“Flavour your life in such a way that anyone who thinks he or she is biting or back biting you, will rather take smiles away unexpectedly and with surprises.
Strangely enough, when I read this quote, it reminded me of a popular street food from the Indian subcontinent – Golgappa ! You must think that I have a single tracked mind and everything leads back to food. Well, yes I kind of do because I believe that food is not only the nucleus of our family and social life but it teaches so many life lessons too – like how different textures, colours and flavours come together to make one dish taste so much more interesting and appetising! The same way life is so much more colourful simply because we are different in our appearance, believes, cultures and traditions.
Call them Golgappa, Pani puri, puchka or whatever regional name you know, the base or the hollow, puffed, bread shell is always made the same way – with a dough of semolina, plain flour and a touch baking soda. The stuffing and dips vary from region to region. In fact you can stuff them with anything you fancy. The rule is simple – crispy, paper thin, puffed shells, filled with a mix of chickpeas and vegetables, dipped in a tangy, watery tamarind dip. My staple stuffing is boiled chickpeas and potatoes, mixed with chopped onions, tomatoes, green chillies and fresh coriander, and a dribble of yogurt.
Golgappa is nothing without the sour Pani (water). The Golgappa Pani served on the street side stalls in Lahore is of two varieties sweet and sour. You can make one base and then divide it into two bowls to mix sugar in one and salt in the other.
Now this snack is so popular that people make special trips in the evening to the street corner stalls to enjoy platefuls of this exotic treat. Platefuls sound scary quantity wise but actually they are very very light. What I’m concerned about is the hygiene part of the Golgappa Pani sold on the roadside, especially the for dips that aren’t even cooked. Did they use clean water? We’re the utensils clean? Were they made with clean hands? I find it easier to make Golgappa Pani at home for my family than worry about cleanliness standard of the ones bought from outside.
So here comes the recipe for my homemade, easy peasy, nice and clean Golgappas with Khatta(sour) Pani. Just like that quote above, a bite into them will leave you walking away with unexpected and happy surprise of mingling flavours that will burst into your mouth as the crispy shell breaks, leaving you smiling and satisfied.
1 cup Semolina
a pinch baking soda
a pinch salt
warm water to knead
2-3 tablespoon plain flour
1 teaspoon oil
Oil for deep frying
Boiled potato cubes
Chopped green chillies
Chopped mint or coriander leaves
6 cold cups water
1/2 cup Tamarind paste
Black salt or rock salt to taste
1 teaspoon Cumin powder
1 teaspoon Coriander powder
1 teaspoon Black pepper
4 teaspoons Powdered sugar or brown sugar
1/2 inch piece Ginger
1/2 cup Mint leaves
This Is What You Do:
Mix semolina, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Add a little warm water and mix to make a crumbly dough. Leave for five minutes to start the gluten effect.
Add plain flour and oil just to bring the dough together. If it’s too hard and dry, add a little water gradually – one teaspoon at a time, because we need a medium tight dough. Knead for a good five minutes.
Rest the dough for 20 minutes. Oil a work surface so that the dough doesn’t stick when you roll. Don’t flour the surface.
Roll the dough as thin as possible into a round flatbread. Cut with a round cutter or bottle cap small, 1+1/2 inch rounds. Gather the remaining cut outs, make a dough ball with them and roll out again. Cut more rounds. Keep repeating till you have used up all the dough.
Heat oil on medium heat. Drop 2-3 little rounds in hot oil. Do not over crowd the pan.
Press down the rounds with a spatula for a few seconds till they start puffing and push back to the surface.
Fry till golden and puffed up like balloons. Remove to a sieve to drain excess oil. Set aside.
For making Golgappa Pani or sweet n sour dips – mix cold water, tamarind paste, cumin, coriander and black pepper in a big bowl. Divide the dip in two different serving bowls. Add sugar and stir to dilute in one bowl for sweet dip. Add salt in the other for salty dip.
Pound ginger and mint or process in a food processor. Add to the salty dip.
For stuffing mix all the stuffing ingredients in a bowl, except yogurt. Add yogurt in a separate bowl.
To serve, poke holes in the Golgappas or puffed bread shells with your finger. Fill in a teaspoon of stuffing in each Golgappa. Dribble a little yogurt. Serve the dips on the side.
Serves 8 -12