Priya Puchkawalas!

If you visit Kolkata, Puchka is a snack that you must try! Originating from the city of Joy, this easy to make snack is a popular choice all across the country! The dish has also earned many different names. While the Delhites like to call it Gol Gappa, in Mumbai they’re known as Pani Puris. The dish is popularly known as Pani ke patashe is parts of Haryana and as Gup Chup in parts of Odisha, South Jharkhand, Hyderabad, and Telangana. With the variations in the name, the flavors also marginally vary across all cities. None, I repeat, none can taste as good as the Puchkas of Kolkata! The city’s puchkawalas have mastered the art of preparing the delectable dish! The fame and popularity of the snack has also found it’s way to the menus of many leading restaurants!

The streets and lanes of Kolkata are dotted with age-old puchkawalas and I have fond memories of visiting three specific such puchkawalas. Going back to my childhood, I remembering visiting the puchkawala at the Poddar Court crossing with cousins, mama (paternal uncle) and my sister. While my sister enjoyed her puchkas with the tangy water, I would opt for puchkas without water simply because managing the puchka with the water was a task difficult to manage for my little fingers! My cousin would enjoy his puchkas with sour and sweet variants of the water.

I remember the puchkawalas glass container with blue wooden rims and a bulb inside to aid visibility. Wooden stools would be neatly arranged around his settlement for the foodies to make themselves comfortable.

Waiting for my turn, my mouth watered as the appetizing aroma of the tangy water and the filling wafted in the air around. I couldn’t wait to relish the puchka. Soon, the first puchka was served in the patta, a container made using dry leaves. As I took the first bite, the burst of flavors made me smile with joy! My mouth waters even at the thought!

Next up, I remember visiting the puchkawala on B.B. Ganguly Street. Right next to the lamp post, on the pavement he would set up the dala, a stand to contain utensils and the puchkas. The dalas are interesting! All the puchkas, several odd vessels and all the ingredients find a place on the dala.

Balancing the dala on his head with a red cloth bag around his arm and the wooden stand on his shoulder, the puchkawala would arrive at the spot in the evening at around 5pm. Catering largely to the office crowd around, a lot of families would also frequently visit him – including ours!

Less spicy and smaller puchkas used to be my first instruction! He would meticulously prepare the masala with potatoes, black chickpeas, spices and lemon juice. Finally he filled the puchkas with the tangy water made using pudina, dhania, imli and spices! That made the puchkas all the more hard to resist! 3 puchkas for Rs. 5, I would always go for 6 at a go to satiate the cravings, sometimes even 15! You simply can’t just have one! The puchkawala knew about our preferences well and would always make the puchkas accordingly.

Image - Puchkawala - Kolkata - Hawkers
Pic Courtesy – Google

Last but not the least, I relish the puchkas that are served at Triangular Park, Chakraberia. Few years ago, I gave up eating onion, garlic and potatoes. This could’ve meant no more puchkas for me but thankfully puchkawalas like Anil exist! At Chakraberia, you will always find a flock of people enjoying puchkas at his stall to their heart’s content. He serves also Jain puchkas. (Without potatoes) Yes, and they’re delicious! The filling is made using cholas and chickpeas instead of potato. I have time and again visited his stall for puchka treats!

For turning the monotonous evenings into a happy occasions, for turning the chats with my buddies into fond memories, for adding a flavor of joy, I can’t thank our Priya Puchkawalas (beloved puchkawalas) enough! 🙂

Featured image pic courtesy – Flickr

You can read all of my previous posts for the #BlogchatterA2Z Challenge at –

  1. Amidst the City of Chaos his World Exists
  2. Belly of Bertram Street
  3. Connoisseur of Flavors Around the Corner
  4. Dainty Dealers
  5. Evening Feasts
  6. Full of Life at 89!
  7. Gleefully at Work
  8. Hoichoi of Gariahat
  9. Ink of Love
  10. Jolly and Jovial at Chowringhee
  11. Kolkata’s Answer to Parched Lips
  12. Larger than Life
  13. Mishti Makers of Kolkata
  14. Navigating Life’s Journey
  15. Against all Odds

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