We don’t miss anything in life right now as much as the chaat wala outside our office. Our parents, who live in another city, workmates we’ve seen only on video calls and friends we’re dying to meet and chill with – we miss all of them dearly. But still, we miss our mid-evening break; looking for the perfect opportunity to rush out of the building and head to the nearest pani puri stall outside Lower Parel station to dig into the sweet-and-sour flavours of the perfect evening snack and the cornershop near our house that used to serve sukha bhel or papdi chaat.
Please don’t judge us, we know you secretly miss it, too. The cruelest thing about the Coronavirus pandemic, according to us, is that even if we find our way in the new normal, because of the health and sanitization-related risks around it, street food is going to be a distant dream for the foreseeable future.
As much as we dream of waking up to find ourselves outside that pani puri kiosk, waiting eagerly for our turn to experience the explosion of flavours and textures, yelling repeatedly to ensure that the chaatwala has got your preference right - “meetha kam, teekha zyada,” our heart knows, this is a reality, far-fetched. Until then, we’ve decided to make do with making it ourselves, so at least the cravings can be satiated, if not the heart.
And if we’re going to make pani puri ourselves (from scratch), we might as well turn things up a notch. So, here are a few trendy pani puri variants, plus recipes for puris, masala and pani, for you to try inside the comfort of your home and a sanitised kitchen.
Mastering pani puri water
Most would agree that the true fun of pani puri, gol gappe and phuchka, whatever you call it, lies in the pani. Made using a tamarind base, this water forms the soul of pani puri and everyone has their own preference – some like it sweet, others starkly spicy. Watch how chef Ranveer Brar makes three different versions of pani puri water.
Health bhi, taste bhi
Though healthier than most other deep-fried snacks, like kachori and samosa, it is possible to give your pani puri a healthier twist. Chef Emmanuel Chauhan gives the mouthwatering treat a cool new spin, with the addition of pomegranate and jalapeno giving it a solid kick.
Pani puri masala
Despite several trials, does your homemade pani puri still fail to taste as good as it does at the street-side stall? We get it. The trick lies in perfecting the spice mix that goes into your pani puri stuffing, and which can be used to sprinkle on other fave treats, too. Here’s what you need to make that perfect pani puri masala.
Cool as a cucumber
We love chef Gurdip Kohli Punj’s trendy take on pani puri. The summery and soothing recipe calls for cucumber juice, alongside tamarind-and-date chutney, chaat masala, cumin powder and lemon. The stuffing, too, packs a punch, with a boiled chickpea base, flavoured with a clever spice mix. Check the full recipe out here.
While we know that like most sublime chaats, the real flavour of pani puri is best enjoyed on the streets. Here’s wishing that we meet our chaatwalas soon