Before beginning the story let us talk about the “phuchka” aka “golgappa”. When it comes to “Golgappa,” it certainly qualifies as India’s favourite street dish. To understand the meal better, the name “Golgappa” may be divided into two parts: “Gol” refers to the crispy shell, and “gappa” refers to the act of eating to gulp or to gobble each Golgappa individually.
The phuchkawala carefully carved a hole with his thumb in the centre of a circular, flaky ‘crepe’ made of ‘Soji’, or semolina. Then, with diligent care, the phuchkawala added a mixture of boiled potatoes, chickpeas, lemon, green chillies, and occasionally onions for added variation.
He removed the lid of a large steel container to unveil a murky liquid containing bobbling “Gandharaj lemon cut and coriander leaves.” He dipped the phuchka in the liquid and quickly placed the phuchka on the little Shal leaves bowl I was clutching in my hands, drooling. I grabbed the garment and immediately shoved it all in my mouth. Wah! Rich flavours erupted in my mouth, leaving a lasting impression in my mind.
What is pani puri puri made of?
The puri, a small, round, spicy food item (with a diameter of 4-6 cm), is a fundamental component of panipuri. This puri is filled with masala, presented on paper plates or folded Sal (Shorea robusta) leaves, and intended for dipping into tamarind water, known as “the pani.” In West Bengal, the phuchka speciality is crafted by vendors who infuse the pani with the flavour of gandhoraj lebu, a distinctive variety of lemon indigenous to Bengal.
This dish has so much room for exploring and filling it with creativity. A variant of it is offered at pubs in big cities instead of spicy water with Scotch or wine. ‘Pani Puri Tequila Shot’ is a cuisine created to impress and entice outsiders! All of this has rendered the meal iconic, and despite the dish’s convoluted and dubious past, there is no denying that Golgappa unites India’s spiciest and tangiest flavours.
Golgappe is one of the street foods commonly known as ‘pani puri’ in Indian sub-
continent. Depending on the location of India, different names are given to Golgappa.
Paani Patashi is the name given to it in Haryana;
Fulki in Madhya Pradesh;
Paani ke Batashe or Padake in Uttar Pradesh;
Phuska or Puska in Assam;
Gup-chup in some areas of Odisha; and
Phuchka in Bihar, Nepal, Jharkhand, Bengal, and Chhattisgarh.
Golgappe it is In North India.
In Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu as ‘pani puri’,
It is known as ‘gup chup’ In Hyderabad,
In Aligarh as ‘padaka’ etc.
According to tradition, Magadh is where “Phulki,” the ancestor of Golgappa, is thought to have initially originated. The creator, though, is no longer identified in the annals of time. Even though these might be considered Golgappa’s forerunners, the ingredients might be substantially dissimilar. Potato and chilli are two key components of golgappa, and both were introduced to India 300–400 years ago. Pushpesh Pant, a well-known food historian, believes that golgappa originated in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar between 100 and 125 years ago. He asserts that Golgappa might have been created from Raj-Kachori. Someone prepared a little ‘puri’ and consumed it in between other goodies.
Schematic of Phuchka – Pani puri – Golgoppe
A. Preparation of Puri
Preparation of dough by mixing flour, baking soda, salt and water
Kneaded the dough and kept for 15 mins by covering a wet cloth
Dough was divided into 4 portions and each portion was turned to a round structure by using small handy kitchen wood roller Round pieces were fried in oil to make small spherical puris and kept in a bowl
B. Preparation of Puri Masala
Potatoes were boiled and the outer skin was peeled off and mashed properly
Onion (optional), ginger, chilli powder, spices, chickpeas, salt and Indian spices were added to mashed potatoes and mixed well and Tamarind chutney and coriander leaves were added to make food item tasty.
C. Preparation of spicy water
Mint and coriander leaves were rinsed in water and ground with ginger, lemon juice, and chilli powder transferred to a large bowl and little sugar, spice powder, black salt, tamarind and water were added and stirred and mixed correctly. In West Bengal, the phuchka vendors use gandhoraj lebu (a particular type of lemon of Bengal) for flavouring.
A hole was made on the top portion of each spherical puri using a thumb and stuffed with the mixed spice inside it and the puri packed with masala is dipped in tamarind water and served on paper plates or folded sal (Shorea robusta) leaves.
Is puchka a Bengali food?
Yes, puchka is a famous Indian street snack particularly enjoyed in West Bengal.
Where to find phuchkawalas in Kolkata
Kolkata Chat Centre (265C, Rabindra Sarani, near Ganesh Talkies, Ganesh Talkies, Bara Bazar,
Shree Thakur Pandit Ka Phuchka Jitendra & Mina Pandit (P-29, Vivekananda Road, nearby Kamla Girls School for girls at Safari Park
Amrita Chat Center (Shop No. 19, Dhakuria kali Bari Ln, Dhakuria, Babu Bagan, Selimpur
Dilipdar Phuchka at Vivekananda Park:
Dilip Da’s Phuchka here is so popular that people come from far and wide to eat it and take it home. Apart from Phuchka, Dilipdar’s Churmur and Ragda Chaat are also very popular. But Dilip Da’s best item is Dai Puchka, made with sweet chutney.
Dhakuria Dakshinapane Rajendra Fuchka:
Rajendra Phuchka sits outside the Dakshinapan shopping complex in Dhakuria. The best Potato Dum Fuchka in Kolkata as well as the other items of Phuchka i.e. Jal Phuchka, Yoghurt Phuchka, and Sweet Phuchka are also available here.
For Saloni Jhunjhunwala, owner of The Salt House, the phuchkawalla outside Max Mueller Bhavan
Krishnakant Sharma’s Fuchka at Bardan Market:
The taste of spices like coriander, fennel, cumin and kasuri methi make the fuchka taste quite different. Krishna Kant Sharma Phuchka sat outside the Bardan Market with a Phuchka spread. Usually, 6 fuchkas are available here for 20 taka.
Burra Bazar (the seller outside Bara Bazar police station is known for adding hing to the pani),
Puchkawalas at Chandni Chowk and New Market Area are very famous.
Ram Gupta Fuchka at Victoria Memorial:
Outside the Victoria Memorial, many peddlers wait for buyers. But Ram Gupta’s Phuchka Stall here is the most crowded. This stall’s fuchka is popular for its distinctive sour-sweet taste of homemade tamarind paste and spices.
Upendra Phuchka of Chakrabaria:
This trader at Triangular Park in Chakrabariya uses raw bananas instead of boiled potatoes. He is said to have used unripe bananas instead of potatoes for the large Jain community living there. However, the taste of this Fuchka is incomparable.
Pravesh Panipuri Walla Alipore
Enter Woodland Road (lane right next to HP Petrol Pump) in Alipore. This man sells 17 types of fuchka. These include chocolate fuchka, ghooghni, curd and sejwan fuchka.
New Alipore Vijay Prakash Fuchka:
Bijay Prakash Phuchka is famous for its unique taste and low price. The size of the fuchaka here is a bit bigger than any other place in the city.
Phuchka of Durga Pandit in Lake Kalibari
Jal Fuchka is not the only reason this shop is famous. Their Dahi Fuchka and Aloo Dum Fuchka are mouth-watering.
Nanku Ram’s Fuchka at Russell Park:
You can experience the unique taste of mint and asafoetida in the puffs here. Nanku Ram’s USP is that he does not buy ready-made spices. He prepares spices at home.
The phuchka stands in front of shopping malls, school, college and universities, markets, parks, and theatre are highly popular.
Is it phuchka or puchka?
“Phuchka / fuchka” is a term commonly used in Bengali to refer to panipuri or golgappa.
No two phuchkawallas in Kolkata will prepare the same mixture. Because of this, most people have a favourite local “para” phuchkawalla to whom they are very loyal. The phuchka offers customizable options to suit an individual’s taste. Every consumer can ask the phuchkawala to adjust the mixture according to their preferences, whether it’s making it spicier, tangier, milder, or altering other elements.
Nowadays, phuchkas exist in a wide range of variations, including versions from high-end restaurants and quick food chains. Every night in Kolkata, the traditional Phuchkawallas—large basket vendors—appear on practically every street, and people instantly congregate around them to gorge on the authentic flavour.
The Flavorful Village of Fuchka Delights: Sahid Pally Phuchka Gram
Nestled on the border between Kanchrapara in North 24 Parganas and Rathtala in Nadia Kalyani, lies the quaint village of Sahid Pally. Tucked away in the Chor area between Shahidpally and the vicinity adjacent to Rasmani Ghat, Sahid Pally is a paradise for fuchka enthusiasts.
This community takes pride in having the largest fuchka industry in Bengal, where almost everyone participates in the craft of producing these delicious delicacies. The region has become well known for its remarkable variety of fuchka variants, despite its reluctance to formally refer to it as “Fuchka Para” or “Fuchka Gram.” The choices appear limitless, ranging from the traditional Chocolate Fuchka and Ghugni Fuchka to the more exotic Lotte Fuchka, Prawn Fuchka, Mutton Fuchka, Yoghurt Fuchka and even Corn Fuchka.
But how did this village earn its name?
According to local lore, Balai Gyan sustained his family by crafting fuchkas for three decades. Thus, the inception of the Fuchka village in Sahid Colony, Kanchrapara, took root. Today, the village has garnered widespread recognition for its fuchka offerings, with these delectable creations making their way to various corners of the state. People from near and far flock to Sahid Pally to indulge in the fuchka experience.
Every morning, the residents of this village kickstart their day by producing fuchkas, infusing life into the community. They begin by rolling a dough mixture of flour, semolina, and rice powder into tiny circular chapatis. In the next step, the puffs are fried in hot oil. Following this, the chefs focus on crafting delicious fuchka spices. They delicately fill each fuchka shell with spiced potato pulp, and they prepare the sour water using ripe tamarind balls and Gandharaj lemon.
What’s equally impressive is the affordability of these treats; prices range from ₹10 to ₹15 for 10 fuchkas. The fame of Sahid Pally’s fuchkas extends beyond its borders, with these delectable bites making their way to markets in Kolkata, Howrah, Hooghly, and Kalyani. Whether catering to the village’s needs or fulfilling orders for weddings and special occasions, fuchka production continues to thrive within the village.
Sahid Pally stands as a testament to the remarkable journey of a village fueled by its dedication to crafting exquisite fuchkas. From the rhythmic creation of dough to the artful blending of spices, this village weaves together flavours and stories that resonate with each bite, enriching the culture of Kolkata’s street food scene.
Behold! Witness the awe-inspiring chart that chronicles
the wild rollercoaster ride of phuchka prices throughout history.
Brace yourself for the exhilarating twists and turns of this gastronomic journey!
Early 80s 10 phuchkas for ₹1
Late 80s 5 phuchkas for ₹1
Mid and late 90s 3 phuchkas for ₹1
Early 2000s 2 phuchkas ₹1
Mid 2000s 1 plate ₹5 – 8 phuchkas
Late 2000s 1 Plate ₹5 – 5 phuchkas
Early 2010s 1 plate ₹10 – 8 phuchkas
Late 2010s 1 plate ₹10 – 6 phuchkas
Early 2020s 1 plate ₹10 – 5 phuchkas
Currently in Kolkata in 2023
Here price of 1 plate ₹20 – 6 phuchkas only for the classic one. All varieties will have different prices.
A Father’s Flavorful Dream: The Phuchkawala’s Daily Journey in Kolkata
Arjun was a man who resided in the hub of Kolkata’s bustling streets, amidst the cacophony of people. Arjun is both the name of a street corner in Kolkata and one of the most well-known phuchkawalas in the city. His stall, a haven of flavours, was not just a place to savour the tangy delight of Phuchkas; it was also where his dreams took root.
Arjun’s day began as soon as the sun rose, casting a nice glow over the streets. The colourful umbrellas provided shade and added a splash of colour to the urban setting as he enthusiastically set up his modest station. Every time he kneaded the dough, fried the spices, and boiled the potatoes to prepare the filling, he would daydream of a yearning that drove him.
His basic yet profound goal was building a home for his family to prosper. Arjun wanted Maya, her daughter grows up in a family where there was love and hope. He wanted Maya to have the opportunity for a bright future because he had not been fortunate enough to experience one himself. His aspirations were all focused on schooling.
Arjun’s kiosk sprung to life along with the city. He would mould the dough into tiny Phuchka shells with practised hands, each one a promise of a better tomorrow. The sound of the shells slamming into the boiling oil served as a reminder that, like the Phuchkas, his dreams were materialising one glorious moment at a time.
Throughout the day, Arjun’s booth will change into a storyteller’s canvas. With numerous residents and visitors of the city who shared a passion for his Phuchkas, he would enjoy brief moments of laughter, connection, and shared joy.
Arjun’s mind would frequently wander to Maya as the sun rose higher in the sky. Students joyfully walking into a school were seen instead of the lines of people waiting for his Phuchkas. The sound of pennies being traded for his treats later echoed in Maya’s future classroom like a school bell.
Arjun’s dream grew more powerful with each Phuchka he served. His stall, which had once been a means of survival, was now a symbol of optimism. His crafts had a distinct aroma that blended with the fragrance of his dreams for his daughter’s future and a home he could call his.
Arjun would halt his work when the moon was in the centre of the sky, the horizon followed, and a mist appeared on the road. As Kolkata, a city of optimism, continued to buzz with activity, it was clear that even seemingly insignificant actions taken by residents might have a significant impact on one’s world.
As a result, Arjun’s regular activities became an illustration of how dreams may affect people’s lives and travel experiences. With every Phuchka he served, he not only gave customers a taste of Kolkata’s culinary heritage, but he also assisted a parent in realising his daughter’s hopes for a better future. In the middle of the city’s bustling streets, Arjun’s stand stood out as an optimistic reminder that even the most basic tasks may inspire dreams.