From street-side stalls to restaurant tables, this snack has not just made its way to professional menus but has also caught the fancy of modern chefs, who are playing with it and making their gourmand guests happy.
It seems like a regular, chirpy evening. The bylanes are crowded. Office goers have returned home and children have all stepped out to play. Street-food vendors have set up their kiosks and are expecting a rush soon.
Of all the makeshift street-food shops, the one that has the maximum crowd is that selling golgappas (wheat or semolina balls with a stuffing dunked in flavoured water). The snack is enjoyed by all age groups, unlike some other popular street-snacks that are popular only amongst kids or teenagers.
Available pan India, often with only slight variations but different names such as puchka (West Bengal), pani-puri (Maharashtra), gup-chup (Odisha), pani-ke-patashe (Uttar Pradesh), golgappas are conventionally stuffed with boiled potatoes, chickpeas, onions (sometimes), sweet or spicy sauces before they are dunked in flavoured water.
Unconventionally, however, and as an experiment with this all-time-favourite street-food, golgappas are now available in varieties, that are unlike anything Indians have been eating earlier.
Not just creative, these versions are also a fun take on the traditional snack. Here are some of the more popular ones.
Golgappas stuffed with vodka and not flavoured water are perhaps the leaders of the line of gourmet golgappas. A buzz in five-star hotels during the nineties, they are now available in chic-cafes in most cities in India. Some even have minty versions of them, keeping the real flavours intact in this heady fusion.
A sweet spin on the spicy snack, this fusion of golgappas is a heavy dose of chocolate. Every golgappa is coated in chocolate, stuffed with chocolate (alongside walnuts) and dunked in chocolate (liquid or milkshake). There are also versions served with cream on top and dunked in mint, strawberry or vanilla flavoured shakes or creams.
With pizza sauce, grated cheese, and seasonings thrown into the golgappas, which are then baked to perfection, margarita golgappas are the one of the newest on the menu, and all the rage for all the right reasons!
Butter chicken golgappas
Butter chicken is arguably one of the most popular non-vegetarian dishes in northern India. A curry of tomatoes thickened with cream and punched up with butter and spices, it is loved for its rich flavour and texture. Grilled or boiled chicken is added into the gravy and butter chicken is enjoyed with bread. Modern chefs have taken the dish and thrown it into golgappas, eliminating the bread out of the picture and giving butter chicken lovers a new way to relish!
Mango, pomegranate or pineapple- one can have their pick of the stuffing that goes into the golgappa and dunk it into sour imli (tamarind) juice or refreshing mint water to enjoy this fresh take on the snack.
Not just these, plum chilli sauce golgappas, sprout golgappas, paneer makhani golgappas and even caviar golgappas are on the menus at various cafes and restaurants, where this street-side snack, which is usually enjoyed in crowded streets and without a formal seating, is presented in imaginative and fashionable ways.