Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Drool-worthy Gol Gappe.....

Nothing exemplifies Indian street food as well as "Gol-Gappe"....the bite sized crispy balls of flour or semolina, filled with seasoned potato-chickpea mixture and dipped in a spicy green mint sauce as well as a sweet and savory tamarind chutney - the quintessential fun food at all the street side "melas" back home. Just thinking about them is making me drool....

My mom and I went out without fail, once every month for our Gol-Gappe trip. The day my dad brought in his salary and gave us all our "pocket money",  mommy managed to wheedle out a little extra from daddy.  With that money, my brother got an ice cream, and my mom and I got our monthly fix of the spicy goodness.  All my dad's warnings about the Chaat wala's dirty hands  and his unsanitary matki didn't deter us.  We ate out of this fellow's grimy hands every month, and never fell sick.  And yet one time, the only time that we could drag our dad to this fellow; we all ended up with severe diarrhea :-))

After that day, my finicky dad determined to learn how to make Gol-Gappe at home so we could eat them without going to the Chaat wala. He had a couple of restauranteur friends -   I suspect he got his instructions from them.  But the next month, when we wanted that extra money, he set mom to work- under his supervision, of course - making Gol-Gappe. Thankfully, my mom was a pretty good home cook; good enough to turn out fairly good Gol-Gappe - DESPITE my dad's instructions!!

     Knowing how to make the Gol-Gappe came in handy here in the USA where satisfying the Chaat tooth is not as easy as it were in India! I made them a couple of times before the girls were born. But recently, they have become much easier to find around Indian grocery stores. I still like the small Sooji ke Gol Gappe better than the large ones made of atta that is found in the stores though, so occasionally I indulge myself and make them at home. I haven't done this in a while, and am craving them right now; so thought I'd at least share up the recipe to ease those cravings!!

Gol Gappe

For the Pooris (Sooji ke gol gappe):
Atta/ whole wheat flour 1 measure
Sooji/Semolina flour 1/3 measure
A generous pinch of salt
Oil 2 Tbsp
Water to knead the flour- as needed
Oil to deep fry.

For the filling:
Boiled potatoes 1 medium sized, mashed
Boiled/canned chickpeas
2 Green chillies- finely chopped (optional)
Cilantro chopped
Chaat masala (store bought)
Salt to taste

Sweet & sour Tamarind chutney
Or Maggi Tamarina sauce (store bought)

For the Paani:
A fistful of fresh mint leaves
2-3 green chillies
Paani -puri masala (store bought)
Juice of 1 lemon
Water 1-1/2 cups
Raite ki boondi (a little - optional)

Making the Pooris:

  1. Mix in the atta and sooji together with salt and oil till the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Using a Tbsp of water at a time, knead into a pliable, non-sticky dough. Knead for a few minutes, then cover with a wet towel and set it aside for a 10-15 minutes.
  2. Take a golf sized ball of dough, and roll it into a circle (or any shape you can :-)) about 1mm thick.
  3. Using a 2 inch cookie cutter (I actually use the top of an glass bottle I have), cut out the circles.
  4. Pick them up and keep covered with the wet paper towel. Scoop up the remaining dough, and repeat the process till all the dough is used up. And you have lots of little Pooris under the paper towel. 
  5. Heat up the oil, and deep fry these pooris in hot oil so they're all puffed up. If the oil is hot enough, it doesn't take too long and you don't have to flip them over.

Making the stuffing:
  1. Mash the potatoes and chickpeas (slightly). 
  2. Mix in everything else.
I also mix in the tamarind chutney in the stuffing...saves me the trouble of serving it on the side.

Making the Paani:
  1. Grind the mint, green chillies, salt and lemon juice with a little bit of water into a fine paste.
  2. Add the rest of the water, Paani puri masala, and boondi.
  3. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then refrigerate till cold.
  4. Float a few leaves of cilantro for additional flavor.

To serve: 
  If you were with a chat wala in Delhi, you'd begin by answering the question: "Atte ke ya Sooji ke?" (Pooris made of whole wheat flour or semolina?)
  Then the guy would expertly poke a home in your choice of Poori and stuff a generous amount of stuffing in there.
  While he did this, he'd ask you to ponder over "Saunth ya Khutti chutney?" (Tamamrind chutney or tangy chutney)
  He'd dip the Pooris into your choice of chutney, followed by filling the Gol Gappe upto the brim with mint and cilantro Paani before handing them to you. 
  And then you exercised your jaw by opening your mouth wide open and popping the whole thing into your mouth without spilling or breaking anything.....and be transported into a world of indescribable satisfaction......

My two cents: Even though not every month, Mom and I still kept our trip to the Chaat wala ritual alive.  And on my last trip to India with her, we found that even my then 6yr old, America-born Anya had the same Indian taste buds when it came to Gol-Gappe.  She ate away with an enthusiasm that I hadn't expected- watery eyes, runny nose and all....

I do away with the chaat wala's niceties here- the kids don't eat that much spice anyways. My tamarind chutney is already mixed into the stuffing, and I serve the Gol-gappes filled with a tiny amount of Paani (for Anya) or yogurt (for baby P). 

Does seem like too much work when you can buy them in stores....but then I haven't seen the Sooji ke Gol Gappe in any store around here. Plus I can actually make them a size that fits into the little mouths that I have to feed- give them a taste of real India that I miss. Very much worth the extra effort!! The only troublesome part is the "hole" process- poking a hole in the Pooris, without going all the way through....:-))

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