Sunday, April 26, 2009
Red Devil forever
Friday, April 03, 2009
The Golgappa race
They’re called Paani Pooris in Maharashtra, Phuchkas in and around Bengal, Gup chups in Orissa and Jharkhand and Golgappas in most of
In the heydays of my childhood, I confess I wasn’t too fond of these miraculous snacks. I was even more rigid when it came to sour or chili food then and Golgappas in
For me, Suji golgappas win over their aata counterparts any day. I know the shell is supposed to be tasteless, but suji does seem to taste better. Perhaps it’s the texture- Suji being smooth and aata being rough and porous. As far the stuffing goes, I’m not too fussy. Mashed potatoes with the usual jeera, black salt and some chili powder is perfectly fine. I’ve been to places where they stuff the golgappa with chana and that’s ok too, but I’m just more comfortable with aaloo. The stuffing doesn’t really contribute to the taste. It just makes the golgappa substantial, you feel that you did have something solid. I guess it’s the reason why I’ve never gone beyond 3 plates at once. In my opinion, it’s the water which really makes or breaks the golgappa. There are generally two kinds of people- those who prefer the golgappa khatta (sour) or those who prefer it meetha (sweet). Since Facebook as declared that I’m ‘sweet as pie’, I suppose it makes sense that I fall in the latter category.
When I bite into the phuchka, I like the golgappa to explode its various flavours right then. The sour taste generally engulfs my mouth first, making me all the more eager for the meetha to hit the right taste buds. When that happens, bliss. At that moment, I find it the easiest thing in the world to forget everything and just savour the tangy sweet taste that holds me in a trance. I’ve tried golgappas that are predominantly sweet but they’re not the same. Just like you need to cross a desert to taste the elixir in water, you need the khatta to love the meetha. Somewhere during this heavenly moment, I chew the crust and aaloo and swallow it, not really noticing when. The process over, I hold out my plate eagerly for the next one.
The golgappa eating ritual is particularly interesting. As most of you will doubtless know, you order a plate and stand there with the bowl in hand, while the vendor stuffs the phuckha and gives it to you one by one. In case there’s more than one person, as is usually the case, he follows the card dealing routine- one golgappa to everyone, two, three etc. Whenever this ritual is enacted, I always have a mental race with the vendor. The rule is simple. If at any point of time, there are 2 golgappas in my plate, I lose. Otherwise I win. Nice and easy. I’ve seen that when there are 3 or more people, I usually win and rejoice in my puerility. In case of 2 people, the going gets tough, and the tough bites on the golgappa, desperate to win on one hand and eager to enjoy the golgappa on the other- pondering on the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything in the meantime.
As the first golgappa is served, I take a bite and am hit by ecstasy. Having been told that it is healthy to chew the food 42 times before swallowing, I’m somewhere around my 20th munch when the worthy opponent, may he serve many more golgappas, pops the second into my plate. A couple more munches, a gulp and the next golgappa is in my mouth. Not to be outdone, the vendor has already prepared his third round and it lies on my plate now. Frantic chewing follows amidst silent mmmm’s and I manage to pop the third one in before the fourth golgappa finds its way to my plate. Things are difficult now. I’m on the brink of defeat. I resort to grey tactics. There shouldn’t be two golgappas on my plate right? Very smartly, I pick up the fourth one with my free hand. So now, there’s a half-eaten golgappa in my mouth, one in my hand and my slimy though respected opponent has put one on my plate too. Recognizing that defeat is near now, I turn philosophical, thinking- there’s more to life than winning the golgappa race and its in my mouth, hand and plate right now. The fourth golgappa is taken, the fifth is still on my plate and the final blow is dealt. The last one slips into the place left on the plate and Lefty bites the dust. Or Suji and aaloo to be more precise. With grace, I finish off the last 2 pieces with great relish; think about having another plate, occasionally do and toodle off towards the sunset. Chequred flag.
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