Why you should never try panipuri in Bengaluru

When you are in the southern parts of India on a mini-vacation, do not experiment with your taste buds by feeding on quintessentially North Indian cuisine. “What on earth is this? I had placed an order for panipuri for heavens sake, please get this changed… someone”, panicked a little voice inside my head, half hoping that the guy was sincerely mistaken. Sadly, he wasn’t.

This was the famous Bengaluru panipuri served without any pani, as I realised to my absolute horror one evening in Bengaluru. Only partially puffed because someone was in a hurry, the puris stuffed with boiled green peas were accompanied by some lentil curry instead along with a cup of some strange liquid concoction. The thing not only was overpriced at Rs. 17 but it also caused a permanent damage to my taste buds. Welcome to Bengaluru panipuri!

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Image courtesy: Wikipedia

Panipuris, also called lovingly as puchkas or golgappas in the eastern parts of India are pure heaven to the discerning foodie. A burst of gustatory delight when puris stuffed with a mixture of mashed potatoes, raw onions, boiled moong dal, boondi, curd and what have you are washed down with the juices of tangy tamarinds blended with some hot spices and salt. In one word, it’s ‘awesomelicious’. You have to pop one to experience the burst of flavours in your mouth. But, not in Bengaluru, I warn you!

Every state of India has its own version but these are prepared within the rules of the divine recipe. But, some Bengaluru hooligans have broken these to serve you corrupted versions in your naive exploration of authentic panipuris in the southern city. For sake of the babus, please understand that curries are not part of snacks; curries are meant to be had with rice! These guys cannot and should not mess up with the recipe, else they should be punished with a lifetime ban on their eatery and be force-fed that gooey thing all their life. And that’s fair enough.

For starters, the puri has to be super puffed mind you. Oval, flat puris are not meant to be put into the mouth; they are best used as flying discs. And please, don’t make mini-UFOs out of them. The mixture however can vary but strictly between potatoes, chickpeas, moong dal and other edible stuff. You are allowed to use salt, jaggery, black salt, spices, as per your taste preferences and not ingredients meant for a full meal. Remember panipuri is an easy snack meant to be light on your tummy while lightening up your senses.

Having learnt survivals skills in Mumbai, I was no stranger to the variety of panipuris lining the streets of this hungry city. Sometimes the puris were stuffed with a mixture of only mashed potatoes but at times the potatoes found company of moong dal and boondi as well. The pani is sometimes made with mint leaves if not tamarind. But, not even once did I come across a lentil curry-puri; the South Indian eateries in Mumbai would also hang their head in shame.

In fact, another friend was horrified to see curry leaves floating in his pani in another part of Bengaluru!

About being the wife and little else…

It was the deciding moment in my life four years back. I had rehashed the most useful template in my entire professional life of 8 years – the resignation template and presented it to the manager. I was freed the very next moment and remember walking away crooning Queen’s ‘I want to break free’. The manager, who should be severely reclassified in the ‘Invertebrata’ family, did however butt in with free gyaan but somewhere we both realised it was late – just too late.

It wasn’t about the analyst function anymore nor was it about glass ceilings, favouritism or other office shenanigans. I just wanted to feed my heart, listen to my own song; I wanted to explore me!

I had to start early in life – started at seventeen as a field researcher with a marketing and research group, then followed pretty much anything that came my way from writing certificates in calligraphy to painting t-shirts to writing term assignments for classmates. Then took the roller coaster ride on my way to career and self fulfilment.

Alas! A series of roles  – faculty, database administrator, data analyst, quality analyst, trainer, etc. etc. but nothing that touched within, nothing at all that I would carry a piece of when I transcend. And that’s how I found myself at the edge of the cliff four years ago.

looking beyond
Image courtesy: modernlifeblogs

Today even after four years of exploration, I’ve barely scratched the surface but I do know that I can design handicrafts, logos, brochures and wedding cards. It was an unknown path but the deeper I walked in, the familiar it became and the more I wanted to waltz around. Now it is the most delightful road to be on – one that smells of familiar flowers, one where I soak in the rich journey, without a care to where I’m headed!

Though it’s strange how I travelled in search of me and found happiness instead. A good measure of true happiness for me is the ones who are happy because of you. And we can only spread happiness when we are happy inside. And we are happy when we find ourselves. So I guess its a vicious pursuit every life we lead.

But then there is an external world – a society that attaches happiness to degrees, cars and promotions. A society that is constantly wanting to make you feel small and insignificant. A society that is defined by clout and gender inequalities. Perhaps, this is going towards the scale of melodrama now, but this is how it is.

These days I hardly get to design. But I’m filling up my days with blogging and reading up every little thing to keep myself updated. Remember I write a blog along with my hubby and this keeps us occupied 24×7. There’s never a dull moment for me as I love writing and to juggle it with cleaning, cooking, sorting and other chores in a regular day, is actually testing my multitasking abilities to the core.

It’s beyond my comprehension how the human brain reconfigures itself to learning new tasks and creating new patterns of thought for a specific task. It’s like you get into something that looks uncomfortable and soon it becomes your second skin. It’s almost magical. Thinking was never so much fun!

But…I’m the wife at the end of it all and not the co-founder – at least that’s how the majority thinks! I do a fair amount of brainstorming to generate new ideas. I think as our readers do and help improve upon the design aspect. I do a lot of research as one cannot create content unless stimulated enough, unless passionate enough or better still unless she is on the wings of fire!

But when I write an article, the hubby gets all the accolades for it – he is the face of the blog after all. Though he goes out all the way to clarify but one cannot blame the world for thinking it’s a one-man show. There is a certain lady – a sharp, intelligent, business-savvy one, who is very impressed with our content and confesses to spending a few hours reading us at a stretch. She knows about the two of us. But interestingly, I do not exist for her. All her feedback and suggestions are always addressed to the Founder.

I used to attend events along with him but I’ve stopped those now. It’s like daddy has brought his little darling to office and everyone in the department wants to greet her. Of course! I’m to be blamed. I had introduced myself as ‘Wife’ and then ‘Co-Founder’, because in my mind I was only playing the supporting actor role to help my hubby – the Hero! The blog is his dream; he has spent the whole of last year writing articles every day along with his day job. I’ve come to terms with this and strangely am finding my place in his dream. When I look back to connect the dots, I see everything that I ever learned to do is now finding its rightful purpose. Much like the random, meaningless pieces of a puzzle that align themselves to finally give meaning to it. So never mind the external identity crisis as long as I am in search of ‘me’!

“It is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfillment, it is in the happiness of pursuit.” ~ Denis Waitley.