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Pani Puri: The Humble Street Food That Has Legions Of Fans In Every Corner Of India
You can easily make mouth-watering pani puris at home
You can call it by any name but its sight is enough to make you go weak on your knees. Pani puri, golgappa, phuchka or gupchup, different states have different names for this street food, but its popularity is unmatched across the country, and across people of all ages.
The burst of spices and flavours in your mouth, the minute you gobble a pani puri, is sheer joy. What makes this snack so appealing is that you can have it anytime of the day, round the year, and in countless ways. While some like their pani puri tangy, others like it spicy and some others a little sweet. It all depends on the stuffing, which usually comprises mashed potatoes, boiled chickpeas, and the flavoured water. The water can be slightly sweet or tangy and usually consists of tamarind, pudina and jal zeera.
Once you have a pani puri, you make a hole, fill it up with the potato-chickpea mixture, add a bit of tamarind or pudina chutney and dunk it in the flavoured water. The fun is to have it in one go. You can also choose between atta (wheat flour) or sooji (semolina) pani puris.
Legend has it that a version of the humble pani puri with wheat dough and some leftover vegetables was first made by Draupadi when the Pandavas were in exile. Some historians, however, believe that pani puri is a more recent invention because its key ingredients, chilli and potato, were introduced in India only a few centuries ago.
Talking to BBC, culinary anthropologist Dr Kurush Dalal says “chaat (likely a predecessor of the modern pani puri) was first created in what is now the northern Indian region of Uttar Pradesh around the time of Emperor Shah Jahan’s rule in the late 17th century.”
What are instant pani puris?
While you can always make the puris from scratch, for those looking to save time, the instant variety is easy to use. If you want to make pani puris in bulk, there are packs that come with nearly 100 small ready-to-fry wheat discs. You just need to put these discs in oil and they take the shape of crispy pani puris in seconds.
Some packs also come with concentrated versions of the flavoured water—add them to a jar of water, mix them well, and tangy and sweet flavoured water is ready. You can prepare the stuffing as per your liking and serve it with some sev and dahi.