Pani Puri is the most tongue-tickling street snack from India: Crispy Spheres filled with Sprouts + Spicy, Sweet, Tangy flavors and a Spiced ‘Water’! Unbelievably Scrumptious!
So, that was it! Holidays over and done with. This is the last day before I’m heading back to work! Brr… Baby, it’s Cold Outside… I had to make something really, really special to end the holidays. Something to perk us up as we contemplate the daily grind that awaits us from Monday.
Pani Puri! Call them what you will, pani puri, golgappa, puchka, gup chup, pani pataashe, pakodi… they are a mouthful of deliciousness! And they are my favorite Indian snack, hands down!
Crisp, hollow spheres of deep-fried dough that are filled with the most awesome concoctions: sprouts, potatoes, a sweet date-tamarind chutney, a spicy mint-cilantro chutney, salty boondi… and then the sphere is dipped into a tangy, spicy ‘water’…
And then the whole thing needs to be stuffed into your mouth…in one big mouthful. The sphere crumbles in your mouth and all the promise concealed inside comes rushing out… 😀 Spicy, sweet, tangy, salty, soft, crunchy… so many sensations, so little time!
‘Pani’ means water in Hindi, referring to the spicy water in this snack and ‘Puri’ is the word for the little hollow spheres. The name simply means spheres of water. The spheres are really delicate, crumbling at the slightest touch, but still firm enough to hold water for a few seconds…
It is one of the best street foods in India and one of the first things I eat every time I land in India 😀 Everyone has their favorite Pani Puri vendors; hand-carts and stands exist at every street corner. And everyone has their own special preferences.
Some like it sweet(er), some like it hot(ter)… And the best way to eat them is crowded around the vendor’s stall, impatiently awaiting your turn and trying hard not to drool.
And eating them is like a race against time. You have seconds to pop them into your mouth and gulp them down, before the vendor places the next puri on your plate. You have to eat them immediately as otherwise the delicate puris burst with the weight of everything inside them.
If I could, I would make them at home all the time, but the main hassle is the puris. I have made them from scratch before, but it takes time and patience and a lot of oil. Plus they get over in minutes after all that work.
One of my finds during the last days of holiday shopping was a pani puri ‘kit’ from a middle-eastern store here. I could hardly wait for all the holiday food to get over, before cracking it open.
I made my own chutneys and spiced water and used the puris from the kit. It was too spicy for the munchkin, but the husband and I had a wonderful time… filling, dunking, chomping… sheer deliciousness!
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- 1½ cups chopped Mint leaves
- ½ cup chopped Cilantro
- 2 inch piece Ginger
- 6 large cloves Garlic
- 4 to 5 Green Chillies
- 1 teaspoon Cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon Black Salt (optional)
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup Dates, de-seeded
- 2 tablespoons Tamarind pulp
- ½ cup grated Jaggery
- ½ teaspoon Red Chilli powder
- Salt to taste
- 30 Puris
- ½ cup Mung bean sprouts
- ½ cup chopped boiled Potatoes
- ¼ cup salted Boondi (optional)
- Combine all the ingredients except the black salt in a blender with a little water to make a smooth paste.
- Transfer the paste to a bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons to serve as a Green Chutney for extra spiciness.
- To the rest of the paste, add a liter of water and the black salt, if using. Adjust salt and refrigerate till ready to serve.
- Wash the dates and place them in a saucepan.
- Add the tamarind pulp, jaggery, chilli powder, salt and 1 cup of water and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Add ½ cup more water if it becomes too dry
- Cool and strain the mixture through a sieve. You can also process it in a blender to a fine paste.
- Store refrigerated till ready to serve.
- Crack a small hole in the centre of each puri.
- Fill with some sprouts, a bit of boiled potato and some boondi, if using.
- Then top with a little date & tamarind chutney.
- For those who like it extra spicy, add a bit of the reserved green chutney.
- Dunk the puri in the chilled pani and eat immediately.
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