Gol gappas: Spicy Water balls

Now this one is a masterpiece. I have had more gol gappas in my life than I can ever count. Chaat has always been an integral part of Indian street food, snacks and appetizers. Gol gappe or paani puri is by far the most loved variety of chaat. This will tantalize your taste buds like no other thing can. As you savor this, you are bound to literally experience an explosion of myriad flavors in your mouth; crispy, sweet, spicy, tangy, salty. Pani puris can be found on roadside food carts/hawkers, small or big restaurants all over India. No wedding, no birthday party, no kitty party, no celebration is complete without a hearty dose of gol gappas.

Gol gappas are basically small balls made of flour and semolina that are deep fried and stored in airtight containers so that they retain their shape and crispiness. When they are served, each ball is slightly crushed on the top, right in the center to make a hole. Then each is filled with boiled chickpeas, potatoes and sweet chutney(dip) and dipped in chilled mint flavored tangy water. Each gol gappa is to be eaten as a whole at one go. I have to mention here that I am reminded of my American friend who visited me last month. We were hanging out and thought of having pani puri right across the street. The way he had his first ever gol gappa is legendary in my books and it is something that will always make me laugh uncontrollably. He actually drank all the tangy water that was inside the gol gappa and threw the ball away thinking that it was just a miniature ball used to fill a special drink. Good sense prevailed and he was soon relishing this mouth-watering delicacy just like the way I was. By the time he left India, he had become a pro at it. Even today, when we talk, he fondly remembers gol gappas as “Water balls”.

There is another interesting thing about gol gappas that I would like to share with you all. Everybody knows that they are great crowd-pullers and crowd pleasers but I personally feel that they are also a great way to strengthen bonds and relationships. I have seen in too many Indian families, when husband and wife are at loggerheads or have fought over something trivial, husband often asks his wife if she would like to go and have some gol gappas with him. And before you know it, they are back to being the quintessential, inseparable lovebirds. Although I would personally prefer diamonds, but this tried and tested cheap tactic of making-up almost always works because you can never say NO to gol gappas. They are so irresistible that you can binge upon them even when you have your stomach full.

If you are tempted beyond control, here is how you can make your own gol gappas at home:

Ingredients for puri/gol gappa

  1. 1 cup semolina (suji)
  2. 2-3 tbsp maida (all purpose flour)
  3. 1/4 tsp baking soda
  4. salt
  5. oil for frying
  6. Water to knead the dough


  1. Knead all the ingredients together to form stiff dough.
  2. Cover the dough with a wet cloth or towel and keep aside for half an hour.
  3. Now take a medium sized ball from the dough and roll over to make a large circle.
  4. Using a round shaped cookie cutter of about 2 inch diameter, make as many small circles out of the large rolled out dough.
  5. Deep-fry all the small round circles in hot oil until they turn into golden brown puffed up balls.
  6. When cooled, store the gol gappas/puris in an air tight container so that they stay puffed up.

Ingredients for tangy water:

  1. 1 bowl chopped mint leaves
  2. 1 bowl chopped coriander
  3. Few pieces of ginger
  4. Green chillies
  5. Tamarind pulp
  6. 5 tablespoon sugar/crushed jaggery
  7. chaat masala powder or jal-jeera powder
  8. Black salt
  9. Water

Mix all the ingredients along with just a little water at this stage in a blender to form a thick paste. Take it out in a large container and add lots of chilled water. Check the seasoning and add more chaat masala or salt if needed.

To finally serve, make very small holes in the centre of each puri and fill it with a concoction of boiled chickpeas and boiled potatoes cut into small squares. Now dip the whole thing into the tangy water and serve. Since the tangy water is made from all natural healthy ingredients, this is one appetizer that aids in digestion.

Ready-made gol gappas are now easily available in packaged variety, which also contain a mixture in powdered form to make the tangy water instantly. If cooking is not really your forte, you can try those.

Gol gappas pictures

Author: Richa Arora


  1. Street food says:

    Interesting info about the Indian street food. But not sure if it is safe to eat.

    • Richa Arora says:

      Depends on the place you are having them at. If you ask me personally, life’s too short for all such worries. There are no guarantees in life. No risk/pain, No gain 🙁 Use caution when the need be but most importantly, Have Fun 😀 Cheers!

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