If you like Indian street food, then you surely heard of pani puri. Known under many different names in different parts of the country, pani puri is one of the rare Indian street food snacks that are popular across the country. In this post, we’ll share the traditional pani puri recipe and teach you everything there is to know about this beloved Indian snack.
But first things first…
What Is Pani Puri?
Pani puri is a popular Indian snack that consists of crispy dough balls (puri) stuffed with a filling made of potatoes, chickpeas, tomatoes, and other spices dipped in tangy, spicy water (pani). The crispy dough balls, spicy water, and tasty filling account for seemingly contrasting but delicious flavors that will make your tastebuds dance in joy.
The traditional pani puri recipe is popular across India but there are some regional variations known under different names (as you’ll see later in this article). This snack can be found in almost every corner of India, from the big cities to the smallest villages. Pani puri is also a must-have during many local festivals, especially Holi when it’s consumed alongside other chaat dishes (like ghugni chaat, aloo chaat, or khichdi).
How Does It Taste Like?
If I have to describe the flavor of pani puri, I’d say it’s a beautiful mix of savory, (slightly) sweet, mouth-watering, and piquant. The dough balls give a nice crunchy texture, the filling gives a taste of spicy and savory while the spiced water adds a touch of sweetness to the mix, rounding up the unique flavor of this delicious snack.
History Of Pani Puri
Unfortunately, the inventor of this culinary masterpiece has been lost in the pages of history. Today, there are several theories about the origin of pani puri but none of them are widely accepted as true. It is most likely that pani puri originated somewhere in the 16th century in the area surrounding the banks of the Ganges. At the time, this area was a part of the Magadhan empire and today, it covers part of the states Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Many historical sources point to the fact that chaat is considered to be a predecessor of the pani puri recipe.
However, it wasn’t until the late-19th and early-20th centuries until pani puri started becoming popular in other Indian states. After the partition of India in 1947, more people started migrating across the country for economic reasons and as this was happening, pani puri started gaining popularity to the point that today, you can find pani puri stands pretty much anywhere.
Across India, you’ll find speakers of close to 20,000 different languages (22 of which are official). Therefore, it comes as no surprise that in different parts of India the pani puri recipe is known under different names. In most states, people refer to this snack as Pani Puri but there are exceptions.
For example, in Uttar Pradesh it’s known as ‘pani ke batashe’, in Haryana it’s called ‘paani patashi’, in the south-central states (i.e. Jharkand, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana, and Chattisgarh) this dish is called ‘gup-chup’, in Gujarat, they call it ‘pakodi’, while in Bengal, Bihar, and most of the eastern states and Nepal, people refer to this snack as ‘phucka/phuska’. Last but not least, in some northern parts of India (mostly Punjab and Delhi), you’ll often hear people saying ‘gol gappa’.
However, most foreigners know this snack as pani puri and the word ‘pani puri’ was added to the Oxford English Dictionary to describe this popular Indian snack.
As you can see, the names might be different in many different states but the essence of the pani puri recipe remains the same with some slight modifications. For example, people in West Bengal make pani puri from whole-wheat flour (instead of a mix of semolina and whole-wheat) and the size of the puri is slightly bigger compared to other states. In Delhi, the spiced water is often prepared with mint leaves instead of tamarind. Also, people in different parts of the country add some local herbs or spices to the filling and you should feel free to do the same, especially if you’re not able to find some of the ingredients for this recipe.
Before serving, you should assemble the pani puri. To do this, take a teaspoon and crack a hole on the top. You can also do this by using your thumb or index finger. After this, add a teaspoon of the filling and a teaspoon from the spiced water and serve immediately in a small bowl. Pani puri is usually eaten as a whole at once. Don’t try to take a bite because the water will spill and you’ll probably make a mess of yourself.
If you want to, you can also store pani puri for the next day. You can even keep pani puri for up to 3-4 days but if you plan to do this, use airtight containers. Otherwise, the pani puri will get soggy and soft.
- Prepare the spiced water before you make the filling and chill it in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the recipe. The black salt is not necessary for the spiced water but I suggest you use it because it gives the water its unique flavor.
- If you have club soda, use this instead of normal water.
- When making the dough, try to make it as soft as possible (almost as soft as dough for chapati bread).
- When you’re done kneading, don’t forget to cover the dough with a damp cloth and don’t let it get dry.
- Make sure the dough rests for at least 30 minutes. In the meantime, you can proceed to make the filling.
- Roll the dough as evenly as you can. Try to make it thin but not too thin because the dough balls might break.
- If you have a tortilla maker or a press, you can use this to prepare the puris.
- Last but not least, be careful about the temperature of the oil when frying the puris. The oil has to be so hot that the dough balls will start flowing immediately. Once the oil reaches that temperature, switch to medium and cook the puris at this temperature.
- Another important thing is not to stack the fried puri on top of each other because the dripping oil might make them soggy. Instead, keep them next to each other on a tray. This leads me to one of the most frequently asked questions about making pani puri…
Why Is My Pani Puri Not Crunchy?
Primarily, there are two main reasons for this:
- The puris you are using are stale and may have become soggy.
- You kept the spiced water in the pani puri for too long. The water needs to be added right before eating, you shouldn’t add the water and keep the pani puri like that.
If the puris are slightly soggy but not stale, you can fix this problem by preheating them in the oven for 5-10 minutes.
Pani Puri Alternative Stuffings
Here are some of my favorite alternative stuffing ideas for pani puri:
- Boiled chickpeas
- Boiled potatoes
- Chopped onions
- White peas curry (ragda)
- Steamed moong sprouts
- Chopped coriander/cilantro leaves
Other Indian Street Food Recipes
A Few Things You May Need For This Recipe
- 1 Cup Semolina Flour
- 3 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
- 3 Tablespoons Oil
- 1/3 Cup Water
- One 5-inch Slice Tamarind
- 1 Cup Warm Water
- 3 Cups Cold Water
- 2 and ½ Tablespoons Jaggery
- 1 and ½ Teaspoon Chaat Masala
- 1 and ½ Teaspoon Salt
- 1 and ½ Teaspoon Cumin Powder
- 3 Green Chilies, ground
- One 3-inch Slice Ginger
- 1 Teaspoon Black Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
- 1 Pinch Tartaric Acid
- 2 Cups Cooked Chickpeas
- 4 Potatoes, boiled and mashed
- 2 Onions, minced
- 1 Tablespoon Cilantro, chopped
- Oil for deep-frying
1. Boil the potatoes and white chickpeas for the filling.
2. In the meantime, cut the onions and cilantro and keep them aside.
3. Soak the tamarind in lukewarm water for 8-9 minutes.
4. While the filling ingredients are boiling, move to the puris.
5. Start by combining the semolina and all-purpose flour in a large bowl, and add a little bit of oil.
6. Mix well until the semolina turns moist and the mixture starts looking like crumbles.
7. Add hot water and start kneading (for at least 7-8 minutes). The dough should be neither too hard nor too soft.
8. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
9. In the meantime, proceed to make the spiced water and paste.
10. Squeeze the tamarind in the water and strain the mixture into a bowl.
11. Add the jaggery, cumin powder, chaat masala, salt, black salt, and ground pepper and stir well.
12. Add the remaining cups of water and stir after adding every cup.
13. Take the cilantro, ginger, chilies, and remaining tamarind and grind them in a food processor.
14. Add the paste to the bowl and add some salt, chaat masala, cumin powder, and a little bit of water, and stir well.
15. Store it in the fridge together with the water.
16. Take the potatoes and chickpeas out and mush them.
17. After 30 minutes, start dividing the dough into small balls.
18. Add some oil or cooking spray on a clean surface and start rolling the dough balls to a thin, round shape.
19. Aim for small round shapes with a diameter not bigger than 2 and ½ inches. You can use a cookie cutter for this purpose.
20. Add enough oil for deep frying and pre-heat it at a high temperature.
21. Test to see if the dough ball floats when added to the oil. If that’s the case, decrease the temperature to medium.
22. The oil shouldn’t be too hot because the puris might burn but it shouldn’t be lukewarm either because in that case, the puris might be too greasy. The temperature is key- observe how the puris react when being added into the oil and act accordingly.
23. Flip and fry the puris until they get a golden color.
24. Remove the puris and keep them on a kitchen paper towel, next to each other (not on top of each other).
25. Have the filling and spiced water ready.
26. Make a small hole in the puri (dough ball).
27. Add the filling in the hole and serve the puris alongside the pani.
28. Before eating, dip the stuffed puri in the spiced water and pop it in your mouth right away.
29. Repeat the previous step (#28) as many times as you want and enjoy!
Don’t roll out the entire dough at once. This way, you may have uneven spots of thickness. You can try by dividing the dough into 4 parts; rolling a smaller part of the dough will be easier to roll without leaving any uneven spots.
If by any chance any of your puris are soggy after frying, just keep it on a dry napkin for a few minutes and put it in the oven for 5-10 minutes and your problem will be solved.
Serving Size:1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 21Total Fat: 0.9gSaturated Fat: 0.9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 55mgCarbohydrates: 4gNet Carbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 1.5gProtein: 1.5g
Did you ever try pani puri? Do you find it easy to make pani puri at home? If you tried our pani puri recipe and liked it, don’t forget to leave us a rating. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below.
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