Monday, March 3, 2014

Pani Puri

This is a fun one! It may not be a recipe that you can implement unless you're in this part of the world or you have an Indian grocery store in your vicinity. My family loves Indian food, even the street snacks, and while my husband with his stomach of steel can actually come out unscathed after eating from a pani puri cart, I fear that I would not. That means I basically never get to eat these fun snacks. On top of that, even those sanitary restaurants serving them tend to make theirs on the side of too spicy for my children. I was introduced to the possibility of making these at a friend Esther's home and have been looking for the puris ever since, while trolling Padhus Kitchen for ideas. You can buy them ready-made in some bakeries, but here's a little packet you can make at home. You will find these usually in the section with lentils, uncooked papad packets, and little fryable things that look like pasta. The unfried puris look something like this.

Pani Puri
500g potatoes, peeled and chopped
1-2 green chilies, seeds removed and chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder
Pinch of chaat masala (or some black salt)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 bunch fresh coriander/cilantro, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
Sev or bhujia (little crunchies)
3/4 cups sprouted moong dal or cooked chickpeas (optional)
1/2 packet unfried puris or 1 bag ready-made puri
Jal Jira masala

Boil potatoes until fork tender. While they are boiling, heat 1-2 inches of oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Drop the heat to medium, and add a few of the unfried puris at a time. They will puff, but you'll need to turn them to cook both sides. Once puffed and brown, remove from oil and drain on a paper towel. Mash the cooked potatoes, adding the green chilies, chili powder, cumin powder, chaat masala, onion, and cilantro. Add the salt to season, starting with just shy of 1 teaspoon. Add more until the potatoes have enough flavor to stand on their own. According to packet directions, mix the jal jira masala in drinking water. You'll want to make at least 250 ml for this many puris. The little unfried puri packet actually comes with its own water masala that you add to 1/2 liter of water.

It's a messy job, but when you are ready to eat, assemble like this:
  1. Take a fried puri and poke a small hole in it with your finger. 
  2. Poke some of the potato mixture into the hole. Fingers seem to work best here...see why the street version can be ugh! 
  3. If desired, poke in some chickpeas or sprouts and some of the bhujia.
  4. Finally, dip the stuffed puri into the spiced water mixture so it gets a little pool inside. 
  5. Pop into your mouth and repeat.
There you have it! Street food under sanitary conditions. And no, I would never go through all this trouble for a snack. We ate it for lunch.

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