You either like it, or don’t.
If you do, it’s a snack better than the best sodium monoglutamate-coated chips (a snake, if you are from Ahmedabad). If you don’t, it’s an evil brown salty, powder-coated pill of something horrendously sour that smells like fart and you wouldn’t want one on your tongue, thank you very much. If you are one of the latter, stay away.
Hand-pulled stalls with piles of churan greet enthusiasts and non alike near Ranino Hajiro in the winding old city of Ahmedabad. At this junction where the road parts into trinket and fabric lanes, vata-kapha body types (I believe pitta people do not much care for sour) treat themselves with a variety of mukhwas.
There are the bite-y ones for those who are hungry– dried, ripe mangoes coated in jeera-sugar-salt mix. The same base enveloped in a mixture with red chilli powder added. Then there’s anardana. Ah, anardana. How much I miss it, the dried pomegranate pods encased in some mysterious punchy magical churan-powder, to be rolled on the tongue till the packet’s over and the skin from the ceiling of the mouth begins to peel. And a more royal relative of it, the gulkand-added version. Gulkand– the king of all things sweet, the best way a rose can present itself. And the king of them all, the chhuhara. The best date.
Then there are the less bite-y ones, the particular brand of blighters that give you a kick in the mouth and later in the belly- the asafoetida ingrained hingwati, or the evil tamarind laddoos that make you wink. Or the Amla suparis and jeera golis. Deadly ammunition all, against boredom, lack of appetite, melancholy and possibly e-coli.
Taste each first, sample them all. If possible, from every stall. There are subtle differences from vendor-to-vendor. Like wine, different kind of pomegranates and different varieties of mangoes yield different tastes with the same churan powder. Watch out for the overly moist, the overly salty, and the worst of all, the overly sweet.
Choose well. Learn the art. Appreciate the taste, the after-taste. It’s a quirk few have, a knack not many possess; the ability to gobble these sour-sweet-salty pellets, these smack-y, hard-hitting bullets.
Flaunt your passion. Boo the weak-tongued, the weak-bellied who frown upon you.