Published: 21st September 2017
No man, just puri: India's favorite street food gets a modern twist thanks to these Manipal students
The machine, invented by four Manipal Institute of Technology students, works at the push of a button and is nothing like India's chaat scene has ever seen
When someone says pani puri or puchka, you need two things — tastebuds that welcome the spicy, mouthwatering concoction of stuffed potatoes and dripping pani, and the other is patience. That's where Electrofoodies, a group of four fourth-year students from the Manipal Institute of Technology come in.
It all began at a competition where Sahas Gembali, Sunanda Somu, Neha Srivastava and Karishma Agrawal bagged the first prize at the finale of Ink Makers held in Hyderabad with their prototype of a pani puri dispenser. Yes, you heard that right. Sahas Gembali says their trigger was the long wait often encountered at a pani puri stall (remember I said patience?).
Refill my fill: The dispenser promises more efficency, hygiene and speed |ScoopWhoop
The prototype, which still has a long way to go, is divided into the four main functions of the pani puri vendor — the puri, the stuffing, making a hole in the puri and the pani. The process includes feeding each option into a subsystem which is designed individually before being combined to create an automated machine. The greater idea behind this was to help vendors simplify their task and manage time. Of the two models created, the basic model will be a tool for pani puri vendors to help improve their efficiency. The advanced model will be placed at malls, airports and maybe even hostels.
One particular vendor felt that this would be helpful. Another guy from the restaurant Desi Firangi gave us a lot of feedback regarding the requirements of such a machine. We will employ all these suggestions to create our fixed prototype
Sahas Gembali, Student, MIT
However, digitising India's favourite street food seems a little overwhelming, but the four made sure to gather enough feedback, especially from vendors, culinary students and others in the food industry before proceeding to work on the prototype. "One particular vendor felt that this would be helpful. Another guy from the restaurant Desi Firangi gave us a lot of feedback regarding the requirements of such a machine. We will employ all these suggestions to create our fixed prototype," adds Sahas.
Now remember those endless pani puri-popping competitions with your siblings or friends? This machine promises to keep that spirit alive. Boasting two modes — multiplayer and single player — the machine will tally the score and keep track of the winners. All you have to do is push the button for a fresh serve. Individual eaters, don't fret. The single player mode does the same; the only difference being the lack of a competitor.
Every time someone said something we'd be like ‘we're going to prove you wrong
Sahas Gembali, Student, MIT
Now thinking of an idea like this in a street food-crazy country would have been met with a lot of enthusiasm, right? The answer, however is dismaying. Despite garnering a mixed response, the idea was met with a lot of skepticism. But that didn’t stop us from working on it, quips Sahas. “Every time someone said something we'd be like ‘we're going to prove you wrong’. We're engineers who love technology and we're also foodies. That's how we got together. And we knew that even if nobody else likes it, we certainly would,” he says, laughing.
While the wait for the machine could take a while, Sahas has a message for all those with crazy ideas. "Despite the tough experience my team and I went through, my message to people is: however crazy your idea is, go for it. If it works out, great. If it doesn't, you still learn something."