I grabbed the fragile and crispy shell between my fingertips as the sour sauce dripped on the sides, almost like chocolate syrup. The minced vegetables and chickpeas were embraced by the shell. My fingertips may have been frozen from the cold autumn weather of November 2019, but my heart was immediately surrounded by warmth once I allowed myself to taste one of my favorite traditional Indian snacks, panipuri, or fuchka. Panipuri is a common street food originating from the Indian subcontinent that is shaped into a little ball, cracked in the middle to stuff with various ingredients. These ingredients can range from flavors of sweet to tangy, but the ingredients I enjoy the most are cilantro, potato, chickpeas and beans doused with a sweet chutney made of tamarind and jaggery. The street food can be enjoyed warm or cold and is mostly sold by food trucks sitting on the end of streets of Jackson Heights.
My family and I stumbled upon the food truck on a day where I was stressed from my academic studies and anxious over the scores of the four tests I took that day. Everything was muddled for me, and I was very reluctant to take the train all the way to Queens when all I wanted to do was crawl under my blanket and fall into a peaceful slumber. However, although standing with my sisters in front of the food truck and snacking on panipuri wasn't exactly peaceful due to the crowded streets of New York City, the beautiful chaos and familiarity reminded me of trips my family and I would take to Bangladesh. I was transported into a paradise of nostalgia as the sweet and sour flavor danced on my tongue. At that moment, all my worries melted away just like the crispy shell of the pani puri, and I couldn't help myself from going back for seconds.