Welcome to my crappy world...

Welcome to my crappy world...
The inner landscape is often full of oxymorons...at least mine is!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thank You God for This!!!!

Today my research based article is based on something that is an undisputed favourite of all Indians, few of its neighbouring countries and all the food connoisseurs from across the globe; something that unites people beyond cultural and social barriers. Yes, I am talking about Pani Puri!
                           Whenever I get Pani Puri attacks, My husband gets a panic attack because I need to have at least one come what may to tackle it.
This lip-smacking savory consists of a crisp sphere made using either wheat flour or semolina that is stuffed with a variety of fillings depending on the place where it is being served; then generously dipped in flavored water which again varies from place to place.
We all have something that we secretly or not so secretly hate to share. For some, it might be your louis vuitton handbag, your Kanchivaram saree or your Apple products. However, for me, it is my plate of pani puri so much so that I cringe with pain even when my three and a half-year-old daughter (who is the pani puri of my eye) picks up only the puris from my 12 Dhirams plate of Pani puri that is generously served with 6 puris. My husband who has been funding this indulgence of mine since 12 years has had false hopes off late of demotivating me from eating lots of pani puri by orally converting Dhirams to Indian Rupees before me.
The filling or the flavoured water tells a story about that place. It is predominantly the boiled potatoes with spices that are available everywhere. There are variants to this as you visit different parts of India. Western India has Ragda filling(thick white peas curry), some parts of South serve this with boiled peas, grated carrots and diced onions. Some new age eateries claiming to make this healthier serve them with sprouts. The pani (flavored water) can be dominantly made out of tamarind, raw mango, chilies, mint leaves, dates, Garlic, and the list can only get innovative.
The world record of serving Pani Puri in the most number of flavours to be precise 51 flavours has been recorded by the Golden Book of world records. This has been jointly achieved by Indori Zayka & Dainik Bhaskar from Madhya Pradesh, India under the guidance of master chef Neha Shah on July 12, 2015, at Vidorra restaurant.
A lot of Indian cuisines have multiple folktales to describe their origin as the facts are somewhere lost in the pages of history. Similarly, there are 2 such interesting narratives that talk about the origin of pani puri. It is believed that phulkis first originated in Magadh (Present day Bihar) at a time when several traditional specialties of the region like chitba, pitthow, tilba & chewda of katarni rice were evolving.
                                                  Another legend associated with this dates back to the era of Mahabharata. The newly wedded Draupadi who married the Pandavas was put to test by her mother-in-law Kunti. Since the Pandavas were on exile, she wanted to test her daughter-in-law's culinary skill to manage with scarce resources so she gave some leftover potatoes with very little wheat dough and asked her to prepare a dish to cater to the hunger of all her five husbands. So, this was when the new bride invented Pani Puri.
Thank god my mother-in-law didn't choose to use this trick because her Daughter-in-law definitely couldn't have satisfied her own hunger in the first place forget about one or five husbands.

Talk about experimentation, this watery bread provides a huge scope for it. Those of you with a sweet tooth can bless your taste buds with chocolate coated pani puris filled with drool-worthy creamy fillings. You can find them served at the famous Kulfi House in Dubai.

Well, the pure non-vegetarians are also taken care here with the butter chicken Pani puris served as appetizers at many house parties.

The dish has also got jazzed up & you can have vodka Pani Puris. Of course, it can get lethal after a few puris so try this at your own risk.

Molecular Gastronomy, a subdiscipline of food science that seeks to investigate the physical & chemical transformations of ingredients has also reinvented Pani Puris in various ways; from deconstructed Pani puris to this street food looking like a sci-fi dish just out of a chemistry lab, they make it too pretty to eat. You can visit Spiceklub, Mankhool or Tresind Restaurant at Sheik Zayed Road to witness this molecular drama.

So far, we have addressed the desi, videsi, non-vegetarians, fusion lovers, cocktail lovers, but hey! what about the cleanliness freaks? They are the most important ones to keep this dish alive for the generations to come. Well, in the wake of Swatch Bharath campaign, there are pani puri vending machines installed at an eatery joint in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. These machines are available online too for purchase. 

Phulkis, Paani Ke Batashe, Gol Gappa, Phucka, Gup Chup, Pakodi, Pani Puri...many names one soul. This simple streetside snack has undergone many makeovers with exciting fillings from healthy juices to Chinese, Thai and Mexican spices. It is also showing up on fine dining menus different from its humble avatar for those who feel like clutching their pearls while witnessing the table etiquettes going for a toss.

However, for those who don't mind calling out "Bhaiyya Ji thoda aur theeka banao" even if it was George Clooney making this snack, for those whose Pani puri  marathon is incomplete without asking for that extra sukha puri at the end, it is gratification time for this savoury that has shown many of us to find happiness in the smallest of things in life.

Thank you, God, for Pani Puri!