Vantage point

Friday, March 11, 2005

Pani Puri in Shimla

The Shimla pani puri, like from all other cities, had some unique points of its own.

The most noticeable one is that the "ragda" used is made from black chana, and not yellow. Secondly, the green water had more of jeera and less of green pepper. And thirdly, the sweet water used has dates in it.

It was delicious, and though it came nowhere close to the Lucknow pani puri, i gulped down two plates.

While on the topic of pani puris, this article from the New York Times is one of the best "Focus on India" articles in the foreign press that I have seen -

Mumbai to Midtown, Chaat Hits the Spot may require registration

It must be tough living in a country where you don't see streets dotted with pani puri stalls wrapped in that trademark red cloth.

I especially love the way the article ends, quoting Marathi author Gangadhar Gadgil

To me pani puri, with its explosive juices and racy flavors, was the most mind-altering chaat. A fine tribute to pani puri appears in a 1991 memoir about Mumbai by Ganghadar Gopal Gadgil. After several thousand words describing the process of eating and experiencing pani puri, he concludes with this tribute to the afterglow that, as I can attest, follows a pani puri binge:

"In that state of beatitude the Maharashtrians stop being surly, the Marwaris look at the millions of stars without being reminded of their own millions, the Sindhis admire the horizon without any intention of selling it, the Gujaratis speculate on the moon instead of the scrips they should have sold, the North Indians dream of things other than Hindi as the official language of the United Nations, and even the Parsi ladies stop nagging their husbands."