Pani Puri: the perfect guilty pleasure

Widely known as pani puri in Nepal, the snack was originated from the Indian subcontinent. In India Pani Puri has many variants mainly paani patashi, pani ke batashe, phuchka, Gup-Chup, Golgappa and what not. Fulki and phuchka are variants of Pani Puri found in Nepal. Even though Pani Puri is Indian food, Nepalese have respectfully adopted it. The juice or pani of Pani Puri makes the snack delicious. It is sour and chilly and the taste is sustaining. Pani Puri is something that gives you an intense level of satisfaction.

The stuffing is made out of a mixture of boiled potato, boiled black gram, coriander leaves and salt and pepper for the taste. The pani or the juice is made with water, mint leaves, green chili,ginger, chaat masala, cumin powder, and black salt. It has to be made before 2 to 3 hours before serving to settle the spices perfectly for the intriguing taste. The puri can be bought that are already made or can be cooked out of semi-finished puris widely found in the Ason market. Once is not enough for any Pani Puri lover to get over it. That’s why it is a perfect guilty pleasure. You have to repeat it once or twice before the first serving to enjoy it properly. 

The mythical story behind Pani Puri is quite interesting. It is believed that pani puri came into existence in the kingdom of Magadha that is southern Bihar now. Prior to 600 BC, Pani puri was different from what we eat now. It was called phulki (which is still called now). Those days Pani Puris were smaller, crispier than that of today’s. the stuffing they used is unclear but it is believed that it was some kind of Aalo Sabzi.

Another commonly believed story is from the time of Mahabharat. When Pandavas were exiled with their mother Kunti and wife Draupadi after betrayed by Kauravas in the game of dice (kauda), the mother Kunti gave a daughter in law Draupadi a challenge to cook something out of Aalo sabzi and a small amount of dough that could satisfy all the five Pandavas. The reason for the challenge was believed to check Draupadi would be a good wife and to see if she favor one brother over others. Fortunately, she originated pani puri that all the five Pandava brothers liked. Draupadi resourcefulness impressed Kunti and she blessed the dish with immortality.

What a strange and interesting myths. If these stories are true, we really live in a small world. Such ancient made dish is our first choice for street food now. Even if the Pani Puri originated from India, here in Nepal we cherish the snack passionately. I have seen enough to understand the Nepalese unconditional love for Pani Puri from young people to old people. It’s the amusing taste that you can say no to. Pani Puri is the king of street food in Nepal.

By: Sanjay Rajbhandari

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