PANI PURI(पानीपूरी)and other notes on FOOD
I ate LOTS of street food today. let the games begin. (in my stomach)
I lived in China for ten months and Taiwan for 2—one year total and had zero stomach problems. I mean maybe once or twice things were a little abnormal and I think I had one incident where I threw up, but I never had anything that I would call food poisoning—unlike many of my friends. Ariana, my baby girl for life who I basically spent the entirety of my second semester with (7 hours of Mandarin a day in a class of 3 people lol—-AND we shared an apartment/walked 20 minutes to and from school everyday together) ANYWAY—she got SUPER sick and ended up losing like what? 15 pounds? something outrageous—in a matter of two weeks. And she was frequently ill our second semester as well. I, on the other hand, took some mental health days and developed quite the cold in the winter, but never had stomach issues.
So, anyway. I wasn’t that worried about getting sick here, but I’ve been playing it safe and I know I certainly could get sick. During orientation, we were told to ease our stomachs into Indian food and I have basically obeyed this rule….until today. I mean, I already eat Indian food everyday for lunch, but I try not to go too crazy. And street food is an entirely different story. At school I try to bring my own Indian lunch, but it’s never as good as my coworkers’. Furthermore, as a teacher, I can get the government subsidized school lunch for free. It’s usually rice and some sort of curry or red beans. It’s simple, but good. And if I don’t take that, my co-teachers always STUFF me with their food. It’s mostly delicious—except for this one thing I had once that was some sort of white curd/yogurt rice. I think it was fermented or the yogurt had gone bad because I SWEAR it tasted like white-out. blagh. But everything else is great. Stuffed paratha, chapatis, curries, potato stuff, eggplant yumminess, and tons of other things I don’t know the names of. Even though I like everything, sometimes I’m just not that hungry, but there is literally no way to politely decline food. (At least I haven’t found a way.) Some suggestions from past fulbrighters were to feign an allergy to something—but then you have to remain constant with that “allergy”. The other suggestion is to claim to be “fasting” some item in that dish. “Sorry, I’m fasting potatoes.” Apparently, no questions are asked after one claims to be fasting something. I haven’t done this because a) I don’t really want to lie to them and b) I don’t think they’d buy it anyways! And so I decline. decline. decline. And then finally just give in and have “a taste.” I know they are being sweet and polite, but sometimes I think I’m going to EXPLODE and I am NOT trying to gain weight while I live here, but at this rate…haha.
In other news, I have yet ANOTHER 3 day weekend! What??? Yeah. Well, I didn’t have class on Monday for Krishna’s bday and I don’t have class tomorrow because it’s the last friday of Ramadan! Making this week a 3 day school week. WOOH! In light of this fact, I decided to eat street food. My logic: If I do get sick, I have three full days to recover! So on my commute home from school, I ate things that I haven’t had the courage to eat yet (but have wanted to.)
Straight out of the metro, I had this thing—not sure what it’s called—but it was spicyyyyyy and served hot. It had chickpeas, spicy broth, minced onions, chaat…..and on top was crushed puri (fried unleven bread/cracker thing.) It was very tasty. Now, when I order these things—since I don’t speak Hindi—I just walk up, stand there, smile, and nod my head. Then one of two things happen. Either they give me the dish straight away or they ask me something in Hindi. When that happens, I just nod again and usually it works out. Since I look Indian, I usually get the right price—that is, unless I’ve been talking too much and they realize from my accent that I’m foreign. By the end of these exchanges—the merchant (whether its the milk seller, fruit seller, veggie dude, grocer, etc) either think I’m a REALLY slow/mute Indian or that I’m just a goofy foreigner lady. Either way, I seriously wonder what kind of impression I’m leaving on these people.
So I chowed down for about a minute with some dude next to me for 10 ruppees (25 cents) and went on my merry way with my mouth burning. About 2 minutes later and around the corner, I came across two more vendors. Since my mouth was burning, I decided to finally find out what the dude with the limes was selling. I assumed it was some sort of refreshing lime soda. WRONG. it was—-the juice of two limes—-water (highly questionable water) and a grainy tan substance (which I assumed was sugar. WRONG.) When it was finished I took a sip. It tasted like…….salty limey chicken water. Don’t ask. It just tasted very savory. The whole time I was thinking—just thicken this up and you’ve got a nice lime chicken glaze. The tan grainy substance was in fact salt and other spices. It wasn’t TERRIBLE, but it was not what I was expecting. And to be clear, I was expecting a cold, limey, carbonated, sweet drink. So I chugged it down because the man was staring at me and I didn’t want to be rude. I headed home and rested for an hourish and then hit Malviya Nagar market to get some clothes and have a sari blouse stitched at the tailors. I bought three new Kortas and two dupata/pants set. (I need to do a clothes blog post soon!!!) I don’t really need clothes, but I DO need clothes that I can wear in school. I can’t wear anything that I brought from America. I have to wear Indian suits. I don’t mind though. They’re comfortable and take way less effort. Throw on a bright colored top and neutral colored salwars and a dupata (pants and scarf) and you’re good to go!
At Malviya Nagar market, I finally ate what I’ve been wanting to try. PANI PURI. (what this post was supposed to be mainly about). All I had heard was that it was really good, but I have to say that the description sounded strange. I had heard that pani puri was a hollow crispy shell that had a hole poked in the top. Upon ordering it is filled with “Spicy water” among other things. Then you stuff the thing in your mouth before it gets soggy. Sounds kinda weird right? Especially the spicy water part. So I did my usual routine. I mosied up to the place that appeared to have pani puri. The man immediately handed me a plate. I stood there and looked at the people next to me as he grabbed the hollow shell—the puri. He ladled some greenish liquid with some other stuff in it and put it in the shell and then placed it on my foil plate. I then stuffed it in my mouth! haha. It was a bit messy, but surprisingly DELICIOUS! read all about how it’s made and eaten on Wikipedia!!! My mouth is watering just thinking about it! The combination was awesome. Hot crunchy puri, and then a sour/spicy broth with bits of potatoes, onions, chickpeas, and something slightly sweet exploding in your mouth. mmmm. The broth was in a giant metal cauldron with huge blocks of ice to keep it cold. It’s been hours since I ate it and still no signs of sickness (the hugest risk is with the water that is usually from the tap). I have a stomach of STEEL, baby. RAWR.
No school tomorrow! But yoga at 5:30am…if I wake up. It’s two steps outside of my apartment and FREE so I feel like I have to go! However, it’s already 11pm and I’m watching High School Musical 2 on TV and I want to finish it! ha.
sorry for an insanely long post, but I know at least my mom will read this in full ;) Hi, mom!
Ps-I didn’t have my camera on me at the time so these are not my photos. I took them from HERE.