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.
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)
Onion – 1 finely chopped
Coriander leaves – as needed (finely chopped)
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
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
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.
Shruti Mohandas @aspoonfulofyumm:
@spiceboxtravels i love adding pomegranate to that. vodka is good too 😉
Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan @cheryltan88:
This looks amazing! I want to eat with you again!
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.
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.
Have you ever added vodka, as @aspponfulofyumm recommends above?
Never added vodka! That sounds deeply dangerous.