Mamta's Kitchen

Gole-gappa, Semolina Puffs Filled With Fire Water

Gole Gappa (Golegappa) or Pani poori (Puri) and Jal-Jeera

Abha Gupta

The name: Gole in Hindi means round and gapp is something you eat in one gulp, without cutting or breaking it. Jal mean water and jeera means cumin. Jal-jeera is a cumin and mint flavoured water, which is filled in each Golegappa, just before it is eaten.

This is a hot and spicy dish, from a group of snacks that are collectively known as 'Chaat' or 'Chat'. The word chaat is derived from a Hindi word 'chatna', that mean 'to lick'. These dishes are so spicy, tart and delicious that they make you lick your plates clean and smack your lips. Thinking about them makes your mouth water! You can see these Chaat wallahs, the street vendors, standing around on pavements of any busy shopping area in most towns and cities. They serve Gole-gappas, freshly filled with Jal-jeera or Fire-water. If a chaat wallah is any good, he becomes well known and people travel fair distances to eat his Chaat.

Traditionally, chaat is served on throwaway plates or bowls made from leaves of Sal tree, held together with small sticks or twigs, used as pins. Banana leaves are also used for this purpose in parts of India where they are abundant. These days, leaf plates and bowls are made by press-moulds in factories. They are sold in big packs, just like paper plates in the West.

Gole-gappas can be bought ready made in most good Indian stores these days, if you do not have time to make them. I would recommend making your own fire-water though, as opposed to using a packet mix. The taste is worth a little extra work. Do not be put off by the long list of ingredients, it takes a few minutes to make it in a liquidizer or blender. Reduce chillies if desired. Serves 6


  • For Gole-gappas:

  • 1 cup fine semolina

  • A pinch of baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp. Salt

  • 1 tbsp. oil

  • Luke warm water to make dough

  • Oil for deep frying

  • Wooden fork or chopsticks for turning gol-gappas over

  • For Jal-jeera or fire-water:

  • 1/2 cup tamarind puree* or pulp

  • 2 cups water

  • 2 tsp. roasted cumin seeds

  • 3-4 green chillies

  • A small bunch of coriander leaves

  • A bunch of fresh mint leave or 1-2 tbsp. of mint sauce

  • 1 tsp. black salt or kala-namak (not rock salt)

  • Table salt, to adjust salt to taste.

  • 2-3 tsp. brown sugar or jaggery (less or more, according to taste)

  • Optional:

  • Lemon juice to make it more tangy.

  • Accompaniments to serve:

  • 1 tin of boiled chick peas (if you cant get tinned ones, boil your own for a few hours in salted water or cook in a pressure cooker for 20-30 minutes)

  • Tamarind Chutney

  • Green Mango Chutney

  • 2 large baking size potatoes, boiled or microwaved, peeled and chopped

  • Extra salt, chilli powder and roast cumin powder in small dishes, for people to adjust spices on potatoes and chick peas, according to personal taste.

  • * Tamarind puree can be bought in jars from Asian grocers. It is much better than the dark coloured tamarind concentrate, it is just tamarind pulp with fibrous bits removed.


  1. Making Jal-jeera or fire water:

  2. Measure all ingredients for fire water into a liquidizer and blend for a few minutes.

  3. Adjust spices and tangy taste.

  4. Strain through a wire strainer to remove any rough bits/solids.

  5. Place in a jug or bottle and chill. It can be prepared a few days in advance. You can serve it as an appetizer before a meal, in small glasses, to get the taste buds going!

  6. Making semolina puffs or gole-gappas:

  7. Measure all ingredients for the dough, and make a medium firm dough by hand or in a food processor, adding water a little at a time.

  8. Cover dough with a wet cloth (J cloth or hankie) and keep aside for 30 minutes.

  9. Break off pieces of the dough and roll between palms to make smooth, 2-3 inch diameter balls.

  10. Keep covered with a moist, thin muslin cloth (or J cloth or hankie).

  11. On a floured or greased board, roll out each ball thinly, 2 millimetres thick approximately.

  12. Cut into a 3-4 cm. circles using a small biscuit or pastry cutter. Each round should be a single mouthful size because it is eaten as a whole, without breaking.

  13. Cover the circles with a moist cloth until you are ready to fry. It is important that each batch is covered with a moist cloth for a while before frying, to allow them to 'prove'. This helps them to puff up. I roll out 2 batches of 8-10, to start with, and then roll a fresh batch out while the last one is frying. If you are a beginner, it might be worth rolling out all gole-gappas first, but do remember that they must be kept covered with a moist cloth, until you are ready to fry or they will dry out. Get someone to help you, if you can. It is easier for two people to make them.

  14. Fry in low-medium hot oil by turning them gently with a wooden chop stick. This helps to puff them up. In India, the Chaat-wallas use twigs from trees instead of chopsticks. Keep turning a few times, until light brown on all sides and crisp. If the oil is too hot and they are cooked too fast, they will become soft and soggy like a poori.

  15. Take out using a slotted spatula onto a kitchen paper or on a newspaper and allow them to cool. When completely cold, they can be stored in air tight boxes for a few weeks.

  16. Serving:

  17. Each person should have a small bowl of Jal Jeera or fire water on their plate, along with all the other ingredients, including a few gole-gappas.

  18. A hole is made on the top of each gole-gappa using one's thumb.

  19. A couple of chick peas, a few pieces of potato and a little drop of both chutneys are spooned into each gole-gappa.

  20. Then Jal Jeera water is spooned into each gole-gappa one at a time, just before you pop it into your mouth. Yummy!

  21. Eat them whole in one mouthful. If you break it, the water will get everywhere on you!!

  22. Also see Chat Selection.


  • You can replace 1/3 to 1/2 of semolina with plain white flour.

  • Gole-gappas can also be eaten topped with a beaten natural yoghurt, a few chick peas, chopped boiled potatoes, Green Mango Chutney and Imli Chutney.

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