Asian Mash-Up: Pani Puri

pani puri

Our Asian Mash-Up feast began with humble appearing Pani Puri.  Pani Puri are an example of South Indian chaat, street food snacks.  The puri are the fried dough puffs, and pani means water.  The waters are spiced chutneys, in this case, a tomato water and a tamarind based water (these are in the clear Solo containers).  Pani puri are eaten by poking a hole into the top of the puri, and filling in with desired amounts of the fillings (counterclockwise from top), followed by pouring on the pani:

sev, red onion, spiced potatoes, cilantro

Each bite yields a delicate crunch and a burst of flavor.

All recipes are from Chef Nalin, unless otherwise noted.

Mango-Tomato Chaat

Finely cut mango halves into small cubes

Finely cut heirloom tomatoes into small cubes

Small amount of finely diced red onion

Chaat masala, chili powder, aamchoor, cumin, coriander, salt

Let drain, and then refrigerate

Pani Puri Chaat

Potatoes – 1-2 medium sized ones

Green chilli – 1 finely chopped (optional)

Red chilli powder – 1 tsp

Cumin/jeera powder – 1 tsp

Chaat masala – a pinch (use more)

Salt

Sev

Onion – 1 finely chopped

Coriander leaves – as needed (finely chopped)

Preparation

Pressure cook potatoes, peel the skin and mash it well. Add finely chopped green chillies, red chilli powder, cumin powder, chaat masala, salt needed and mix well.

Variant 1: Pani

From www.padhuskitchen.com

Ice cold water – 3 cups

Green chutney – 3 tbsp

Sweet chutney (dates tamarind chutney) – 2 tbsp

Chilli powder – 1 tsp

Chaat masala powder- 1 1/2 tsp

Roasted Cumin/jeera powder -1 tsp (dry roast cumins seeds and powder it)

Variant 2: from Shinku (Nalin’s cousin):

Cut 1 green mango. Boil it in water with a green chili if you want spicy.

In the blender, put  20-30 leaves of mint, 1/2 a bunch of fresh cilantro, cumin, black salt, regular salt, and some of the green mango mixture. Grind well. Add remaining green mango mixture and grind everything. Add tamarind chutney. It is ready made and available at Indian stores. Add water, salt, lemon juice, amchoor as needed.

Tamarind Chutney (aka Imli Chutney)

2 tbsp tamarind concentrate

2 cups water

1/2 cup jaggery or sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp red chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1. Boil 2 cups water in pot. Add in the tamarind paste and mix well so that no lumps form.

2. Add the jaggery next and reduce heat to medium.

3. When mixture has reduced to about half a cup, add the ground cumin powder, salt and red chili powder. Keep stirring the chutney. When the chutney nicely coats the spatula, then you know it is ready. Remove from flame.

Essence of Tomatoes

(from Running With Tweezers)

5 pounds large cherry or small roma vine-ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 stick celery , finely chopped

1 small cucumber, peeled and finely chopped

1 small shallot , finely chopped

half of a fennel bulb, finely chopped

1 small garlic clove , finely chopped

2 sprigs thyme , roughly chopped

handful basil leaves, roughly chopped

Procedures

In a food processor, pulse the tomato mix in batches until roughly chopped, add salt, cover and marinate overnight

Place three layers of cheesecloth (or a new kitchen cloth) over a large bowl and pour the mix into the cloth. Tie up with string and hang in a cold place for several hours over the bowl to collect the tomato essence. Taste and correct the seasoning, if necessary, then cool in the fridge. Add smoked cumin.

This is part of the Asian Mash-Up menu, presented by Chef Nalin.

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6 thoughts on “Asian Mash-Up: Pani Puri

  1. The recipes are all out class……I have never made these things by myself…always had them from market but with these recipes in hand i am thinking of making them at home. Lovely.

  2. Chaat can be a technique, rather than a specific dish. If you look at the ‘classic’ chaat dishes, they blend together spices (in this case in the puri), along with a base (puri), and then a contrasting flavor (the imlee, or tamarind). The further refinement of the pani puri which I like a lot is that that there is also a contrast in textures between the crunchy puri, the wet pani, and the solid fillings. I think the whole idea of chaat is to create a clash, although harmonious, of flavors. The mango chaat I did was a rip-off from a starter I had at a local Indian restaurant, Roti. They used the mango as the sweet base, and then combined it with tomato (neutral base), and spices mixed in. I think their version was better, but not sure exactly what they did differently.

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