence of phuchka with the Magadh Kingdom. One of the sixteen Mahajanapadas of ancient India, the Magadhan kingdom was an empire kingdom that was situated on the banks of Ganga, which is now South Bihar.
While the time of its existence is unclear, it reportedly existed before 600 BC. It is in this kingdom, the predecessor of phuchka, the Phulkis was born. In that period, phulkis were very different from the modern-day phuchka.
The ancient phuchka were made of smaller crisper puri as opposed to the larger puris that are used today. However, the inner filling of the puri still remains a mystery. It is assumed that they used a variation of the aloo sabzi.
The other tale is from the Mahabharata. According to the legend, when the Pandava brothers along with their wife Draupadi and mother Kunti were exiled by the Kauravas, Kunti decided to challenge Draupadi’s commitment to her husbands.
Kunti gave some aloo sabzi and a small amount of dough to Draupadi and ordered her to cook a meal to satisfy all the brothers. Some accounts say that Kunti wanted to test whether Draupadi would be a good wife, others believe that she wanted to see if Draupadi would favor one brother over the other.
Draupadi made little round bread out of the dough and stuffed it with the aloo sabzi. The Pandavas loved the dish and Kunti was delighted with her daughter-in-law. Thus, Draupadi had managed to create the modern-day phuchka.
Phuchka ranges from small to medium-sized hollow spheres that are fried till they become crisp. The dough of puri is made from wheat flour. The puri is first stuffed with either smashed boiled potatoes that are mixed with spices, green chillies or with yellow chickpeas or a combination of both.
The puri is then dipped in tamarind water and together they form this lip-smacking snack. In some places, the vendor gives a puri filled with sweet chutney, grated carrots, sliced onions, curd and sev, which gives a magical taste to the tastebuds.
Different Names and Varieties of Pani Puri:
Phuchka is known with different names in different parts of India such as in Haryana it is known as paani patashi; in Madhya Pradesh fulki; in Uttar Pradesh golgappa, in Bengal and Nepal phuchka; in Assam phuska/puska and panipuri; in parts of Gujarat, pakodi; in parts of Odisha, Bihar, South Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh, gup chup.
Phuchka is quite popular in the eastern parts of India such as West Bengal and Assam. They are different from the classic pani puri since the puri is darker and larger. The chutney is made tangy than sweet, and the vendors provide a choice between sweet tamarind and spicy water. The stuffing consists of boiled grams and mashed potatoes.
This recipe is also followed in some parts of Bihar and Jharkhand. The chat vendors of Kolkata are very innovative when it comes to an individual’s preferences, thereby catering to everyone’s taste.
Pani-puri is the most popular name of phuchka and more commonly used in the western parts of the country such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. In Mumbai, the puris are primarily filled with thick white peas curry and they are dipped in sweet tamarind chutney and tangy green coriander water.
At Madhya Pradesh, smashed potato is added to hollow fried balls, along with flavoured water. In some parts of Gujarat, boondi is added to diced potatoes and dipped in sweet and spicy flavoured water. In Bangalore, onions are a common filling in puris.
Gol Gappe is a generic name for phuchka in the northern parts of India, especially in Delhi. Here, puri is made of flour or semolina. Though the filling is similar to the Bengali version, the flavoured water consists of a dash of mint and lots of spice.
In some parts of Gujarat, phuchka is referred to as pakodi. The puris are decorated with sev and onions while the sweet chutney is mostly left out. Essentially, pakodis are the spicy deviation of the regular phuchka, they are heavily stuffed and very spicy.
Gup Chup is one type of puchka that is found in Odisha, Hyderabad and Telangana. Their unusual name comes from the sound that puris make when they burst, filling our mouths with spicy water. A tasty version of pani puri, it contains chopped green chillies and onions.
They are filled with spices that enhance the taste buds. In Haryana, Paani ke Patashe or Patashi in Rajasthan is a different version of phuchka, where the flavored water is made out of dried mango instead of tamarind. They give a tangy twist to the puris.
In Uttar Pradesh, paani ke batashe is a local favorite. The water is abundant with spices and flavors, and the stuffing consists of mashed potatoes along with chickpeas and gram. In Lucknow, one can indulge in the popular “Paanch Swaad ke Batashe”, with five different flavored waters.
Phuchka is a dish that has a great scope of experimentation. In some bars of metro cities, the spicy water is substituted with scotch or wine. To impress foreigners, there is an interesting dish called pani puri tequila shots. Although they find this version of pani puri enjoyable, they find the classic phuchka very spicy.
Interestingly, puchka can never satisfy your cravings because it ranks low in satiety quotient. Hence, because of this reason, people crave more and more servings of this dish. Phuchka not only enjoys the popularity of India but also every street is lined up with Gol Gappe vendors in different parts of North America.
Phuchka is truly an embodiment of joy. Phuchka is an innocuous street snack, that you generally don’t fall sick after having a moderate serving. The trick is the healthy tamarind chutney water. They really do have a way to trigger our taste buds. It is indeed a culinary delight.
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