For me it has to be Pani puri that tugs at those and it is as simple as that.
Things in the past are safely where they are now, but I remember a time I felt lost as a child, like a cut kite, floundering up in the sky! And it was Pani puri from a local chaatwala that sustained me. It was something that I looked forward to and gave me joy!
The memory apart, pani puri is simple and tasty and ushers in a whole lot of zest at one go. It is a crisp ball-sized puri, into which go fresh fillings of boiled and mashed potatoes and whole black gram dal, seasoned with chilli powder, salt, chat masala, finely chopped coriander, garam masala and a dash of raw mango powder. For flavour, green-chilli/mint chutney and dates/ tamarind chutney vie for attention. To unite all this, the filled puri is dipped in jaljira or panipuri water and just popped into the mouth whole. The trick lies in effectively combining all the flavours to get that one perfectly filled puri.
As the puri crumbles in your mouth, I swear one tends to close one’s eyes to savour. One is overwhelmed not just by an assortment of taste, all blending beautifully but also texture! The crispiness of the puri is a perfect foil for all its contents. The tangy water combines and brings out all its flavours; the sweetness of the dates chutney and the spiciness of the green chutney which gives the kick.
Happiness in that one moment, however fleeting it might be is enough to forget everything else! So when I pop one into my mouth now I am not just savouring but reliving!
I have always found the humble puri to be compliant holder for experiment. Whether it is for vodka with crushed ice, a dash of sugar syrup, a sliced green chilli and sprig of mint or just plain corn, with raw mango shreds, finely chopped onions, coriander, chilli and chat powder.
So pick up one and pop!