Pani Puri if you google it (as we all do Google whenever in doubt of having an argument to settle) there are quite a few blogs and a wiki page talking about Pani Puri. They claim it had originated from Magadha region south of Bihar. there is no historic evidence to its support. There can be none to support all these so called claims.
Regions and attributes of Pani Puri. I will be providing a first-hand experience of pani puris from around the nation.
Let me tell you what exactly is a pani puri(let me slurp first). It consists of a puri (a sooji and maida bowl), filling(usually potato aka + anything that you love both hot and cold), and flavored water (with imli jeera or pudina, dhaniya (coriander and mint) or lemon or any other combinations).
Bengal and Bihar/Jharkhand
So let’s start this Puchka Journey.
As I’m from Bihar/Jharkhand (it doesn’t matter to most of the nation if I say Jharkhand). I have a great experience of both the spectrums of both panipuris the Bihar style and the Bengal style.
First the Bengal style
Puri is of Sooji and Maida deep fried so that it forms a ball like a shape(That is nearly consistent around the nation with very few exceptions). It doesn’t have any specific taste of its own all we want is that it doesn’t get soggy.
Masala consists of potato with black gram mashed is added with tamarind pulp and jeera rock salt and sea salt(aka Tata namak).
Here is the queen of them all the Pani. This is the biggest differentiator in all the pani puris. Tamarind pulp and Jeera and green chilly paste are the main ingredients with a slight difference from places to places(or should I say thela to thela). Once your course of phuckas is completed one usually savors aloo katta or churmur at the phuckawalas.
Now, let’s jump to Patna and its neighboring places in Bihar. It is quite fondly called the Gup Chup.
Puri is the same
Masala has a taste twist. Ohh yes!!! Here it is Aloo black gram added with Onions and kala namak.
Pani here is pretty much similar as Bengal. Most of the Occasions. And so it our beloved churmur.
Now to South of Uttar Pradesh
Up until Banaras it can be still called Puchka or at Gol Gappa or Pani Puri.
It is quite similar to the Bengal region. In most of the cases.
The movement you leave Banaras and reach Allahabad the name and flavors take a complete turnaround.
It Has the same Puri.
Masala consists of Potato and black gram with Dhania Patta and green chilly paste and black salt.
Pani takes a huge divergent turn. Its Dhaniya and Phoodina (mint) pulp with black salt and lemon juice. It is quite the pleasing sense. Some people add black pepper too.(Taste varies from khomcha to khomcha)
After Allahabad, only the name changes to Pani ke Batashe/Patashe up until Haryana and Special Note to the People of Aligarh Padaka.
As we have gone quite far up let’s move towards Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and Orissa. It’s usually called puchka in Orissa and Tikki in small parts of MP and Chattisgarh. Rest pani puri is quite common.
Puri is exactly the same but in some regions of West MP, you might find and elongated version of the puri.(it resembles an egg).
Masala has all the traditional ingredients potato, black gram and pepper, dhania, jeera and black salt powder added to it.
Pani it’s interesting in Bhilai here it as for the first time I tasted the Khatta aam panna added to the paani poori. But sadly that is just for the summers. They have a predominantly Dhania, lemon and green chilly based water with a season input of pudina. The culinary specialists of Indore add boondi to the water.(Boondi id just for the decor it doesn’t add to the taste much).
Dilli or Delhi
Dilli (Dehli) as the capital of the nation. Pani Puri aka Gol Gappe. Yes, it sounds so yummy.
Puri here and only here at dilli, we have the options of two types of puris everywhere.
One of sooji and maida and the other kind is only sooji (The reason for only sooji Puri is higher water holding capacity and its kind of thick too).
Masala is quite the norm in here it has potato and black gram(rahis chole bhi daal lete hai), with rest the same jeera, dhania, back and sea salt, red chilly powder in powdered form.
Paani the most common pani is of Dhaniya and phoodina in equal parts with chilly paste and lemon. (The water is extracted or filtered so no gushy mushy particles enter you mouth.)
In Nepal, it is called Phulki. (Unluckily I have never been able to travel to Nepal).
Mumbai and Maharashtra
Maharashtra aka Bombay style Pani Puri.
Puri at Mumbai just like Dilli yet people mostly prefer the maida sooji combo.
Masala has a twist here with respect to all other Masalas out there. It’s hot gravy of white peas and potato(yes potato is there in your ragda).
Pani is quite the cold or sometimes a bit icy (to compensate for the hot ragda). It is quite a mix bag here it has pudina and dhaniya with jeera, ginger and lemon with rock salt and sea salt.
Gujarat it is called Pakodi at some of the places and Pani Poori is more often used words.
Puri is similar to the rest of the nation maida and sooji in a spherical shape.
Masala has aloo and black peas with black salt, coriander, jeera, and sea salt combo. Still one can easily find the odd Ragda seller like Maharashtra.
Paani Here we have the same the dhaniya and lemon water with a bit twist of taste with added jeera and black pepper.(Except the paani puri we all love to indulge in our sweet tooth).
As the Mumbai’s influence is increasing in Gujarat so is the availability of Ragda.
Rest Of India
Last recognised destination for Pani puri lovers Andhra Pradesh (Telangana region especially) and parts of Orissa.
Puri is the same as rest of the nation.
Masala has more of potato and it usually devoid of the common black gram. Sometimes adds onions to it.
Pani it has more of tamarind and jeera based and it has that special tangy zest to it. The best part is it has an amazing touch of local rassam.(my personal self felt like that)
Anywhere in the nation if you feel pani puri is too hot for you to handle the there is always an option of “Bhaiya meetha pani mein dijiye“.
Rest Karnataka and Tamil Nadu with its local vendors please don’t keep any expectations at all. As per “Our beloved North East” we have a decent paani puri upto Agartala.Most parts of NE it has a bengali Pani Puri taste to it.