Given Name: Puchka
Alias: Panipuri*, Phuchka, Gol Gappa, Gup Chup
Place(s) of Origin: India
Place Consumed: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Common Features: Potatoes, chickpeas, puri, tamarind, water, a newspaper (taking the place of banana leaves)
Background: I was teaching English in Shenzhen, China at the time and had a week of vacation on the horizon. Although I could get my fill of South Asian eats in both Shenzhen and Hong Kong, its southerly neighbor, a visit to Dhaka, Bangladesh sounded like a big city (street food) treat. The vagaries of my school schedule meant that I had to fill out the visa application with plenty o’ question marks, though seeing as Bangladesh gets about two foreign tourists a year, it wasn’t a nuisance to the consular officials.
Verdict: Believe it or not, I can be skeptical about street food. Considering that one of the main components of puchka is water, I did take a step back from the stall before making my way to the rusty stool. And for those of you with food texture issues, puchka is a bit of a gray area. The puri is crunchy, the potatoes and chickpeas mushy and the water, if you’re lucky, wet. The tartness of the tamarind was an unexpected pleasure, helping to lessen the richness of the potatoes, chickpeas and various spices. A success, not only for the taste, but also for being able to keep up with days old news. Slightly more productive than learning about another person’s kidney issues.
Recipe: Making the puri; Recipe 1; Recipe 2;
*(Hindi) Pani= Water
(Various Indian languages) Puri= Puffy and fried unleavened wheat bread