The Magic of Gol Gappay

There are a couple of things that you need to do for Pakistani’s to say “Yeah, you’re definitely a Pakistani”. On the list are various things like

  • interest in cricket
  • extreme interest if it’s a Pakistan vs India cricket match
  • loving biryani
To be very honest, the only trait I have from the above list is loving biryani, because honestly, who doesn’t love biryani? For those of you who don’t know, biryani is a boiled rice dish with chicken or beef, often colored red or orange and eaten with chili sauce or yogurt. It can be spicy or not very spicy, but it’s often delicious nevertheless. If you want 100% delicious biryani, come to my place. My mother makes the best 🙂

Another very popular trait is eating street food. You heard it- buying food from vendors on the streets. Now until very recently, this was also a trait that I didn’t have. My friends did not know this, but when they suggested going out to buy something, I went along interested in seeing what it was that they intended to eat.

“We’re going to eat gol gappay”
“What is that?” I asked curiously. “I’ve never eaten those before”
Cue a shocked silence and everyone stopping right where they were before turning around in my direction.
“You’ve never eaten gol gappay before? What kind of Pakistani are you?!” was the torrent of insults I received, along with the ever popular ‘burger bachhi’.
Now to be honest, my parents always told me not to eat things from street vendors and as a result, I had never eaten any sort of snack from them before. With everyone dragging me over to taste what I had been missing all my life apparently, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try, right?
So gol gapay are these little bite sized- more like mouth sized actually- little cups. According to Wikipedia, the contents can include tamarind chutney, chili, chaat masala, potato, onion and chickpeas. There’s a whole plate and a small container of flavored water that contains spices. What you have to do is dip your little cup into the water and stuff the entire thing in your mouth as fast as possible. 
It’s quite the impossible sounding feat.
The first time I did it, I managed to fill the cup half-way with flavored water before saying “What do I do next?” in confusion. I did not know how to eat it- should I bite into it? Wouldn’t the water leak out? While I was busy contemplating the science of eating gol gappay, the crisp cup had gotten soggy and started dripping at the bottom while my friends yelled at me “PUT IT IN YOUR MOUTH RIGHT NOW”
Panicked, I shoved the entire thing in and oh wow, it wasn’t anything like I imagined. I can’t even describe how amazing it was. My friends stare at me and ask “How was it?”
It takes me a while to finish savoring the flavors before saying “THAT WAS GREAT! I want more!”
And that’s the story of how I ended up jumping at every chance we could get out to buy more gol gappay. Despite getting stomach cramps the first time I had them, I figured my stomach would probably be alright the second time around and so far, it’s been good. My stomach doesn’t get upset anymore and I get to enjoy eating this traditional snack dish. Win!
What kind of snacks are considered part of your culture? Has there been any dish that you have recently tried for the very first time? How comfortable are you with trying something new?
Have a nice day!
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Author: Kanra Khan

I'm a Pakistani American student of medicine, or more precisely, an almost-graduate of MBBS Class of 2019. I like to write about my experiences in med school and my adventures in life, which range from traveling, to art, to blogging and photography. Like what you're seeing so far? Consider exploring a bit more! The Lunar Descent is endless.

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