Lockdown diaries -The Pani-Puri Challenge

This Corona-Lockdown has revealed two kinds of people. First, like me, who were satisfied with stocking enough rice, pulses, and aata (flour) to last them the month. Then there were those who took the lockdown by its horns and turned it into art.

Now, before I proceed, let me tell you something that most of you probably know already – I am a Foodie. But I have barely any talent for cooking. Jargon like ‘blanch’, ‘meringue’ and ‘double boiler’ scare the wits out of me.

So, while I prepared myself for days of dal-roti-khichadi, pics began cropping up on FB from my friends who were conjuring up these amazing looking dishes. Some posts even had a beautiful story to go with the pics. I loved seeing those pics and reading the stories. It was okay, these friends were talented cooks.

Soon enough others joined in. And then some more. Food pics were everywhere! Invading my senses! (Now is the time to recall that nugget of information I gave you about me a few lines before). My belly began to grumble and rebel against my bland food in light of what my eyes were feeding it.

Finally, I decided to do something about it. I took up the toughest challenge of all. The ‘Pani-puri’ challenge. Pani puri pics were everywhere – from FB to Whatsapp groups to Whatsapp statuses to personal messages even. They were so tempting, it was criminal. I tightened my waist, as the saying goes in Hindi, and started my mission.

After meticulously scanning through the various online recipes, I zoomed in on one. All I needed to do was to knead together some flour with a little suji, ghee, and salt. Simple! I knead the dough as the recipe-lady said I should. The dough turned out tight, like really tight. Like even-poking-your-finger-in-it-required-force tight. Yet, I wasn’t sure if I had done it right, so I kept some roti-dough on standby, just in case. The potatoes for the stuffing were boiled, but stayed unmashed for the moment – first I had to tackle the puri-making.

gol-gappa-indian-street-food-pani-poori-2771943
Note: Not an actual image. This is how pani-puris should look.

After much heave-ho, I managed to roll out the dough into thin discs and cut out the tiny puris. Frying the puris was the next big task. Anyone who’s had pani puris (or golgappe, puchka – whatever you prefer to call it), will tell you the essence of this dish lies in the crispiness and the roundness of the puris. They need to be like little ping-pong balls. I could literally count on my fingers the ones that turned out that way. Most were either flat, or had puffed up just a little bit to make me happy. Several had turned dark brown in colour that told a story of how I had burnt them in a vain attempt to turn them into puffed up balls.

By the time I scooped out the last puri from the hot oil, I was sweating from head to toe. My arms were burning from all the rolling and cutting. Essentially,  I was too exhausted by then to roll out rotis. The roti-dough was set aside. Potatoes were peeled, mashed and mixed with onions and spices. The ‘pani’ or the spicy-tangy water was prepared and set on the table. But I had no heart to take pics. I mean, who takes pics of flat and burnt out pani-puris?

That night my family assured me that they enjoyed the meal heartily. Yet, I have vowed to never attempt this again. Like never-ever. And the next time I have to hoard anything, I will first hoard the pani puri-puris from the pani-puri-waale-bhaiya.

P.S: I have decided to start posting food pics on social media too.

P.P.S: Don’t be surprised if my food pics suggest a new crockery set (and table, chairs, kitchen …) every day.

P.P.P.S (how many P’s can we go up to?): If you spot one of your food pics in my posts, please don’t point it out. It will set a bad example. Others will also start doing it. I am just re-purposing your pics so I don’t feel left out. Afterall when you sent me those pics, you forfeited your right on them…. okay, no? Well, then see you in court. AFTER this lockdown!

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