The delicious world of Indian street food is as vast and diverse as the country itself. However, within this kingdom, Pani Puri or Gol Gappa is undoubtedly the king.
Whether you are getting it from a street vendor or your favorite chaat Palace, there is no doubt that Pani Puri – a small, hollow crispy ball of fried dough filled with potato masala and dipped in spicy mint water or sweet chutney – will leave you satiated and happy with its lip-smacking tangy/sweet goodness.
For millions, Pani Puri is the ultimate comfort food to end the day. But how well do you know about this evergreen chaat recipe? Pani Puri origin? Not a lot, huh…
Here’s everything you need to know about Pani Puri’s origin, varieties, and cool facts, etc…
Pani Puri Origin Saga – Who Invented It?
According to Pani Puri lore, the story of Gol Gappa has two versions to it: one mythological and the other, more historical. As per the Myth, Pani Puri can be traced back to the “Mahabarata.” The story goes like this:
When the newly-wed Draupati came home, she was given a curious task by her mother-in-law Kunti to test if Draupadi could run home with the scarce amount of resources available to them while in exile.
Kunti gave her some leftover vegetables and just enough dough to make one Puri and told her to make something that will satisfy the hunger of all 5 Pandavas. The resulting dish was none other than Gol Gappa or Pani Puri. As per the mythology, pani puri was invented by Draupati.
What the Actual History Books are Saying?
Historically speaking, it is widely believed that “phulkari”, an ancient variant of modern Pani Puri, first originated in the Magadha Kingdom (now a part of Bihar) 300 to 400 years ago. It really makes sense considering that it was around the time when salty snacks or “Farsan” were becoming super popular in our subcontinent.
Either way, Pani Puri has become an immortal part of Indian street culture. The history is a bit complicated, but this is one dish that brings ALL of India together in one bite.
How to Prepare and Eat it? How Does it Taste?
Pop, crack, gulp, and gasp – the way of eating Pani Puri are an art form itself. First, poke a hole on the Puri with your forefinger tip, and load it with your favorite filling – be it mashed potatoes, green sprouts, chopped onions with mints, or “masala-fried” mushy peas – and dunk the whole thing is sweet and sour tamarind water and green chutney in quick succession.
Then just pop the whole thing in your mouth and wait…
Even a bit soggy, the Puri crumbles fast, setting off an explosion of flavors in your mouth that fills your soul & clears the sinuses. Just make sure to wipe your chin free from the liquid that’ll dribble down, though…
What Gives Them Their Unique Taste (Hint: It’s Not Magic)
No two Pani Puri’s will ever taste alike. This is because the veggie fillings offered changes from a vendor to vendor. Some offer mashed potatoes with chilies for a spicy kick, while others use boiled yellow peas and onions for savouriness.
Pani Puri’s are served alongside many dipping condiments and syrups;
Some vendors also offer grated carrots or saviya as fillings, which will add another layer to the already exciting & intrinsic flavors of your Pani Puri session.
What is Pani Puri Called in the Different States?
Interestingly, the humble old Pani Puri, from an ingredients POV, has stayed pretty uniform in nature across all of India. Hey, that’s not to say it all tastes the same – there are still a few certain variations depending on the region (we’ll get to that in a minute).
The major differences of Pani Puri mainly relate to how they are called; Pani Puri is a Mumbai term, whereas, in Delhi, it’s known as Gol Gappa. Kolkata loves it as Puchka, and in Uttar Pradesh, it’s Pani Ke Patasha. In certain places, it’s also called Falk, Pakodi, and lastly Gup Chup, which is our favorite name yet.
Another difference lies in what flours are used for the Puri base & which tastes best – Semolina, whole wheat, or refined flour. What’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments.
5 Different Versions of Pani Puri – Let’s Talk About the Varieties
While the differences are pretty mild, these 4 versions are universally accepted as the finest Pani Puri versions that are available now. Let’s break them down;
1. Mumbai Pani Puri
The most popular of the lot, the Mumbai Pani Puri, features hot ragda (thick white peas curry) as a filling and tangy green and tamarind chutney for dipping. Some versions also use Mashed or sliced potatoes with some Moong
2. Puchka or Phuchka
Popular in eastern India, the Puchka tastes a lot different than Mumbai Pani Puri – it uses a blend of a boiled gram and mashed potatoes for the filling. The chutney is sweeter and tangier, and the Puri’s themselves are bigger and darker
3. Gol Gappe
Go on over to North India, and you’ll find Gol Gappe – a Pani Puri type that has nearly the same fillings as their Bengali cousins but comes dipped in a mint-flavored and spicier water. The use of Suji and Semolina gives the Puri’s a lighter shade.
Not to be confused with Pakodas, the Pakodi Pani Puri is notable for its use of Sev, and abundant use of grated carrots and finely chopped onions, and a slightly sweetened chutney. It is usually served with water that’s heavy on mint & green chilies.
Pani Puri is one of those chaat dishes that you can enjoy at any time and get your cravings under control without any guilt of any kind.
It is super healthy, so don’t fret about adding pounds to your waist. The chaat is also very affordable; hence you can binge on it all you want alone or with friends.
So yeah, to say it’s the best comfort food will probably be an understatement. Trust us; when you have a Pani Puri in your mouth, for those few seconds, Everything will feel alright in the world.
So, don’t wait anymore. Go out & grab your plate of Pani Puri today!