This one’s not for the sake of any recipe or for any dish, Pani puri is an experience!
Pani puri is an emotion. It is an unmatchable one at that!
You have to feel it to believe it. Feel the entire experience of crunching down into one whole puri in your mouth. You will be converted in an instant. Into a life member of the prestigious Pani Puri Lovers Club!
Now don’t you trivialize this or mock me for my words, for I am proud to say that when I venture into any new territory of the city in which I live / any new Indian city that I visit, it is first researched & verified in terms of the number of PP vendors in the area, the various corners at which they stand to sell their wares, the unique flavouring & concentration of the spicy pani/water they prepare and then most importantly, whether they give that so-called ‘FREE SUKHA/DRY PURI’ at the end or not. Once certified, then I’m free to attend to my actual business that I’ve come for.
I was first introduced to Pani Puri by my chaat-loving Mom at the age of five, on the streets of Mumbai, post a Bollywood movie in some theatre, or a visit to my favourite neighbourhood park or then just a visit to our corner PP wala, just for the sake of eating Panipuri. You see each area in Mumbai has its own famous street vendor, so it would be very difficult for me to be able to compare one to another.
Ramkrishna Mission, Punjab Sweet House, Kailash Parbat, Elco at Hill Road, the erstwhile Vithal Bhelwala, Fort or then Breach Candy…I simply cannot choose one over another. Every single one of them must be given credit for having satiated my cravings on every single trip to Mumbai when visiting some friend or relative. In fact, shopping is often planned around it like an annual pilgrimage, so to speak. That’s why I say emotion. It is, for me atleast!
Small round crunchy spherical wheat flour puris, stuffed with an interestingly spiced mashed potato-onion mixture and then dunked into a unique combination of chilled flavoured waters-a spicy tangy minty-green chutney one as well as a sweet-sour date & tamarind one to perfectly balance out the flavours for your palate! Exotic combinations of Indian spices at its best to ensure optimum taste & digestion too, in case of over eating!
And the puris are probably India’s ancient answer to new age molecular gastronomy. Crackling spheres of icy cold tangy liquid that go crackly-crunch as you bite into them & oooh! out oozes a mad riot of innumerable flavours that compel you to close your eyes and grasp the intensity of the overall experience! With all of your senses, mind you!
Then comes the frenzy of speed-eating the puris, faster than the vendor can fill them for you, your eyes watering up just that lil bit with the spice levels. But what’s Pani puri without the watery eyes & nose? All a part and parcel of this must-have gastronomic experience. After all, the clean, sanitized ones we make at home never do taste quite the same as any street vendor’s do……have you ever wondered why? Do let me know what you think.
Anyway peeps, that’s our early dinner menu for tonight which I was truly keen to share with you virtually, so all of you can at least feast your eyes on it for tonight. I also know some of you crazy PP lovers like me, who will rush out tomorrow morning to plan yours for the impending weekend dinner.
Ciao for now, until then, why judge another for what they do to keep their sanity? Stay positive and safe yourself. Mask up. Let’s do whatever we can to stay cool and sane – paint, cook, read… or make Pani Puri shots at HOME!
Recipe For Meri Wali Pani Puri
for spicy tangy pani/water:
- ¾ cup mint leaves / pudina
- 1 cup coriander leaves / kothmir
- 1 inch ginger, peeled & chopped
- 2 green chillies, chopped or as per your taste
- 3 teaspoons jaggery
- 2-3 tbsp tamarind paste
- 1 cup ice cubes
- 2 teaspoons roasted cumin powder / jeera powder
- ½ teaspoon chaat masala
- 1 pinch asafoetida / hing powder
- 3 glasses cold water
- ½ teaspoon black salt
- regular salt to taste
- ¼ cup fried boondi to garnish
for sweet sour chutney / water:
- 1 lemon size ball tamarind, soaked /½ cup tamarind paste
- 6 dates, deseeded & chopped
- ½ cup jaggery or basically double that of the tamarind if not using dates
- 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder / jeera powder
- ¼ teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
- Salt to taste
- 3 cups water
for the potato / aloo stuffing:
- 3 potatoes, boiled & mashed
- ¼ cup boiled green moong
- 1 small onion, finely chopped (optional)
- 2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons roasted cumin powder/jeera powder
- ½ teaspoon black salt
- ½ teaspoon chaat masala
- ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder / dhania powder
- ½ teaspoon dry mango powder / amchur powder
- ¼ teaspoon dehydrated pomegranate powder /anardana powder
- Salt to taste if required
Spicy green pani:
- In a small blender jar, blend together fresh mint & coriander leaves, 1 inch ginger, 2 chillies, black salt, ice cubes, jaggery.
- Grind to a smooth paste, adding water as required.
- Transfer into a large bowl, add spice powders cumin powder, chaat masala & asafoetida, salt to taste and 2 glasses of cold water. Now add the tamarind paste at the end, else it will darken the pretty green water too early.
- Mix well, check for taste & add more water if too spicy. Your spicy water is ready. Keep aside in the fridge until ready to eat. Garnish with fried boondi just before serving
Sweet sour chutney:
- In a large bowl take the soaked ball of tamarind & 2 cups water & strain the extract to obtain pure pulp.
- In a deep saucepan, add the tamarind extract, deseeded dates, jaggery, cumin powder, chilli powder, salt to taste and 3 cups water. Boil for 15 minutes on medium flame, allowing the dates to cook, soften & thicken, stirring off & on.
- Once fully cooked, take it off the flame, allow it to cool & then blend until smooth. Add water to reach the desired consistency. Check for salt.
- Mix well. Your sweet n sour tamarind date chutney is ready.
Spiced Potato stuffing:
- In a small bowl, mash 3 boiled potatoes, boiled green moong, chopped onion and coriander leaves. Mix well to combine & add spice powders and salt to taste. Your aloo stuffing is ready.
Assembling pani puri for serving:
- Make a small hole with your thumb in the centre of each fluffed puri.
- Add 1 tbsp of aloo stuffing into each puri.
- Add 1 tbsp of sweet tangy water & then dip into the spicy green water.
- Else you could also mix some sweet chutney into the green water & dip into just one bowl. Enjoy your ice cold chilled pani puri!