Vodka-infused Indian street food a hit

Usually it's called "panipuri," but with the global fad of fusion food and drink spreading everywhere, don't be surprised if it begins being called "vodkapuri" in India.

The popular street food, also known in some regions as "gol gappa" or "gup chup," is a crisp-fried rounded piece of dough, hollowed out in the center and filled with various mixtures, usually a thin one of potato, chili and tamarind.

"Pani" is the Hindi word for water and "puri" is the word for the fried dough itself. While there are dessert versions as well, vodka panipuri is the hot item. The Indian newspaper Economic Times reports on the fad this way:

MUMBAI, India -- He leans forward and sticks his neck far out so that the panipuri doesn’t drip on to his crisp pinstriped shirt. A crunch and a gulp and it is downed in seconds. His face scrunches up, his eyes twitch and he begins to nod feverishly. No, it’s not just the spices. It’s the vodka that he’s swallowed neat. And all this at a friendly neighbourhood dhaba in Oshiwara that pulses to the beat of Punjabi remixes.

Vodka panipuri is attracting Mumbaikars in droves as are fancy concoction like chocolate paan, paan ice-cream , cheese-mango juice and Mexican bhel. This fusion food happily marries the culinary delights of two cultures, so what if the two items don’t traditionally gel?

The vodka puri in particular has a long queue of fans.

“Even though it is such an unlikely combination, it works well. The spices of the panipuri doubled with the rush of vodka makes for a great treat when you are fed up of eating the same food," says 22-year-old Breach Candy resident Varun Jhangiani, who popped his first fusion concoction at a Sindhi wedding. “We simply love alcohol and food, and this is a combination of both," he smiles.

Pratap Da Dhaba, earlier known as Chawala’s, has been around for over 40 years and now serves the vodka panipuri.

“We tried out different things to hold the interest of our consumers. This has worked very well for us," says owner Sanjay Pratap. “The vodka is poured in front of the customer. He can choose how much to add in each puri."

A plate of vodka panipuri at weddings is normally served with the chaat paani spiked. However at Pratap’s ... the potato, purses and chutneys are served separately, so that a customer can mix and match according to his or her taste."

(Go here for the rest of the story.)

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