The love for ‘Pani Puris’ has travelled through all parts of the country to all parts of the country! Over the years new combinations with the regional ‘Tadka’ have been evolved. Today pani puris have various names that change from region to region with subtle variations in the recipes.
In north India, pani puris are known as pani ke pataashe or gol guppe. The stuffing is made out of a mix of mashed potatoes and chickpeas with a twist of tangy water. While travelling to Madhya Pradesh, these pani puris become tikki, which are served with spicy water and, mashed potato as its stuffing. In southern parts of India, pani puris are served with mash potato and chopped onions. In Gujarat, they are known as Phulkis and are served with boiled moong and in Maharashtra, peas curry is used as the stuffing instead of potatoes.
So the question I ask myself every time I am chomping on these super-delicious pani puris is who was the one who came up with the recipe! Was it an accident like most of the fascinating inventions or was it curated considering and exploring every possibility to please one’s taste buds? As I need to know the story I began to look for an answer. Turned out this was neither an accident nor an experiment, it was more of a test. Yes, you read it right, a mother-in-law testing her newly wed daughter-in-law!
The legendary story behind the famous Pani Puris goes back to the times of the epic Mahabharata. During the exile of Pandavas, while they were living on the scarce resources, Kunti wanted to test her newly-wed daughter-in-law, Draupadi. She gave Draupadi a task to make food that would not only satisfy the hunger of her five sons but also can be made using the minimum resources. For this task, Draupadi was given the wheat dough enough to make just one ‘Puri’ and some leftover potato sabzi. This was the alleged moment of the invention of Pani Puris. It is believed that Kunti was so impressed that she blessed this dish with immorality.