Liberty Gol Gappas: Guilty Pleasure to be Proud of
I find the semicircle that defines Liberty iconic- even if I do go for the gol gappas. The small nooks and corners in the market are definitive. From a distance, there is order. The shops are arranged in two-to-three story buildings around the semicircle; clustered but ordered. At first glance, big brands catch your eye. But it’s the small local vendors, pushed to the crevices that make up Liberty. When you enter the market, you are greeted by vendors young and small. The pavement is lined with stalls selling everything from kurtis to jewelry to sandals. An amalgam of color and hard work greet you at every step.
To the other side, scattered lazily by the sidewalk, are food vendors selling local snacks. The sidewalk itself is spacious and shoppers move leisurely towards their favorite shops, maneuvering through the traffic. Children selling coloring books and small toys bounce from customer to customer pleading them to buy just one. The flatbread seller, with his obnoxiously big basket, rests on one of the benches under a tree, taking a break from his venture yet still looking anxiously toward every passerby.[divider]C+G Breakdown[/divider]
in a nutshell:
- Unnamed stall, Lahore famous gol gappas
- Liberty market is like a zoo
- Street-side chilling
- Ask for everything and everything
- Steer clear of other hawkers
- Quick and easy on the pocket
Mounted on the sidewalk fence, like a king ascending to a throne, rest the best gol gappas I have ever tasted. A gol gappa is crisp, deep-fried, hollow puri that can be filled with all sorts of beans, potatoes, chutneys and flavoured waters. The shop is in front of the large Metro Shoes Store in Liberty; a haven for shoppers exhausted by a day spent indulging with capitalist fervor. This stall though is a shanty establishment. Chairs and tables stand by the boundary wall. As you sit down, a young man welcomes you. He has gol gappas with meethi chatni, gol gappas with yogurt, gol gappas with chaat, and gol gappas with just channay. I like their simple gol gappas with channay the best.
My server rushes back to a man behind the stall and repeats the order. My order is simple. It is quickly assembled. The man behind the stall, quite artfully, fills every gol gappa with the channay and with one flick of his wrist fills the bowl with the tart dipping water: khatta paani, or sour water.
The gol gappas are round, dainty and filled to the top. As I scoop them up from the plate, and fill them with the sour water, I feel like they will crumble. Yet they retain their structure. Carefully bringing them up, I consume them in one big bite; it feels like the leap of a jaguar taking down a deer. It’s a motion that takes practice; some might even call it an art – the art of eating gol gappas. It crumbles in my mouth immediately and brims my mouth with many flavors and textures. The sour water tingles. The mix is heavenly.[divider]the final equation[/divider]
It is this incomparable experience and taste that keeps bringing me back to Liberty to eat at an unnamed little stall. Without exaggeration, this might be some of the best street food in Lahore.