Parar Phuchkawalah
Each Para/neighborhood in Kolkata has their local celebrity Phuchkawalah/Phuchka-seller. They are the most sought-after street food. Phuchkas, also known as Golgappas or Panipuris elsewhere, are not only a popular street food in many places in India but also in Nepal and Bangladesh. Though we get Panipuris in many places in Dubai, the Bengali variant Phuchka is very different. And obviously not so easily available elsewhere.

I’m glad that Wikipedia considers Kolkata’s Phuchka to be ‘the king of this variety of snacks, compared to its cousins like Golgappas or Panipuris. The filling is made by lightly mashing boiled potatoes with black salt, salt, some spices, a generous portion of tamarind pulp (made by mashing ripe tamarind in tamarind water), chilli (powder/chopped/boiled & pasted). The Tetul Jol/Tamarind Water is made by mixing tamarind and spices/salt and making a light and tart liquid with water’.

The filling of Phuchka in Kolkata is different with Aloo/Potato, so is the Tetul Jol/Tamarind Water which smells of Gondhoraj Lebu/Bengali Lime. This Gondhoraj Lebu or the Bengali Lime remains elusive in the shores outside the shores of Bengal. Even visits to the Bangladeshi market in Sharjah doesn’t bring much success. So I try to substitute the Thai Kaffir Lime leaves for the faint aroma of Lime.

Panipuris in Dubai:
We get Panipuris in many places in Dubai. Obviously they are not sold at every street corners like they are available in Kolkata. And the ones that are sold are more palatable to the Indians hailing from other Indian states but Bengal. The following are a few restaurants where you’ll find Panipuris
– Bombay Chowpatty – Trade Centre Road, Karama, Dubai; TEL: +971 4 396 4937/ Bombay Chowpatty has also opened in Dubai Media City and has a stall in the Food Court in Lulu Hypermarket Al Barsha
– Bikanerwala – Karama; Tel: +971 4 3968813/ Food Court, Lulu Hypermarket, Quasis; Tel: +971 4 2987030/ Al Wahda Street, Sharjah; Tel: +971 6 5537933/ Also opening in Al Barsha
– Chhappan Bhog – Trade Centre Road, Karama, Dubai; TEL: +971 4 396 8176
– Puranmal – Bur Dubai, Dubai (Opposite Dubai Museum); TEL: +971 4 351 1466/ Trade Centre Road, Karama; Tel: +971 4 3968486/ Website: Puranmal Sweets (Puranmal has been added on the suggestion of a reader). Also read Burp and Belch’s roundup of the 5 best places in Dubai for Chats.

Phuchka in Vivekananada Park – World famous in Kolkata!
Phuchka for me has to be in Vivekananda Park in South Kolkata. And from the one and only one Dilipda. This doesn’t take away the credibility from other Phuchkawallahs who are almost like local celebrities of each locality. This time I set out with my gang – the Z-SISTERS, husband, also Mum-in-law in tow to capture Dilipda’s Phuchka in pen, paper and picture! Damn the car breakdown in Easter Bypass and hopping into a Taxi – the interiors of which were to fall apart even if we half-sneezed. Obviously a little bit of drama added to the taste explosion that Dilipda’s Phuchka always bring in.

Dilipda, The Celebrity
Dilipda is very famous. He’s also the epitome of name-dropping! ‘Ei to Bipasha Basu bollo aar NDTV eshe hajir!/Bipasha Basu mentioned me and NDTV came running!’ or ‘Debosree to kurita Phuchka khabeyi khabe!/ Debosree will definitely eat 20 Phuchkas!’ or ‘Konkona amar kaach theke Phuchka Moshla niye jay!/Kankana takes the Phuchka Masala from me!’

Bipasha Basu, Konkona Sensharma being famous Bollywood film stars while Debosree is our star from home – Tollywood film industry. Clippings of many more stars and starlets, newspaper cut-outs adorn the backdrop of Dilipda‘s stall. It’s like a little indigenous Wall of Fame!

This clipping from The Telegraph reveals that this is the most sought-after street food haunt for most of Kolkata’s celebities. A place where they are not disturbed and enjoy their ‘common man’ escapades in peace!

Dilipda, The Beginning of History
Dilipda is the 3rd generation of Phuchkawallas settled in Kolkata. His great grandfather had hailed from Bhagalpur in Bihar, a neighbouring state of Bengal. His food stall – Maharaja Chaat Centre has been serving Phuchkas exactly at the same spot for the last 35 years. Before that his stall was in the Safari Park inside the Lake that adorns the Southern Avenue. When Kolkata Municipality banned them from selling there in 1980, all the street food vendors shifted base to Vivekananda Park. Even today the kiosk looks the same and smells of the same spice that used to explode my senses when I used to go all the way to Vivekananda Park to satiate my Phuchka craving!

At a rate of 1,000 Phuchkas served daily to 100 people, he has been feeding atleast 12,500,000 Phuchkas so far! No mean task at all. Deserves a standing ovation. And I owe this to him – for all the Phaos/Free Phuchkas that I have demanded from Dilipda in my lifetime!

Dilipda arrives daily at his stall at 3pm in his small blue cycle van which he terms a as his BMW-Mercedes. Back in his Tollygunge house his family helps in making around 2,000 fresh crispy Phuchkas every day. And the different types of water that accompany the Phuchkas and the other snacks that he serves – the Telul Jol/Tamarind Water and the Phuchkar Jol/Phuchka Water. Along with the minute detailing in the variety of fresh garnishes. The water is prepared fresh daily, he says. And he also prepares it with Mineral water if informed earlier for all his NRI (Non-Resident Indian) customers who are very fragile in their digestion capabilities where road side food is concerned! He also warns ‘Ota oto kintu tasty hoyna!/It is not that tasty though!’… probably because some dust and grime has to get into street food to make it what it is – non-replicable!


  • Time: 1 hour
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Category – Snacks; Cuisine type – Indian Road-side

If there can be a category like that!

Phuchka Masala
Coriander seeds – 1 kg
Cummin Seeds – 200 gm
Cloves – 10 gm
Cardammom Sticks – 50 gm
Mouri/Fennel Seeds – 200 gm
Jowan/Ajwain/Carom Seeds – 50 gm

Dry roast the above and pound them/grind them coarsely to a powder.

Tetul Jol/Tamarind Water
For 1 lt water –

Salt – 1tsp
Black Salt – 1/2 tsp
Phuchka Masala (the above) – 1 tsp
Red Chilli Powder* – 1/4tsp
Tamarind Paste – 10gm
Lime Juice – 2tsp
Raw Mango Paste – 1tsp
Gondhorjaj Lebu/Bengali Lime – 1 tsp (You may use Kaffir Lime for the aroma)
Coriander leaves – chopped – a bunch
Mint Leaves – chopped (optional)

*Red Chilli Powder – Dry roast Whole Red Chillis with Salt and then grind them into a powder

Flour – 500gm
Baking Soda – 1/2 tsp
Ajwain/Jowan/Carom Seeds – 1/2 tsp
Salt – 1/2 tsp
White Oil – 1 tsp

Knead the above into a dough and make small flat cakes from this dough and fry them in white oil till crisp.

Atta/Whole Wheat – 800gm
White Flour – 100gm
Shuji/Semolina – 100gm
Salt – 1/2 tsp

Knead the above into a smooth dough, make small round balls and flatten them into thin circular sheets with rolling pins and fry in white oil till they are fried into crispy and hollow Phuchkas/Puris.

The Filling
For 6 potatos –
Phuchka Masala (the above) – 2 tsp
Boiled Chickpeas – 1 cup
Crumbled Phuchkas – 6 pieces
Crumbled Papris – 6 pieces
Green Chilli Paste – 1/4tsp (optional)
Salt – a pinch
Black Salt – a pinch
Tetul Jol/Tamarind Water – 150ml

Boil Aloo/Potato with skin. Peel off and mash thoroughly with Phuchka Masala and Green Chilli Paste (optional – depending upon taste), Salt and Black Salt, Tetul Jol/Tamarind Water along with the crumbled Phuchkas, Papris and boiled Chickpeas.

The Method of Eating Phuchkas
A small hole is made into the fried crispy round Phuchka and the filling is put inside. Then the Phuchka along with the filling is dipped into the Tamarind Water and served to the Phuchka-hungryyyyy onlooker! Bite into it crunchily, spilling the Tetul Jol/Tamarind Water along the line of your mouth and anxiously wait for more. It’s perfectly okay to salivate a bit!

Enjoy the pictorial journey into some historic Phuchka eating… Dilipda making Phuchka, Mum-in-law turning assistant and writing down the recipe, the famous Aloo Makha/Mashed Potato that go into the Phuchkas as filling…

The Cost
Dilipda’s Phuchkas are relatively more expensive than other places. After all he’s a local ‘brand’!

Phuchkas come at a cost of Rs 2:50/piece; Dahi Phuchka comes at Rs 40/plate (6 pieces of Phuchka); Aloor Dum comes at Rs 40/plate (10 pieces of Aloo/Potato) or Rs 20/half a plate (5 pieces Aloo)

The famous Tetul Jol/Tamarind Water… ‘Arektu jol dao pleaseeeeeee…../Please give me more Water! This is the ultimate. The taste of this Water can make or break the Phuchka. Like I have mentioned before –  he also prepares it with Mineral water if informed earlier for all his NRI (Non-Resident Indian) customers who are very fragile in their digestion capabilities where road side food is concerned!

Dahi Phucka
This is also a very popular variant – Dahi Phuchka – where Dahi or Yoghurt is poured on top of Phuchkas with filling!

Churmur is the crumbled version of Phuchka. It is an appropriately spicy sign-off to the Phuchka – broken down into pieces so as to reach each and every cell and every core! This dish must have originated from utilising the left-over Phuchkas, but now have earned it’s reputation as a main dish by itself.

Aloor Dum/Spicy Potato

The sign-off… Debt Repaid!
When we used to eat Phuchkas in our childhood, we always hankered for Phaos or free Phuchkas. The number of Phaos determined the generosity of the Phuchkawallahs. Dilipda must have given many such Phaos to my friends and to me. I hope my article repays all my debt to him. You can reach him on his mobile on +919231657931 and he can dumbfound your guests in any party or a wedding reception. When Kolkata is engulfed by the festivities of Durga Puja, Dilipda’s stall is open throughout the night and feeds upto 2,000 Phuchka-cravers.

He may be a Bihari from Bhagalpur but he’s a pride of any Bengali Kolkatan. Time has stood still as he’s been feeding his Phuchkas and Aloor Dum to a generation which includes my parents to the IPad generation that includes the Z-SISTERS. He hasn’t changed. His next generation is equipped to carry on the mantle that was passed to him from his grand father. Thank God for that!

While you enjoy seeing the photographs, I request you not to use them. Somethings don’t change with regards to Phuchkas – for example, the expressions. They are always the same when one gulps the Phuchka down. You are always wide-eyed with the lips forming an unbelievable ‘Oh’. Even if you eat Phuchka everyday of your life, each Phuchka still gives the same sensation – as if you are hit by it for the first time! Or the 2 common sentences that follow this gulping down mechanism –

‘Dilipda, aro jhaal dao please/Give more spice Dilipda!’ or ‘Dilipda, aar jhaal diyona baba!/Don’t give any more spice Dilipda!’

Unblogging it all… Ishita

PS: You might be interested in the Spicy Baby Potatoes or Aloor Dum – Kolkata Street Style!

Disclaimer: All pictures have been taken by me unless mentioned otherwise. Please note that this post is not a sponsored post and the subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and are independent. While you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts. You can catch my daily food and travel journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Written by IshitaUnblogged

A Culinary Travel Blog by a Bong Gourmet. From Dubai, Kolkata & the world beyond, street food to fine dining, recipes to chef talks, it pens down experiences. With 2 kids in tow!


  1. phuchkas are a must have during trips home…went to the Vivekananda park one before I left cal…i thought there was a mashi there then…had dahi phuchka for the first time…guess i like my phuchkas deglammed…great post…sharing it on fb

    1. Thank you Kalyan… and thanks for sharing:)
      Phuchkas must be everyone’s heart-throb – maximum visits to my site… WOW to Dilipda-r Phuchka. I like my phuchkas deglammed too I guess. There’s one Mishti Jol which I forgot to mention here – that too I am not that fond of.

  2. I loved this post!!
    Only yesterday I returned from Kolkata and now you have just increased my home-sickness. I love phuchkas and it definitely is made the best in Bengal. I don’t like the sweetened version non-bengalis make outside Bengal though.
    Thanks for the beautiful memories you evoked through your writing.🙂

    1. Yes, Phuchkas are very typical and popular street food in many part of India. But the taste and the way it is prepared varies from one place to another. Just going down the memory lane and visiting places, eating stuff that we used to when were kids…

  3. I read your post briefly just around 6:30pm my time. I scrolled through the photos. I drooled. almost endlessly. And I had to switch off coz I knew I wouldn’t get anything close to what you describe here in Singapore!
    I was also a little jealous😉
    Your post just made me want to go back to Kolkata! If there’s one street food I need to pick, it has to be the pani pooris/phuchkas! I always have to have ’em and have it every few days during my trip to India. If possible, every day! This is one thing where hygiene takes a back seat😉 About 3 years ago, I had to go to Bandel to meet some relatives. There is a church in Bandel, apparently, very famous. May be even world famous😉 There are phuchka waalas standing right next to the church. I swear, I have never ever had any phuchka better than that! My husband and his bro who lives in Cal also agreed. They used a special type of fresh chillies and the fragrant limes (gondho lebu) as they are also called. It was divine. I could go back there just for the phuchkas! Totally worth it!

    1. It’s the Phuchka effect! And would you believe I had studied in Auxillium Convent in Bandel for two years and probably seen ‘this’ Phuchkawala every day of my life then. But unfortunately, we were not allowed any money or Phuchkas at that point of time. I believe you when you say that you’ve never had any better Phuchkas in your life. But you must be having Bikanerwala in Singapore… you just have to pray that there’s a staff working there from Kolkata – he may try to replicate this Aloo version…

      Your latest post is mind-boggling so is your Daal Makhani… love your posts and your photography…. you got to share some tips in one of your posts for your readers:)

    1. Thank you Sandeepadi! Na na amra mineral water version khayi tayi na – touch wood ekhono obodhi sherokom kichu hoy ni. Meyeder jonyoi bhoy lage. They had the dry Phuchka. Yes, recipe if from Dilipda himself – Mum-in-law khub diligently blogger bou-er jonyo likhlen!!! Just realised that Aloor Dum-er recipeta likhte bhule ghechi. I’ll soon update…
      If you are interested in the mineral water he said to let him know before so that the masala can mix!

      1. phuchka recipe is helpful. but also looking forward to the recipe of aloor dum. pls be quick. mouth watering posts. thanks anyways.

        1. Sonali, didn’t share the Aloor Dum recipe – realised that I had promised to update. Goodness, I think it’s lost now. Let’s see how to get it! Thank you for the reminder:)

  4. Great post…All Bongs from Kolkata will love this. Pictures are soooo real…made me drool !!! However, in your mention of Pani puri’s in Dubai….didn’t see Puranmal’s name😦. Personally, their Pani puri’s are the best here.

    1. Thanks Chandrani. Actually I have thinking of doing up a section with readers’ valuable comments. Will update this post with Puranmal’s info for sure. I personally haven’t tried Puranmal’s hence hadn’t mentioned it.

  5. The Potato Mash in your recipe strangely does not include boiled chola or chickpea ( used by puchkawallas mostly in the Central parts of Kolkata ie Minto Park to Dalhousie ) or boiled Matar ie white peas that is used for Ghugni (used by puchkawallas in para mores ie street corners in south kolkata

    1. Will check with him again. I’ve got his phone no. I was also thinking that those things were missing – probably because he’s not used to giving out proper recipes. Thanks for pointing this out!

  6. Hey, my mouth is watering after this post… Now will surely eat the Mumbai version i.e. the pani puri today evening…

  7. Wonderful blog – so nostalgic! Noting though that the old “shaal patar thonga” has vanish from the fuchka stand — in my childhood (in the seventies) that was the norm – more environment friendly than those plastic things ! Will try out some of your wonderful fusion recipes.

    1. Thank you Tapasi! Even saw small steel bowls while eating with another Phuchkawala. Yes, definitely the old “shaal patar thonga” was hygenic as well. I was worrying about how well these bowl were washed! Look forward to more feedback:)

    2. Exactly what I was going to write!! The Sal leaf cup folded and pinned together with a bit of the Sal leaf petiole! The conical shape exactly to hold the water.

      My time was a little earlier than yours! Sixties! 1968, phuchkas at the famous Bhai who stood without any protection from the weather, day in and day out serving the kids from Loreto House, Middleton Street. 3 per 10 paise, and that was a premium price in those days!

      The trademark laal shalu’r dhakna: the wicker phuchka stand and the basket piled high with the whole phuchkas held in with the red cotton cloth that had never been washed in the 20 years i knew the gentleman! Stout and balding, out in the hot sun, sweating profusely witwall h nary a bandana. The occasional nose-blowing into fingers and wiped on the concrete pancheel or boundary wall of Byrkmire’s Hostel.

      The other ustad was at the corner of Short and Wood Streets, serving both the Little School and Big School of St. Xavier’s, along with a jhalmuri master and the tuntunwala, who sold all things imaginable under the sun. Brightly colored lattoos [tops]. marbles, inimitable churan. dried zizyphus [tiny wild variety one could never buy on the open market], hog plums inu season, plus a million more things essential to the existence of little boys, and sometimes, moms!

      Ishitadi, there is a confusing detail in your phucka masala: Cardamom sticks 50 gm. Cinnamon?

      Also, in those days, NO Gandharaj in water, no cilantro leaves either.

      Thanks much for the memories!

  8. Have been there so many times. . Loved reading this in mumbai visit the place whenever i go there… Once i was clicked there by hindustan times years back…. A friend had called me up to tell this next morning… Mouth watering …puchkas and dahi puchka and aloo dum everything..

    1. Thank you! This place is absolutely classic, honestly! It must have been exciting to have been caught in print while munching on the phuchkas… am missing them so much as I reply to your comment!

  9. Hey @Ishitaunblogged, your site name makes me think Ishita has unloaded whatever was in her head. amazing bloggging. I am currently working on a site which makes all the forms of art in Kolkata together. I have considered Blogs, music and photos and may be short films later. Request you to please support my initiative to make the whole Kolkata readers,listeners and viewers together at one place. Here is the facebook page

  10. HI Ishita thanks for the reply, people have to start from somewhere isnt it? My website creation is under process and before I launch my website I want to make sure I get at least 50 people to visit the website. YOu dont need to do anything, I will just post your blogs on the Facebook page from time to time and when the website is launched, all your posts will be featured. Is that alright?

  11. Hi in the masala you have mentioned Cardammom Sticks an you please explain because cardamon are pods. Secondly can you please share what is the powder or the masala in the second jar.Thankyou so much and it a pleasure to read your blog and the articles . They are so well written and photographed

  12. Lovely this the authentic recipe of dilipda that you mentioned in the post?Also..there is another bottled masala in the picture..Can you please post the recipe for that and its usage in the recipe?

  13. Hey Ishita.. Came across your blog today.. Loved the write up and pictures..gondhoraj lebur shugondho ta nake almost dhuke gailo, tarmodde pujo ashchhe ashchhe.. This is one amongst the few things that I miss in this part of the country.. Never had dilip da’r phuchka.. A definite must try in the next trip to sosurbari.. 😀

  14. Hello your blog is really interesting and very informative .I would be very grateful if you could kindly clarify whether it is cardamom sticks od cinnamon in the puchka masala. Please keep on writing and thank you for sharing the recipe for the Alur Dum too and a big thank you to your Ma in Law for helping you in getting the recipes to us.

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