Wikipedia defines the Gol Gappa as “round, hollow, fried crisp and filled with a mixture of flavoured water, tamarind chutney, chili, potato, chaat masala, onion or chickpeas”. Wow! This sounds so sophisticated, yet the real taste of this round, hollow….. substance can only be had when sweating out on the streets of Delhi. Or should it be Kolkata? Or Mumbai? Or Lucknow, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Aligarh and Bhopal for that matter? One can literally start a war in Kolkata by referring to the puchka as pani-puri. Or proclaiming in Mumbai, that gol-gappa tastes better.
Instead of us indulging in any war of sorts, let us simply savour each of them. To start with, these are the regional variations of the round, hollow…. substance:
Let us customarily start with the variety mentioned in this article’s title itself. This variety is ubiquitous to North India and found in possibly every corner in Delhi. Potato and chickpea stuffing is most common here. Mint and spices are added generously to this.
Associated with Kolkata and rest of eastern India, the balls used here are usually bigger. Boiled gram and tamarind are used aplenty here. As Bengal was where potato first got wide-scale recognition in India, particular art-work goes in to the mashed potato concoction used.
Possibly the best known-variety, pani-puri gets instantly associated with Mumbai. It is quite tangy due to the generous use of tamarind, abundantly available in the western part of the country. The same name goes by ingredient variations in Gujarat and Karnataka.
Paani ke Batashe
It is also known as Patashi, and is the regional name in Lucknow. The most famous ones in Hazratganj are known for their sheer variety in the water filling. The mango variety becomes the topo seller during the peak summer.
These are usually bereft of potatoes, so are the lightest to the palate. Gup-chup most popular in Bihar and Odisha, are known for their large size that renders eaters as unable to speak for a while.
Not to be confused with Phulka which is another name for chapatis, it is a variation from Western UP. It isn’t that different from the pani-puri except in the name. Padaka is another name for the same thing produced in and around Aligarh.
This has nothing in common with the Tikki that is usually associated with a potato-based snack. Instead, this is the Gol Guppa version from Bhopal and neighbouring Hoshangabad.
Gujarati food is generally associated with sweetness, and no wonder the Pakodi based around Ahmedabad is best known for it sweet flavor. Another key ingredient added to this is Sev.