‘Cuisine varies at every forty-fifty kilometres’, -this is the first, one-liner introduction for Indian culinary art — whether it is snacks, main course or dessert — Indian cuisine has a resounding history of thousands of years. In India, the very first popular delicacy that comes to mind as evening snack or street food is ‘PANI-PURI’, — ‘PANI-PURI is a whole bunch of vivid tastes; tangy – savoury – spicy – sweet and a bit salty, this ‘PANI-PURI’ is served right from street side stalls-to-restaurant in first rate, and star category hotels. The unique thing about PANI-PURI is that, from east-to-west and north-to-south this delicacy is reckoned by different names in different regions — ‘Pakodi’ in Gujarat, ‘Pani-Puri’ in Maharashtra, ‘Pani-Patashi’ in Haryana, ‘Pani ke Batashe/Pakode in Uttar Pradesh, ‘Phuska’ in Assam, ‘Puchka’ in Bengal, Bihar, Nepal, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh, ‘Gup-Chup’ in Odisha, and ‘Gol-Gappa’ in few Northern Parts of India.
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On 10th March, 2005 ‘PANI PURI’ was added to the Oxford English Dictionary — well, according to various media reports, the story of ‘Pani-Puri’ has many versions: The first version is that, ‘PANI-PURI’ was introduced during 600 BC in the ancient Kingdom of Magadha (now Southern part of Bihar)- a puri smaller in size and more crispier than that of today. The second version, as per Hindu folklore ‘Mahabharata’ states that ‘PANI-PURI’ was introduced by Draupadi —— Kunti, Draupadi’s mother-in-law threw a challenge asking Draupadi to make a meal from a small portion of dough and leftover curry for all five Pandavas — Draupadi made ‘PANI-PURI’ —— Kunti appreciated her intelligent culinary-art and blessed her dish ‘PANI-PURI’ with immortality; the third version is Pushpesh Pant a proficient food historian’s narrative- according to him, around 100-125 years back ‘PANI-PURI’ (golgappa) had originated around Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Well, two key-ingredients of today’s PANI-PURI: potato and chilli came to India around 300-400 years back. The topic, ‘eating pani-puri is healthy or not’ is arguable, but the foodie continues to relish it calling it as a digestive, and hunger-opener, well eating pani puri (pani made of specific ingredients) can cure mouth ulcers too. During the stringent lockdown measures of the year 2020 there is a record surge in the search for ‘PANI PURI’ recipe — according to a report, Google India saw 107% (Hundred and seven percent) rise in its quest — and, this only shows how much Indians love ‘PANI-PURI’.