Friday, April 22, 2011

Pani Puri ~ The Pop Indian Sreet Food

If there is a competition to eat Pani Puri, I am confident I would beat any of of the self assured obliging contenders! So powerful is the love which permeates beyond words, expressions and emotions. Pani-Puri is the popular Indian street food. This spicy, tangy treat is known as Golguppe in Hindi, Pucchka in Bengali. The taste and flavour vary in heat, tang-ness as one moves to different parts of India. There are also some popular chaat vendors which get outrageous number of visitors not because of the jazzy names and showy seating areas which they promise, but purely for the taste which no other vendor can neither promise nor deliver. Some really famous ones which I can say I have proudly visited are - Elco Arcade, Bandra - Mumbai and Madhavan Park, Jayanagar - Bangalore. The one in Elco Arcade also serves Pani Puri with mineral water on demand to serve the taste buds of noveau rich and hygiene conscious crowd.

The "Puri" in question here is the humble spherical delicate pastry spheres made of Semolina and Flour. The "Pani" which is spicy, tangy and sweet water concocted with various herbs and condiments only to compel you to beg for more of this great street food. One look at any Chaat cart would compel you to retrace your steps back home, but hold on! That's the beauty of Chaat! You got to eat the flour shells filled with tangy syrup right from the Chaat cart, these tiny speherical Puris get stuffed one by one with boiled Mung, spices Potato bits, yoghurt for that extra kick of tang, Sev to add the extra crisp. After all the additions of various knick-knacks, the Chaat bhayya will ask you - Teekha ya Meetha? This simply means spicy or sweet in Hindi. Give your prized choice and pop comes the Puri in the leafy container handed over to you. Explosion of flavours in your mouth satiating the meanest taste buds. You convince your palate to stop with one and you just cannot!

In India, although we had the liberty to eat out from the chaat stalls more often that not, Mom would make them at home in leisure. Her version easily beats the road side ones - I have to confess. Yet, busy lives, hectic jobs, meeting a bunch of friends - a chaat session was warranted. In US, I have to travel couple of miles to eat chaat battling wind chill and occasional snow; I am well off trying my experiments in my humble kitchen and get the experience of eating these yummy Puris to my hearts content if time's not a constraint. I follow my Mom's recipe since it is quite simple and can be planned well ahead of time. She adds plenty of ice cubes to the Pani, which makes it even more appealing and fresh. I follow the same notes that she followed and the final taste has never disappointed me. If lazy, use Puri and Sweet chutney available at Indian grocers.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Processing time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2

Pani -
Coriander leaves (packed) - 1 cup
Mint leaves (packed) - 1/2 cup
Amchur powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Chaat Masala - 1 and 1/2 tablespoon
Red Chilli powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Lime juice - 2 tablespoon

Puri -
Sooji - 1/2 cup
Maida - as per the dough requirement

Sweet Chutney -
Dates (pitted) - 8-10
Jaggery - 2 tablespoon
Cumin powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Black salt (kala namak) - 1/2 teaspoon

For Serving:
Sev - 5-8 tablespoon
Yoghurt - 2-3 tablespoon
Boiled Mung beans - 3-4 tablespoon
Onions (chopped) - 1-4 tablespoon
Potatoes (diced into small cubes) - 1/2 cup

For the Pani - Grind coriander leaves, mint leaves with 1/2 cup of water. Do not add too much water as it needs to be concentrated in nature. Once done, add Amchur powder and Chaat Masala. Adjust spice level and salt. Add lime juice is required. Once done, add ice cubes and refrigerate till serving.
For the Puri - Take 1/2 cup of Sooji in a mixing bowl. Add enough water & salt to submerge the flour, keep adding the flour till the dough forms a soft pliable consistency which is easy enough to handle. Make small Puris and fry in batches of 8-10 until golden and crisp. Store in an air tight container.
For Sweet Chutney - Grind all the ingredients to a thick paste. Store in refrigerator, use as required.
For Potatoes - Mash and mix with red chilli powder and salt. Keep aside.
For Assembly - Pat the lighter side of Puri to make a dent. Stuff with potatoes, onions, sev, yoghurt (optional) and add Sweet chutney. Add enough Pani and plonk it in your mouth. Enjoy the savoury snack.


  1. Universal favourite... delicious..

  2. @ Revathi - Thanks. It's my all time favorite street food!


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