Devouring Golgappas At Road Side Stalls

Golgappa, the national symbol of Indian street food is a mouthwatering and amazingly tasty street-side delicacy.

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Pradeep Chamaria
Pradeep Chamaria
I am a photojournalist. Love to travel to unknown and unexplored vistas. Since 1992, I make places desirable for other travelers through experiential Travel Writing.

INDIA. Chaat is an Indian word derived from chaatna, meaning “to lick” and it covers a wide range of street foods. Indians love small, satisfying snacks to fill the perfect hunger moment during the day. The world of Indian street food is vast, diverse, with delicious Golgappa being the king. Golgappa is a combination of two words; Gol referring to the crispy shell and gappa referring to the eating process, as Golgappa is eaten one at a time.

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Golgappas. Photo Credits: Pradeep Chamaria
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Adventure of eating a golgappa

Eating a golgappa is an adventure in itself. It all happens within seconds of your walking to a golgappa vendor. He hands you a tiny bowl made of a big leaf, big enough to hold a single golgappa. He then grabs a golgappa from his stockpile, expertly pokes out a hole in the top with his thumb, pushes in a little dab of spiced potatoes and spices, dunks it into the container of room temperature jal jeera/tamarind water, and places it on your little leaf bowl.

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And all of this happens in just 20-25 seconds.

Now it’s your turn for action. And that’s where some untaught skills are needed. It requires much attention and control.

Golgappa. Photo Credits: Pradeep Chamaria
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You pick up the entire bite-sized ensemble and push the whole thing in your mouth in one go. And as you bite down, the golgappa crushes and the tamarind water gushes out with a burst of sourness and contrast of texture and flavor. The spicy mashed potato mixture now mixes with the watery crunch and the thick soupy mix dribbles down the sides of your mouth filling your soul as tears start streaming out of your eyes because of the spiciness.

Wow, that’s a feeling which one has to experience – it certainly is far more pleasurable than it sounds. The flavourful explosion of extreme taste creates a space of its own in your mind and memories. Everything feels heavenly from the moment you put the golgappa in your mouth till the last drop of imli water that tickles down in your mouth from the paper bowl.

And as you come out of the trance after having chomped down on your first one, the vendor is ready to serve you another round.

Variations

Golgappa has its origins in the Indian subcontinent and has a special place in Indian hearts and stomachs and has been experimented with innovative ideas.

Golgappas. Photo Credits: Pradeep Chamaria

Golgappa is known by different names depending on where you are relishing it. They call it puchkas in Kolkata in West Bengal, Bihar, Nepal, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh, pani puris in Mumbai, golgappa in Delhi, paani patashi in Haryana, fulki in Madhya Pradesh, pani ke batashe/padake  in Uttar Pradesh, phuska or puska in Assam, gup-chup in Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, pakodi in Gujarat, and so on…

The differences are minor and are with the shell’s base ingredient, which is either sooji or semolina, whole wheat or refined flour, and the fillings. There are minor variations in the way they are made and served, but who cares? In the end, everybody loves these small, round balls of deep-fried dough of sooji or wheat flour. 

What is a Golgappa

The popular street snack is a crisp, round, hollow, crunchy, and flaky crepe that’s hollow on the inside. It’s about the size of a golf ball and is filled with a mixture of potato, onion, and chickpeas, chili, chaat masala after carving a hole in the center with a gentle prod of the server’s thumb and then dunked in spicy jal jeera and meetha chutney.

Ingredients of Golgappas. Photo Credits: Pradeep Chamaria

In upscale restaurants, a variation of it is served by replacing the chutneys and spicy water with spiced vodka shots, Scotch, or wine and even named as Golgappa Tequila Shot. 

Golgappas. Photo Credits: Pradeep Chamaria

But still, it is best enjoyed on the streets, as a golgappa is best eaten by hand; there is no room for forks and knives. Though the sanitary conditions and the source of water used are questionable at street-side golgappa stalls, it still is irresistible even for foreign tourists.

Golgappa Vendor. Photo Credits: Pradeep Chamaria

I am sure you are now getting impatient and want to rush to the nearest golgappa wallah. So do rush out, enjoy, and I am sure you will feel much better.

“Happy Munching”

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