This is my first tentative foray into Indian food. Well, that’s not quite true; in December, I was seen to throw the entire chicken curry that I had attempted down the waste disposal – it was THAT bad. I knew I needed help and have since spent a wonderful afternoon and evening with my lovely friend, Bina, who patiently took me through several delectable dishes, which we then enjoyed over dinner. A popular street food, Pani Puri is what we enjoyed to start with and it was delicious! Puris are little crispy puffed up ‘balls’ made from wheat semolina. They don’t taste of too much until you stuff them up with this lovely filling and a choice of spicy and tangy chutneys. Topped with Sev Mamra (spicy puffed rice), these are quite delicious: the crispy shell of the puris breaks open to reveal the gently spiced filling, the kick and tanginess of the different chutneys and the cooling freshness of the coriander – a really lovely alternative to canapés and great fun, because the best bit is that you put all the elements on the table, letting friends and family assemble their own puris. My scribbled notes, taken on my afternoon with Bina, are perhaps not as accurate as they could be but John and I thoroughly enjoyed my efforts!
What you need…
10 x Pani Puri (they come in boxes of 40+ from Indian supermarkets and last for ages)
1 jar ready-made green chilli chutney
1 jar ready-made date tamarind chutney
Sev Mamra (available in different sized bags – you can enjoy whatever is left over simply as a snack on its own – very moreish!)
for the filling…
2 red potatoes, chopped small
Splash rapeseed oil
2 Indian or small red onions, chopped small
2 teaspoons coriander/cumin powder (Dhana Jeerer)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
200g tinned brown chick peas (Kala Chana), strained and rinsed
Handful of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Using your finger, tap out a hole in the top of each of the pani puri – it’s not too important how big, just large enough to get the filling into! Pop them on a serving plate and onto the table where you’ll be eating.
Tip the potatoes into a pan of salted water, bring to the boil and then simmer until soft. Strain through a sieve.
Dry the pan and add the rapeseed oil. Over a moderate heat, fry the onions and all of the dried spices and cook 5 minutes. If the mixture gets too dry, splash in a little water, just to keep the mixture moist.
Stir in the potatoes and chick peas and warm through. Chuck in a couple of teaspoons of chopped coriander, setting the rest aside until you’re ready to eat. And that’s your filling made!
In 4 pretty little serving bowls, spoon out some of each of the chutneys, the coriander and the sev mamra. In a larger bowl, serve the warm filling. Add the bowls to the table next to the pani puri. Equip everyone with plate and teaspoons and watch your guests’ delighted faces as they create their own starter or canapés, popping a little filling into the bottom and then topping with each of the chutneys, perhaps some fresh coriander and then the sev mamra – just delicious!
Bina! (Thank you soooooo much)
Really easy – there’s only the filling to make and then everyone makes their own!