Phuchka - Kolkata’s Favourite Street Food
Image Credit: Puchka/ Instagram- hungry.soulmates

Phuchka is like a barrage of emotions for Bengalis. It is eaten with so much love, joy and pride. Every neighbourhood “para” has a puchkawala who is blessed with a steady stream of loyalists from the area. His fans swear by the crunchy puchkas and the secret masala mix. They gush over his tok jhol (sour water) which is customised to suit every preference. Broadly speaking, puchkas are the equivalent of golgappe in North India, pani puri in Mumbai and pani batasha in Uttar Pradesh but for an inhabitant of Kolkata, phuchka is much more nuanced than its counterparts elsewhere. 

Puchkas are fried shells filled with a mixture of mashed potato, boiled peas and kabuli chana and tamarind water that has spices, chillies and gondhoraj lebu or gondhoraj lime that traces its roots to West Bengal. It’s an elaborate recipe to reciprocate at home but a very rewarding one. So, when you have some time and wish to create magic with your hands, rustle up some phuchkas. Here’s how you need to go about it. 


(For the Phuchka Papri or Puri)

1. 200 gms atta

2. 100 gms suji (semolina)

3. ¼ tsp papad khar (alkaline salt)

4. ¼ tsp baking powder

5. 170 gms water 

6. Vegetable oil for frying

(For the Phuchka Water) 

1. 30 gms lime juice

2. 25 gms tamarind pulp

3. ¼ tsp bhaja moshla (roasted spice mix of cumin seeds, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, bay leaf and dry red chilli)

4. 3 gms blacksalt

5. 3 gms salt

6. 400 gms water

(For the Alu Filling)

1. 300 gms boiled potatoes

2. 4 gms salt

3. 4 gms bhaja moshla

4. 1 tsp chaat masala

5. ½ tsp coriander powder

6. 7 gms crushed green chillies

7. 10 gms coriander leaves

8. 50 gms of phuchka water

9. 30 gms boiled peas

10. 10 gms soaked chhola (chickpeas)

11. Onion chopped (optional)

Puchka/ Instagram- foodprolly

1. Phuchka Papri

2. Blend 200 grams of atta, 100 grams of sooji, ¼ tsp of papad khar, and ¼ tsp of baking powder. Papad khar is alkaline salt powder, a kind of food preservative which is easily available online.

3. Add 150–170 grams of room temperature water. Add more if necessary.

4. Since you require a stiff dough, keep kneading for five minutes. Wrap in a plastic wrap or place in an airtight bowl and keep it aside for one hour.

5. Divide the dough into quarters. 

6. Roll the dough into a thin log and cut it into small portions depending on the size you want for your papri. Make it 7 gms for a big papri and 5 grams for a small one.

7. This is an important step. Roll each tiny ball of dough between your palms until they are round and make sure that they have a smooth outer surface. If there are cracks on the surface now, your papris may not puff up after you roll them out and fry. 

8. Roll them out into discs ensuring uniform thickness. For a 7 gram of dough, — about 7 cm diameter is good.  There is no need to use any extra flour for dusting. 

9. Now, let them dry in a cool room for about two hours. Irrespective of time, make sure that the surface of the papris are dry but not stiff. Turn them over to another when one side is dry. 

10. Heat sufficient oil in a wok. Oil should be above 200ºC. Add a papri and press down with a perforated spoon. Within a few seconds it should puff and come up to the surface. Continue to fry it, basting it with hot oil or turning it over until it is brown. Take it out of the oil and place on a colander for steam to escape. 

11. Don’t put all the papris at once. Let one papri puff up before adding the next. The papris that don't fully puff can be used in making churmur or chaat.  

12.  As they won’t be very crispy immediately, it’s best to leave them out in the hot sun to dry and crisp up. You can also dry them in an oven at the lowest temperature setting. 

Tok Jhol

 1. Soak 25 grams of tamarind (pits removed) in warm water, mash it well with some water and extract the pulp.

2. Add 30 grams of lime juice or a mix of lime and gandharaj lime juice, 3 grams of black salt, 3 grams of regular table salt, ¼ teaspoon bhaja moshla and 400 grams of chilled water. You can also add some chopped coriander leaves. 

3. Adjust sourness and salt according to your needs. 

Potato filling 

1. Peel and mash 300 grams of boiled potatoes. Don't remove all the lumps. Use a medium starchy variety of potato. 

2. Season the potato with 4 grams of salt, 4 grams of bhaja moshla, 1 teaspoon of chaat masala, ½ teaspoon of coriander powder, 7 grams of crushed green chillies, 10 grams of coriander leaves, and about 50 grams of the tok jol and mix everything together. 

3. Add 30 grams of boiled yellow peas (motor) and 10 grams of soaked chickpeas. Mix well and serve. 

4. Ideal for an intimate get-together with family and friends who may just crown you as the best puchkawala in town.