What is a 'tiffin'?, and gol-gappas:)

Paani puri

Having been lucky enough to travel all over the Country during my childhood, I had the unique opportunity to get exposed to, treated to and appreciate local dishes from many States in their most genuine or rustic forms. My favorite category of food in all my culinary adventures till date has always been 'tiffin' because of the ease, taste, variety and flexibility it offers.

Tiffin is a term used in India (I have never heard of it used in any other part of the world! Have you?) to indicate light meals or snacks. Indians as a rule always stressed on three hearty, full meals a day and were exposed to the idea of mid-day meals, evening snacks and high-tea only after the arrival of British in India. As far as my knowledge goes and from what I collect from my elders, and from Wikipedia too, we never had terms such as brunch or supper, we only had breakfast, lunch and dinner. Later when we did borrow the idea of having something light in between the main meals, we started calling it 'tiffin'.

I remember that neighbours having an early morning chat over the fence in the backyard, would definitely have one sentence - "Enna tiffin di inniki?" ("What's for tiffin today?") - conversation at this time of the day using 'tiffin' usually indicated a light breakfast.

As a kid who always chomped into her lunch in between classes and hardly had any left for short break my mid-morning question on meeting my sister during break in school would be - "Onkitta tiffin michhum irrukka?" ("Do you have any tiffin left?"), and on returning home at 4' O'Clock in the evening, my first question to my Mom would be - "Tiffin enna?" ("What's for tiffin?"). Makes me a glutton? He he....no, in modern sophisticated euphemistic terms, I was just a kid with a high BMR - see;)?

Slowly, 'tiffin' assumed extraordinary importance and grew into what we know these days as 'fast-food' - incidentally, it is also a great way to make a fast buck!

All that gyan eventually brings us to the post for today - paani puri! Paani-puri is not something I like preparing at home - why go through the trouble when I have the finest bhaiyyaji selling the tastiest possible, hygienic and homemade paani-puris so close to my place? Aah... such bliss does not last forever, especially, when you have one kid who will not eat just because the paani is thikka (hot as in spicy - it is not but then, like the boss is always right in office, the kid is always right at home), and another who wants to have her own paani-puris when she gets back from school!

Gol-gappe or Paani-puri from this Lazy Mom's handbook:). If you have the chutneys, and the chhole ready, this one is a breeze!

Readymade puris (these usually have less oil that the fresh fried ones hence preferred) - 1 packet (contains about 40 to 50 puris)
Teekha paani (Spicy Minty Solution) - About 1 cup
(This is my regular green chutney, and I stash away this in humongous amounts as it gets used up pretty fast, and is a versatile sauce, sandwich saver and great falvoring agent)
Meetha paani (Sweet solution) - About 1/2 cup
(Tamarind and date chutney - recipe follows)
Boiled Chhole / Moong bean / Boondis - About 3 cups.
(Recipe follows)

Recipe for Teekha Paani / Spicy Minty Solution: Follow the recipe for mint chutney. Use about 5 tbsps.

Recipe for Meetha Paani / Tamarind Date Chutney:


Tamarind Extract - About 2 cups
Dates - 5 (Depends on the level of sweetness of the variety used and your taste buds - you could use jaggery or raisins instead or even brown sugar but I prefer dates)
Kala Namak - About 1/4 tsp.
A tsp. of roasted to black and powdered - Jeera/Cumin seeds.
Salt - A pinch to taste, remember that we are using black salt too!


Boil the entire concoction, mash well till smooth and filter through a soup strainer. Boil the resultant liquid till thick as a custard (Should coat your spoon when stirred and lifted). You can refrigerate this concentrate in a bottle. Dilute and use as required.

Boiled chhole/chickpeas:

For paani-puris, we require chickpeas without any fuss or masala. It is quite simple. Roughly mash the cooked chickpeas with the back of a spoon so that you have a tbsp. of mashed chhole and the rest are whole. Mix it up with a pinch of turmeric, salt to taste, and add very little water - about 1/4 cup. Boil and set aside.

Chhole for paani puri

Paani-puri paani!

Mix of Teekha paani (Spicy Minty Solution) and Meetha paani (Sweet solution). Add 2 cups of water. Heat till the water boils. Taste and adjust spices as required. I am afraid it is very difficult to say how spicy the water would be because it depends on too many things. You have to go by feel and increase the level of tang by squeezing in half a lime, the sweetness by adding jaggery or sugar or date syrup, the salt or the red chilly powder as per your taste. Refrigerate and remove only at the time of serving.

Green Chutney

Tap a puri to make a small hole, about a cm. large. Put a tbsp. of boiled chhole. The chhole should be piping hot. Dip inside the paani and serve one at a time to the person. The puris should be eaten whole. The paani should be cold. Mine is not too spicy, but many prefer a really hot variety which you can achieve by adding more chillies to your green chutney or more red chilly powder to your diluted paani.

Its not much fun assembling and eating on your own. I prefer serving one at a time to my kids or husband, and my daughter or husband serve me. This way it is thoroughly satisfying!


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The paani puri is off to FIC-Yellow hosted by me, as the puris are bright and warm yellow, and so are the chickpeas.

These are also going off to JFI - Chickpeas. JFI is an event which celebrates an ingredient a month - Conceptualised by Indira of Mahanandi and guest hosted by MS of Sometime Foodie. I hope the simple paani-puri ka chhole is well received.

Yikes! Sorry, Valli! My chickpeas with paani-puri also attend The Seventh Helping of MLLA (My Legume Love Affair), started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook and guest hosted by dear Srivalli of Cooking 4 All Seasons!

Warning: This one is light but remember we have chickpeas here. You better remember that too much can be gassy!! On that light note bon appetit:)!!

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