Our Kolkata college memories are filled with standing infront of the local phuchka vendor starting the conversation with “দাদা টাকায় কটা" and ending with “দুটো ফাউ”. Later when we moved to other cities, it was one of our eternal quest to find a phuchka center and explaining to everyone that gol-gappa or the panipuri is NOT phuchka. Phuchka is a West Bengal and Bihar specialty which varies significantly from rest of India.
When I decided to make phuchk the first name that came to my mind was our friend Jhuma. It was oft rumored that she was going to marry a phuchka-walla and settle down :). We always used to go eat phuchka with her because she got heavy frequent customer discount. One of our college professors saw her eating phuchka while he was coming in and saw her do the same while leaving for the day. Next day in class he asked her whether she stayed the entire day in front of the stall gobbling them down.
Jhuma’s phuchka fondness could only be contrasted against my father-in-law’s disgust for it. He’d share graphic details of the contents on the hands of the phuchka-walla as he dipped it inside the tamarind water. Few who could bear to hear him out could eat phuchka for the next few weeks. Ultimately though the craving won out. I started to write down the story he narrated, but then figured out that most of my readers would just leave this page and not read the recipe.
This recipe takes the easier route of getting packed phuchka like Deep Panipuri and taking it from there.
Ingredients for Tamarind Water
- Seedless dried tamarind (lemon sized ball)
- 1tsp. beet noon (Black salt)
- 2tsp. bhaaja masala. Dry roast and grind to a powder the following
- 1tbsp. whole cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp.coriander seeds
- 4 dry red chilly
- 4 cups water
Procedure of making Tamarind water
Soak the tamarind in one cup of water for about half an hour. Now squeeze the pulp out of it and discard the fiber.
Take around 3 cup of water in a mixing bowl and add tamarind pulp and one tsp. green chili paste to it.
Sprinkle 2tsp. bhaaja masala, 1tsp. beet noon (Black salt) and half a tsp. of plain salt to it. Stir it well till salt dissolves. Taste and adjust salt and sour balance in it.
Ingredients for stuffing
- 1/2 cup yellow peas soaked in water overnight
- 3 medium sized potatoes peeled and boiled
- 4-5 green chilies finely chopped (you can adjust it depending on your spice level)
- 1/2 cup coriander leaves (cilantro) finely chopped
- 1tbsp. bhaaja masala (see above on how to make it)
- 1tsp. red chili powder
- 1 tsp. beet noon (black salt)
- Plain salt as required
In a pressure cooker boil the soaked peas with salt. Cook it for one to two whistles. Let the pressure release on its own. Allow the cooked peas to come down to the room temperature.
In a big bowl take all the above ingredients and add one or to spoonful of tamarind water to it. Mix them well but try to not squish the peas.
Ingredients For phuchka
I bought Deep Panipuri packet from Indian store. Each of the packet has 30 pieces. Here I have given the measurements enough for 30 panipuris. I use the puffed ones for phuchka, and the flat ones for making churmur.
Bringing everything together
Puchka is best had when someone is continually making it for others. If you wait to eat them it will get soggy.
churmurOnce we were done eating phuchka we’d generally get churmur to-go. This is the same thing as phuchka in chaat format where everything is mashed together. We’d take it back home for the family and also as something to munch on as we headed back home.
- 5-6 panipuris specially the flat ones
- 1 medium potatoes boiled and chopped
- 2tbsp. boiled yellow peas
- 1/2 tsp. chopped green chilies
- 1tsp. chopped cilantro
- 1tsp. finely chopped red onions
- 1/2tsp. bhaaja masala (see above on how to make it)
- 1/2tsp. beet noon (black salt)
- 1/2 tsp. red chili powder
- 2tsp. tamarind water
In a bowl mix everything together other than panipuris. Taste to check the salt and sour balance. Adjust accordingly. and keep it ready. Just before serving crush the panipuris and sprinkle over.