You may have had panipuri in Mumbai, or even golgappa in Delhi, but if you haven't tasted phuchka (not puchka) in Calcutta, you have not yet known the ultimate combination that can be prepared with the crispy fried balls. The panipuris I had on Juhu beach in Mumbai were too bland and somewhat sweetish. I dared not touch many of the Delhi golgappas; the notice that some of the sellers were flaunting simply scared me off: 'served with mineral water'! For the record, phuchka cannot be served with mineral water. It would be like serving a dish of biryani without that boiled potato, or serving an egg roll without onions! If you are afraid of water-borne diseases, don't have phuchka. But if you must, have as they serve it here in the east: no mineral water crap. Mashed potatoes, some tamarind, salt, slices of green chili, some decimated phuchkas, chili powder -- all mixed into a granular paste with bare hands. No fancy gloves and all, please. Then bits of this paste are put into phuchkas, one at a time, which are then dipped straight into that container of tamarind water, and served on the small plates that one was holding all this while in one's hand. Well, go on, gobble it up!
Puchkas, like rolls, are everywhere in Calcutta. One master of the art puts his stall at the south-east corner of Deshapriyo Park in south Calcutta everyday. The other day, with dinner with friends due in an hour, I happened to pass him by. Long story short, I ended up having 25 of those crispy devils and spoiling my appetite for dinner!