Phuchka on the streets of Calcutta...
Recent Washington Post article *somewhat* about finding "phuchka" on the streets of Calcutta.
If you don't want to read the article, basically the author is too fearful of eating phuchka (potato-filled bread doused in tamarind water) on the street because of sanitary conditions - he wonders where he could get it with filtered water. Can't say I can blame him. Has anyone had this on the streets in India?
These are also known as pani puris or golgappas in other parts of India, and yes, I have had them many a time from my teen years on up. After-college treat, standing in the street, assume the golgappa position: straddle legs and lean forward from the waist, open wide, so that it all goes in one bite and no tamarind water gushes down your front.
My immune system handled it very well.
You can get such things in some "off the street" restaurants that serve up street-style food in more sanitary and sit-down surroundings, e.g. chaat places.
Most large Indian cities now have a Haldiram or a Bhagatram or a Bhikharam Chandmal type of establishment. They even cater for weddings and parties.
There are places in the US (e.g. Viks in Berkeley; other cities have places too) that serve golgappas and chaat. Taste and ambience not the same, but very good nonetheless for the nostalgic amongst us.
We had pani puri/gol gappas from a vendor in an upscale street market in Delhi that advertised they were using filtered water so this must be a growing phenomenon. this was an adjunct to a store and not just a guy on the street - I would be more suspicious of the latter. Unfortunately I didnt think the pani puri were that great - Im sure if the guy had been frying the shells fresh I would have been happier (they seemed too thick and chewy).
Thanks so much for the info. Yeah, I've had pani puri here in ther US. From the article, I was sure it was related, but maybe I thought it was a regional variation.
If you had them growing up, maybe your system was used to it? I am sure people from there aren't getting sick all the time, or nobody would buy it.
Hmm, whenever I'm in India I always eat pani puri. Never been sick yet, but I guess YMMV and don't recommend it to the unitiated.
The only places in Bangalore that I trusted the pani puri was either the staff cafeteria at the office or a high end Sunday buffet at one of the hotels. I saw what the street guys were using for water and there wasn't a chance in hell I was going near them.
As an aside the local guys at the office did go to the street vendors for pani puri and on occasion did get ill, but they had their favourite vendor and usually said it was worth it!!!