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Google celebrates pani puri world record in latest Google Doodle

The beloved snack has been commemorated with an interactive game on the search engine’s homepage.

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On July 12th, 2015, Indori Zayka, a restaurant in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, together with Hindi-language newspaper Dainik Bhaskar, achieved the world record for serving the most flavours of pani puri, serving a staggering 51 different flavours under the guidance of Masterchef Neha Shah.

Chef Neha Shah feeds a pani puri to a customer.
Indori Zayka and Masterchef Neha Shah served 51 different flavours of pani puri for their world record. (Source: Indori Zayka)

On Wednesday, Google paid homage to the beloved snack, commemorating the eight-year anniversary of this world record.

Google’s latest Doodle is an interactive game where players must help a street vendor serve different flavours of pani puri to their customers. Featuring cute Indian-inspired cartoon art and relaxing music with hints of sitar, the game is playable under both a timed and relaxed mode.

The flavours featured in the game reflect the diverse regional variations on the snack – the tamarind filled ‘phuchkas’ savoured in parts of Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, the jaljeera flavoured ‘golgappas’ found in Delhi and Punjab, and the popular Maharashtrian and Andhra Pradesh street food filled with chickpeas and bean sprouts.

Pani Puri
Known by many different names, this snack is typically served by street vendors all across India. (Source: Canva)

First seen in 1998, Google’s Doodles are a temporary alteration of the Google logo to honour global events and people. Part of their series of ‘Foodles’ (food related Doodles) featuring everything from Korean kimchi to West African jollof rice, this Doodle is the first time Indian cuisine has featured on the homepage of Google.

Pani puri’s origins have been traced back to the ancient Indian Kingdom of Magadha, what is now Southern Bihar, as small crispy puris called ‘phulki’. The humble snack also has mythological links; in the Mahabharata, Kunti tasked her exiled daughter-in-law Draupati to create a satisfying meal for the Pandavas from their scarce resources. With just leftover vegetables and enough dough to make one puri, Draupati invented the Golgappa, and an impressed Kunti blessed the dish with immortality.

Nowadays, pani puri is accessible all over the world through DIY kits on the shelves of most supermarkets and is popular amongst desi and non-desi palates alike. In March 2005, the word ‘pani puri’ was even added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Many local Indian restaurants serve pani puri on their menus; Sydney’s Harris Park area is littered with street food vendors, and in Melbourne, Werribee has plenty of chaat food restaurants.

Gol Gappa
Who knew Pani Puri could have a boozy twist! (Source: Canva)

Chefs are constantly experimenting with weird and wonderful flavours, including the theatrical flaming pani puri served on the streets of Ahmedabad, ice cream chain Apsara’s pani puri sorbets, and perhaps most bizarrely, a ‘Thums Up’ pani puri served by a Kolkata vendor incorporating the popular soft drink. Pratap the Dhaba, a bar in Mumbai’s Andheri West area is famous for its vodka pani puri shots which comes in plates of six.

Recently, Indian-origin MasterChef Australia Season 15 contestant Adi Nevgi put a Mexican twist on the snack for a Mystery Box challenge, filling her puri with avocado and salmon roe. Following the success of the dish with the judges, the 31-year-old Melbourne doctor plans to try a bubble-tea inspired Taiwanese Pani Puri and a chocolate milk Dessert Pani Puri.

 

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“Though there are many different types of filling and pani for everyone’s unique palette, there are two things everyone can agree on: eat it quickly to avoid the puri getting soggy or leaking, and always eat it in one bite to avoid a crumbly mess,” wrote Google.

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Lakshmi Ganapathy
Lakshmi Ganapathy
Lakshmi Ganapathy is an emerging journalist and theatre-maker based in Melbourne.

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