Churmur – The Bengali Roadside Snack

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When you grow up in a city and you have to leave your familiar streets, roads, stores all of a sudden it feels a radical change. I have grown up in Kolkata most part of my childhood and teenage have passed in the city of joy. And then I had to leave – first to Bangalore and then to a whole different country, to the United States.

Its been almost 5 years since I left Kolkata, but there are still some little things that tend to draw me towards the undying city. Of course my folks are there and so there is a special bond. But, what am talking about is the dusty roads, the sweaty rickshaw wala, the continuous honking of buses and cars and of course the phuchka.

While in Bangalore, I still used to get the cousin of phuchka – golgappa though they used mint paste and onions in the filling (which I hate). But, here in the US phuchka is a far off thing.

The last time I went to my local grocery store, there was this plastic box of golgappas sitting at one corner of the aisle, and I just grabbed them. That evening was a nice one – a treat with phuchka, though they still missed something. My father would probably call that to be the sweat of the vendor and Kolkata’s dust.

The other popular snack from the same phuchkawala is the alu kabli and churmur. Alu kabli is the spicy hot and sour mixture of bite size boiled potatoes. Churmur is the broken down version of phuchka, or rather its a transition between alu kabli and phuchka.


Snack, Indian, Roadside snack, Bengali roadside recipe, Unhealthy tasty food
Cooks in    Serves 2
  • 10-12 phuchka balls
  • 1 medium size potato, boiled and chopped to bite size pieces
  • 1/4 cup soaked and boiled round chickpeas/ Bengal gram
  • 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon rock salt or kosher salt
  • A few sprigs of cilantro, chopped finely
  • 2-3 green chillies, chopped finely
  • 1/8 cup tamarind juice, flowy consistency
  • 1 teaspoon of lime juice
  • Mix all the dry ingredients with the potatoes, it’s better not to mash the potatoes
  • Crumble the phuchka balls and add it to the potato mix
  • Add the chickpeas, green chillies, cilantro, lime juice and tamarind paste; and give it a final toss
  • Serve immediately.

Share your phuchka story with us.

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Prepare Phuchka (Golgappa) at home

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“When people wore hats and gloves, nobody would dream of eating on the street. Then white gloves went out of style and, suddenly, eating just about anything in the street became OK.”

–          Jane Addison, quoted in the Great Food Almanac by Irena Chalmers

Street food in Kolkata epitomizes the pada (neighborhood) culture. Having something at the nearest roadside vendor is not only about eating and fulfilling ones gastronomic urges, but it is also a means of having food with family, friends and sometimes even strangers. Street foods that are in vogue are phuchka, jhal muri, papri chat, muri makha, vegetable chop, and beguni, but phuchka ranks above all. Someone from South Calcutta won’t find it a pain to travel all the way to Bowbazar (for the uninitiated in Calcutta’s geography, Bowbazar is almost an hour drive from South Calcutta) just to confront his friends that the phuchka wala at his pada is better than theirs.

Now, by “street food”, I don’t mean what one can get in the big or even the small restaurants, roadside food is that what you get from the makeshift stalls on the foot path of whole of Bengal. There are also other names for it in the different states of India. Some call it Pani Puri, some golgappa. But if you ask any Calcuttan he/she will say phuchka is definitely different from golgappa or panipuri. The difference may be obscure, probably it’s only the colloquial term that varies, but there is a little difference in one of the ingredients that significantly differentiates phuchka from all its synonyms. The vendors in Bengal use gandhoraj lebu (a typical lemon produced in suburbs of Bengal) to flavor the filling and the tamarind water of phuchka. And this is where all the difference is.


Kolkata street food is such a rage, that there are places in different part of India and even abroad holding “Calcutta street food festival”. When I started having phuchka, as far as I remember it was 5 for a rupee and the last time I had it back in Kolkata I got three for two rupees. Though here in Bangalore there are places where you get pani puri that almost tastes like those back in Kolkata, but are highly priced. Talking about phuchka, I can’t leave the phuckhwalas, people who sell the phuchka. They are mostly from Bihar/Jharkhand, and you just can’t beat them with their style of the phuchka preparation.

Cooking time: 8-10min

Preparation time: 12min

Makes 20 phuchka


  • Phuchka balls: 20
  • Potato(Alu): 2 large
  • Whole Bengal gram (Chola): 2 tablespoon, soaked
  • Green chili (Kacha Lanka): 4, chopped finely
  • Cumin (Jeera): 1 teaspoon, roasted and then grinded
  • Lemon juice (Pati lebu ras): 1 teaspoon
  • Cilantro (Dhane pata): Chopped to 2 tablespoon
  • Tamarind pulp (Tetul): 4 tablespoon
  • Salt to taste


  • Boil the potatoes with the skin on, peel off after boiling and mash properly so that no lumps remain
  • Add soaked bengal gram green chili, cumin powder, lemon juice, one tablespoon of cilantro to the mashed potato and mix well
  • Take the tamarind pulp in a big bowl and add 2 cups of water to it with salt and the rest of the cilantro, mix well
  • Add 2 tablespoon of the tamarind water to the mashed potatoes and keep the rest aside
  • Break just the upper part of one phuchka ball and put in one teaspoon of the filling, fill the other balls also similarly
  • Serve with the rest of the tamarind water
Phuchka with tamarind water

Phuchka with tamarind water

Hot Tips – Though not the basic component, you may also like to add some chopped onions to the filling to make it spicier.

Further Reading – Rasta Nasta, Sasta way, Crazy Street Food of Kolkata

Phuchka is the ideal recipe to send for the “Family Recipe” event at The Life and Loves of Grumpy Honey Bunch co-hosted by Laura of The Spiced Life.

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