Sietsema's Cheap Eats: Gol Guppe

Categories: Eating, Featured

What do we want? Cheap eats. When do we want them? Now! If you're hungry for something delicious but your bank account is in the red, we're here to help you out (see our Cheap Lunch!) series—Our Man Sietsema has been sniffing out the good stuff. Here's Our Man on a fun and inexpensive variety of chaat—a category of Indian snack. (And check out Fork in the Road's Manhattan chaat roundup in the November 12th paper.)

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Gol guppe is the happy-go-lucky Punjabi nickname for a snack known elsewhere in India as pani poori. It consists of a half-dozen or more tiny flattened globes that resemble miniature pooris. These pooris, however, are not pliable and greasy, but as hard as fingernails. They come accompanied by a salad of potatoes and chickpeas lubricated with tamarind and cilantro chutneys, making gol gappey a species of chaat, an Indian word for composite snack.

To eat: break open a gol guppe with the wrong end of your plastic spoon, then shoot a teaspoonful of filling into the breach. Next, pour in as much of the accompanying tamarind water into the poori as you dare, then ferry the assemblage to your lips as fast as you can – since the tamarind water will already be leaking out, causing great hilarity among your dining companions. The tricky consumption of this snack constitutes a sort of game: Never let anyone tell you not to play with your food!

The tamarind water, which is spicy and salty and cool on the tongue, makes a nice beverage afterwards – which is lucky, because you’ll never manage to pour all of it into the pooris. Find this wonderful snack at Pavitra, which sounds like an erectile dysfunction medicine, but is really a new chaat house and sweets parlor in Richmond Hill, just west of the Van Wyck Expressway. It’s a great place to stop for your airline meal on the way to Kennedy Airport. 135-08 Liberty Avenue, Queens, 718-206-0666. The cost: $3.

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