Pani Puri is not just a street food in India. It is some what a part of our cultural identity. The vibrant culture of India includes street plays, street shopping and some awesome street food. It is really really difficult to find an Indian who doesn't drool over pani puri.
Having said that, Pani puri is only a generic term for this Indian street food. It is known by various names and made differently across the length and breath of India. And yet, it is one of the few things that binds us together. Let us take a tour of India and meet all the cousin varieties of this street food.
Pani Puri & All Its Cousins:
1. 'The' Pani Puri: This term is popular in the western parts of India like Mumbai, Pune etc. The basic recipe of this splendid dish is a plate full of crisp hollow balls that are cracked open and served with a gravy. Nobody knows the exact constituents of the 'puri'. The recipe is a secret that passes down generations of vendors in a family. In its original form, this dish is served with green chutney, tamarind chutney and a gravy of 'chole' (grams).
Best Place To Eat: The fantastic view of Juhu beach in Mumbai and a plate of delicious Pani puri in your hand, picture perfect!
2. Puchka: Lets take a turn and go far East from the extreme West. Kolkata, the city of joy, has its own variety of this iconic street food. In the Eastern parts of the country, puchka is a rage. The 'puri' here is substantially larger and stuffed with boiled potatoes mixed with raw spices. The puri or puchka is then dipped in tangy tamarind water and it is served in a special 'shaal pata' cup (small bowl made out by stitching dried leaves).
Best Place To Eat: Eating puchka standing next to the terrific background of Victoria Memorial in Kolkata and dripping tamarind water all over your face; this is the real way to enjoy street food in India.
Gol Gappa: Now as a good Indian, we shall return to the capital. Delhi in the North, is the seat of the delicious Gol Gappa. The filling of Gol Gappas is very similar to its Bengali cousin. However, it contains a generous amount of boiled 'chole' (grams) and the puri is made of 'suji' (semolina) instead of flour.
Best Place To Eat: Eating on the streets of Connaught Place, after a successful shopping expedition.
Gup Chup: This is a popular name for a variety of the same delicacy that is popular is Central India. The states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh savour Gup Chup which is very similar to Gol Gappa. There are many variations of this variety too. If you go northwards, the Gup tastes more like the flavours of Delhi and as you come eastwards, it resembles the taste of Kolkata.
Best Place To Eat: You can have in front of the famous University of Bilaspur in Chattisgarh.