Pani puris, a very humble dish that is generally made out of a crispy hollow ball made of wheat and filled with spicy potatoes, ultimately all topped with spicy and tangy tamarind water is no doubt one of the favorite dishes of Indians everywhere. A variation of this street snack is found in every state of India. The simple snack is a favorite of all and for that reason, remains vastly popular. For someone who wants to try making it, you can refer to the available pani puri recipe in Hindi, Marathi, Tamil or English. It is not that difficult to make this favorite dish
The Origin of Pani Puri
There is no one story that you can trace back and confirm as the beginning to Pani Puri. However, there exist two very popular stories explaining how the snack came about to exist.
There are many who trace back the pani puri to the kingdom of Magadh, the empire situated on the banks of the Ganga and had the magnificent city of Pataliputra as the capital. The empire and its capital have been described in travel diaries of Megasthenes, the famous Greek historian and Faxian, and Xuanxang, Chinese Buddhist pilgrims. In Magadh, along with various other traditional specialties like chitba, and tilba, the phulki was also created. Phulkis are believed to have changed to become the dish we now know as pani puri.
The other legend is found in the epic, Mahabharata. When Draupadi returned home as a new bride, she was given a task by Kunti, her mother-in-law, who wanted to test her and see whether she would be able to adjust to the scarce resources that would be available to them while the Pandavas had to remain in exile. The test took the form of giving Draupadi some of the leftover potato and enough dough to make just one puri and ask her to make food that would satisfy the hunger of all five Pandavas. The pani puri is said to have been invented by Draupadi in this situation. Kunti, who was impressed by it, ultimately blessed the dish and gave it immortality.
Pani Puri in Different Parts of India
This snack goes through various changes depending on where you get it from. The name pani puri is used for it in the states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Gujarat. In Mumbai, it is characterized by the ragda with sweet chutney. In Madhya Pradesh, there is potato mash added to it while in Bangalore, the mix has onions added to it as well.
In most of Eastern India, it is known as Puchka and is given with a mashed potato and boiled gram filling with a tangy chutney and very spicy water. Most of Northern India knows this snack by the name of Gol Gappe, which is made of a mix of chickpea and potato stuffing, very tangy water with mint and lots of spices and chutney. The most hilarious name given is water balls, used exclusively by the English at some point. It isn’t hard to see that this culinary masterpiece is much beloved by everyone.