City Food - Gol Gappa, Around Town

City Food – Gol Gappa, Around Town

Food of Delhi

Taste explosion.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

It is more felt than tasted. The shell cracks open, the cold, intense spiciness washes around your mouth. Before you know what is happening it is gone.

Made of whole-wheat or sooji flour, the delicate, round, deep-fried, crisp golgappas are Delhi’s most playful snack. The vendor pinches a hole in the hollow globe, shoves in a few boiled potato cubes and chickpeas, dips it into an earthen bowl filled with the spiced tamarind water and hands it to you.

You open your mouth wide and pop in the whole golgappa at once. The water bomb explodes and its filling floods your mouth. If it is very spicy, your feel the heat rising to your nose and ears. There can be some respite from the chickpeas and potatoes, but it may not be enough. What next? A true braveheart will ask the golgappa walla bhayya to add more chillies. The more sensible soul will request him to add the sweet tamarind chutney. No matter how pungent the water is, you will not surrender before finishing all the six or eight golgappas that come in the serving.

They are best experienced in street stalls where they are stacked inside a glass case to be protected from moisture. Golgappas are found in every market, including the bigger ones like Chandni Chowk, South Extension, Sarojini Nagar and Sadar Bazaar, or even at your tiny local shopping hub. You stand around the cart with other faithfuls and patiently await your turn as shoppers walk past, unaware of the powerful sensations that have gripped your soul.

As a gesture to fine dining, prestigious eateries, such as Evergreen Sweet House in Green Park (since 1963), serve golgappas on the table. The water is served in a bowl, the empty golgappa cases are arranged on a plate, and the chickpeas and potatoes come in bowls. It is pretentious; there is even cutlery to go with it. If you are willing to ignore this shocking violation of golgappa protocol, the spine-tingling effects of the water will be much the same.

At the restaurant chain Punjabi by Nature, a startling innovation has taken place in golgappa presentation. Instead of the familiar spiced water, they are served with vodka.

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