Yields

65 large phuchkas

Cooking Time

3 hours

Ingredients

For the phuchka papri

  • 200g Atta
  • 100g Suji (semolina)
  • 4g Salt
  • ¼ tsp Papad Khar
  • ¼ tsp Baking Powder
  • 170g Water
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying

For the phuchka water

  • 30g Lime juice
  • 25g Tamarind pulp
  • ¼ tsp Bhaja moshla
  • 3g Blacksalt (beetnoon)
  • 3g Salt
  • 400g Water

For the alu filling

  • 300g Boiled potatoes
  • 4g Salt
  • 4g Bhaja moshla
  • 1 tsp Chaat masala
  • ½ tsp Coriander powder
  • 7g Crushed green chillies
  • 10g Coriander leaves
  • 50g of phuchka water
  • 30g Boiled motor
  • 10g Soaked chhola
  • Onion chopped (optional)

[In this series, we tip our hats to some of our favourite dishes available in the restaurants, cafés, and cabins of Calcutta. Our purpose in doing so is to document their existence, and give people a way to recreate them if they happen to live away from the city. Make these at home, or hunt them down from the source—irrespective of how you get your hands on these items, we hope you enjoy them.]

Phuchka is a way of life in Calcutta. Everyone has their favourite phuchkawala (phuchka seller). Every para (neighbourhood) must have at least a few phuchkawalas who set up their stalls around four in the afternoon everyday. They bring their already fried phuchka papri or puris in huge bags and arrange them neatly in a huge wicker basket or a glass box. Then they start preparing their mis en place and mixing the tawk jol (sour water). By the time they are done, customers start gathering around them and the day’s business starts.

Method

What is Papad Khar?

Papad Khar (or Saji khar) is an alkaline salt made up of Sodium Carbonate (Na2CO3) and Sodium Bicarbonate(NaHCO3). The baking powder along with the Papad Khar help expand the papri when they are fried.

Sodium Bicarbonate is commonly sold as baking or cooking soda in grocery stores. Sodium carbonate is known as soda ash. You should be able to find Papad Khar in any big local grocery store in Calcutta.

How can I make papad khar at home?

To make a substitute for papad khar at home, you need to start with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Papad khar is a mixture of Sodium Carbonate and Sodium Bicarbonate in a 2:1 ratio by weight.

Step 1: Make Sodium Carbonate

You can make sodium carbonate by simply heating sodium bicarbonate either in an oven or in a pot. When heated sodium bicarbonate releases water (vapour) and carbondioxide to turn into more alkaline sodium carbonate.

2 NaHCO3 => Na2CO3 + H2O + CO2

Step 2: Mix

Using a weighing scale mix Sodium carbonate and bicarbonate in 2:1 ratio by weight. Now you have Papad khar.

Equipment

  • Mixing bowl
  • Plastic wrap
  • Bench scraper
  • Weighing scale
  • Rolling pin
  • Korai or Wok
  • Jhuri or colander
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Small bowl

Appliances

  • Stove
  • Oven