Lindsay Street Phuchkas at Goa... Park Hyatt

Whenever I think of Goa, which is very often, I think of the pork chilly fry of Infantaria, the prawn baffad of Brittos , the water buffalo baguette of Lila Cafe, and the mussels chilly fry of Love Shack.

Phuchkas, from the streets of Kolkata, definitely don't feature here.

Phuchkas are first cousins twice removed of Delhi's golgappas and Mumbai's paanipuris. What makes phuchkas different is that these are stuffed with mashed potatoes unlike boondi (tiny, hollow gram flour paste balls), tomato, sprouted moong or onion which are stuffed into its cousins. And the water in phuchkas is hot and sour (tamarind based) and doesn't have the sweet chutney which the other versions have.

My favourite phuchka seller is the guy at Lindsay street at Kolkata, near New Empire Cinema and New Market. What makes his phuchkas distinctive is the hint of pudina that he puts in his tamarind water which forms a lovely cooling relief to the sour spice of the regular chilly powder doused tamarind water.

So how did I get Lindsay Street phuchkas in a five star in South Goa at the other end of the country?

We stayed at the Park Hyatt, Goa this weekend for a long aspired to South Goa monsoon luxury holiday after dipping into my pension.

Well, the Park Hyatt had quite a good buffet spread. It was quite different from the insipid, faceless fare in usual five star meal packages.

They had a live counter at night where they served lovely Goan prawn chilly fries the first night. The next night they had a vegetable kathi roll counter which we ran away from.

That's when I went to the chaat counter. They had everything - paapri chaat, daahi chaat, paanipuri and what have you. But my eyes lit up when I saw the ingredients. I saw the paani puri shells, same as phuchkas. I saw spiced mashed potato. I saw chopped green chillies. I saw regular sour water (khatta paani) of chaats made with tamarind water, chilly powder AND pudina like the Lindsay Street guy!!!!

I walked up to the counter and told them to put a bit of mashed potatoes and green chillies in the phuchka shells and to give them to me with a bowl of the tamarind and mint water.

I dunked the stuffed phuchkas into the tamarind water and took a bite. And I reached busy New Market in Calcutta in two seconds.

The phuchkas tasted perfect - crisp, spicy, sour, cool. You took a bite into the delicate flour shell and the heady mix of cherubic mashed potato, flirtatious sour and minty water and devilish green chillies just poured into your mouth and said, "hello old friend".

I had about ten phuchkas. Interspersed between succulent grilled chicken, lovely lamb vindaloo and some excellent rabri for dessert.

As they say, you can take the Bengali out of Calcutta but you can't take phuchka out of the Bengali!

More on the Park Hyatt buffet, and why it was different from the standard hotel package fare, later...


Reshma said…
Thanks for keeping us salivating :(
Jokes apart, you have such a flair for writing about food, I love your blog, now I am a regular here :)
Pinku said…

thats all i can say...
Manasi said…
Don't Bengalis have the meetha chutney? Us Maharashtrians will add enough gur/khajoor chutney in there to qualify it as dessert :)
Anonymous said…
so well said about the bengali. you just cannot take the puchka out of the bengali. my favourite puchka wallah is also at new market and i'm pretty sure we're talking about the same person. Your posts always make my mouth water but this one has made me homesick too!!!
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Reshma, Pinku...thanks a lot. means a lot since ii wrote with sleepy eyes. So was great to wake up to your lovely comments.

@Manasi... nothing sweet about phuchkas. They are sour and spicy and should make your eyes and nose water.

If I broadly generalise, there are two types of Bengalis. Ghotis, originally from West Bengal, like sweet in their food like Gujaratis, prawns and support Mohun Bagan in football.

Bangals, originally from East Bengal, like spicy food like Maharashtrians (?), hilsa and support East Bengal in Football.

I am a Bangal but living in Mumbai and being married to a Parsi family has awakened the sweet side in me.

@legally alien: that's him in the picture. Being homesick sucks. I go to paani puri gus at Mumbai and harangue them like a madman to put only alu and tetul jol in the puris. May you reach phuchka land soon
i love your goa stories...
Gup-chup thats what we call it and yes it has be sour and spicy...
k said…
now i feel bad about pinching two from your dish
Sonia said…
I never liked phuchkas till I came to Delhi but now whenever I am back home I crave for it.
I ask the golgappa guy here in Delhi to use the aloo from the aloo tikki and lots of chickpeas and then ask him Not to add the sweet chutney. It is exact but still close.
And miss Singadha too or is it samosa? :)
Btw, I realised I am becoming a regular at your is because of your writing style and the ease you do it with.
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@K....only two!

@Sonia... thanks so much for the seet comment. I am quite addicted to the blog now.

Even I wasn't too much of a phuchka person till I left Cal. Mummy's remonstrations on hygiene even through college days. Though i remember having ten or twelve for a Rupee when i had just come to India and was eight years old, somewhere near CLT, Dhakuria.

Now can't get enough of it when I return.

I miss shingara, specially with foolkopi
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Somoo... you call phuchkas gup chup...didn't know that... I love Goa