Where do I start with describing Pani-puri?
‘Pani‘ literally means ‘water’ and ‘Puris’ in this case, are deep-fried, puffed up crisp dough-balls. In this dish, these puris, along with some other fillings, are filled with spicy water one by one and eaten whole immediately. No one knows when, where and how Pani-puri was invented but we Indians thank God everyday that it happened in India. Atleast I do..He He! This dish goes by many names across the different parts in India. Some of them are….‘Golgappe’, ‘Phuchka’ and ‘Pani-batashe’.
This street-side dish is loved tooooo much along the length and breadth of India.When the ‘Pani-puriwale bhaiya’ (the street-vendor) is serving these divine little puris one after the other, I go on eating till my stomach is bursting! Back when I was in college, me and my friends often used to have competition to see who can eat maximum Pani-puris at one go.
In India, everyone usually goes out to the street vendors or the snack-shops to enjoy Pani-puri. Even if one decides to make it at home, you easily get ready-made puri packets in the supermarkets and you just have to prepare the spicy water and the various fillings yourself. Now, here in Ireland, we get nothing except for the Haldiram (a popular Indian brand) packs of ready-to-eat Pani-puri at the Indian store and after some months, hubby and I got bored of the same taste over and over again. So, I decided to make everything at home from scratch, something which I could never ever dream of doing while in India. I mean, making Pani-puri at home from scratch?????? Who does that??????
Usually puris are of round or oval shape but in the spirit of the upcoming Valentines Day, I made some heart-shaped ones too! They came out so gorgeous that I didn’t even want to break them at first.
Needless to say, mastering this dish at home is a bit tricky during the first attempts but it is definitely a healthier option for your family. You can customize the fillings and once you have the puris prepared, everything else is a breeze.
Give this recipe a go at the earliest and enjoyyyyyy!!!! …I LOVEEE PANI-PURIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!
For the home-made Puris:
1/4 cup Plain flour (Maida)
1 cup fine Sooji (Semolina) Do not use coarse Sooji!!
1/2 cup lukewarm water
A pinch of salt
A pinch of baking soda
For the tangy water-
1 cup mint leaves
1-2 green chillies
3 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp black salt
1 tbsp roasted cumin powder
1 tbsp sugar
2-3 cups chilled water
Salt to taste
For sweet, tamarind chutney-
-225 grams tamarind, deseeded and soaked overnight
-1 cup sugar
-3 tbsn broken jaggery
2 tsp roasted ground cumin seeds
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black salt
1 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ginger powder
Other things needed-
1 cup of boiled and chopped potatoes for the filling.
Some boondi for the water, soaked in warm water for 10 mins and then squeezed to get rid of the absorbed water.
Round or heart-shaped cookie cutter.
For the puris:
-In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and semolina.
-Add water little by little to make a medium-firm dough. Not too firm, as the sooji/semolina absorbs water to make it more firm in texture when you keep it aside later. Knead the dough until it gets glutinous.<– This is very important! Cover the dough with a damp cloth for about ten minutes.
-Divide the dough in three parts. Roll them one by one between your palms so that you get three smooth circles. Keep them under a damp cloth.
-Start by rolling the first one with a rolling pin into a circle and make it as thin as you can. When you get a paper thin round sheet of dough, take a round cookie cutter or a cap of any bottle with the apt size, and cut circles out of your dough sheet. If you still feel that they are a bit thick, you can again use the rolling pin on them after cutting out the circles. For the heart-shaped puris that I have made, simply use a heart shape cookie-cutter to cut the shapes instead of the circles. Arrange all the puris between two damp cloths in rows, so that they do not dry out.
-Heat the oil on medium-low heat. It should not be too hot like we use for pooris. To test the oil, put a little piece of dough in the oil. The oil is ready if the dough comes up after a few seconds and does not change color.
-Start frying the puris. Put one puri in the oil and press lightly. When it puffs, immediately turn over and put another puri in the oil. Keep adding 5-6 puris at a time. Fry the puris on medium-low,turning a few times, until they are golden-brown all around. You may have to adjust the heat as needed while frying. They should be crisp and definitely puff like a ball. They should not be dark brown in color or that will mean that they have burnt!
-Take the puris out and place over paper towel, so the excess oil is absorbed. When taking the puris out of the frying pan, make sure to tilt them over the edge of your pot so that the excess oil is drained before you take them out, otherwise your puris will be oily and will also have an oily odor.
-Repeat the steps 3-6 with the remaining two sections of the dough to make all the puris.
As soon as the puris come to the room temperature, keep them in the air-tight container or they will be at the risk of going soggy. Your cooled puris should be so crispy that when you tap the upper covering of a puri in the middle with your finger, the surface should just snap to make a tiny hole.
Your puris are ready!
For the sweet tamarind chutney:
-Mash the tamarind into the same water that you soaked it in overnight and strain. Press the tamarind into the strainer with your hand to remove all the pulp. You will get a smooth tamarind paste in the utensil below. Discard the residue left behind in the strainer.
-Put the tamarind paste into a pan and put on low heat, stirring frequently.
-Add all the remaining ingredients and let it simmer for around 6-7 minutes. The jaggery and sugar will get dissolved well in the paste in this period. Adjust the sugar and salt according to your desired taste.
-Switch off the gas and let the chutney cool. Your sweet tamarind chutney is ready!
For the tangy water:
-Blend everything except the water together to make a fine paste. While blending, add little water as needed to blend. The resulting paste should be spicier as it will be diluted with the water later. Adjust the quantities of the mentioned ingredients as per your desired taste.
-Add the remaining water to your spicy, tangy paste and again, adjust according to your taste. Add the soaked boondi as well. ‘Paani’ for your pani-puri is ready!
-Make a small hole in each puri.
-Fill the puri partially with the boiled and chopped potatoes first, and the tamarind chutney on top of them.
-Finish by filling the puri with the spicy water to the brim and immediately pop it whole in your mouth. Enjoy the explosion of flavors and textures!