Lunch today was a new and wonderful experience for me. Somehow, despite having lived in India for twelve years, I never witnessed or experienced Pani Puri during that time. Pani Puri is more than just a bite to eat. It is indeed an experience. It is an activity with a specific procedure which is an intense sensory event that transcends taste.
Ever since learning about it I have been fascinated by and eager to try Pani Puri. The last time I visited an Indian grocery store I made a point of picking up a package of readymade mini puri puffs.
The necessary components of Pani Puri are: the puri puff, the spicy filling and the pani, which is a spicy flavored water (pani literally means water in Hindi). The procedure for eating the Pani Puri is:
- poke a small hole in the puri puff
- stuff it with filling
- in one motion dip the entire stuffed puri into the pani in a scooping motion which fills the puri with the flavored water
- pop the entire drenched and liquid filled puri into your mouth
If liquid isn’t running down your chin I suspect you aren’t experiencing full enjoyment potential, which is more than just the burst of flavors. The gush of liquid exploding in the mouth is part of the sensory pleasure.
The filling I made consisted of:
- mustard seeds
- cumin seeds
- chopped curry leaves
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- boiled potatoes
- Malabar spinach
- chaat masala (homemade and store-bought)
- black salt
- garam masala
The pani was made with:
- roasted cumin seeds
- fresh mint leaves
- tamarind paste
- whole green cayenne peppers, including seeds (X4)
- chaat masala
- ground coriander
- lime juice
- black salt
- black pepper
After blending the above ingredients I strained the liquid.
Rather than use the “dip and scoop” method, we used a ladle to fill the stuffed puris to overflowing with the delicious pani.