Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pani Poori Variations ( North Indian Street Food)

Pani Poori also called Phuchka/ Gol Gappa, was probably invented in Benaras. It is the cornerstone of the huge, North Indian street food industry. This fried, golf ball sized crunchy shell is filled with stuffing, topped up with a liquid and is popped whole into the mouth. This bite sized morsel meal mimics a full meal with its bread, curry and wash-down liquid combination. The liquid / stuffing vary from region to region.

This cookbook lists 1000 Pani Poori varieties. Ten different stuffings are paired with ten different additives and ten different liquids to create a thousand different Pani Pooris.

The Stuffing:
A variety of stuffing listed in column 1 can be used as a base. Remember that the stuffing mimics a curry. So almost any curry can be used as a stuffing. Boiled and mashed Potatoes are the most popular stuffing across India. The Marathi version uses Boondi and many east Indian versions use sprouts / boiled Mung beans. Meats / cheeses are almost never used in Indian Pani pooris, but that is no reason why you should avoid them. Almost any dry curry can be used as a stuffing. Even left over not-so-dry curries can be used to stuff pooris, in which case, you need not add extra liquid.

 The additives :
A variety of additives are mixed in with the stuffing for flavour/ texture. Some common additives are listed in column 2.

Liquid :
Pani poori is topped off with a sour liquid, which helps in washing it down, and enables one to wolf down dozens of pani pooris without drinking water. The liquid can range from very sour to very sweet / spicy depending on the region. Vodka is a recent addition and vodka Pani poori was a recent rage in Bombay. The liquid is stored in huge earthern pots wrapped with a red, moist towel to keep it cool. The vendor takes a poori in his left hand, punctures it with his thumb, adds  stuffing with his right hand, takes the stuffed poori in his right hand and dunks it into the pot, filling it with liquid. It is placed in the customers plate and is immediately gulped down.

6 pooris usually make a plate. The idea of mimicking a meal is carried to its conclusion with the final poori being served with a sweet chutney (mimicking the dessert).

Pani poori can also be served dry without a liquid. When yogurt is used it is called Dahi Poori ( yogurt – bread). When curried green peas masala is used as liquid, the stuffing is omitted and it is called a masala poori. When sev is used, it is called Sev Poori

Unpuffed Pooris : While frying, it is likely that the pooris do not puff up. These are called Papdi and are not wasted. The stuffing  is arranged over them, additives are sprinkled, drenched with a chutney and served as a Papdi. Dahi Papdi, Masala Papdi are common. Broken pani pooris are also crushed and used as papdi. 

Boiling Beans: Soak a handful of dried, whole mung / chickpeas / green peas in water overnight. Add two cups of water and pressure cook for three whistles.

Making Poori : Take a handful each all purpose flour, wheat flour and semolina. Add two pinches of salt and baking powder. Knead with water to a stiff dough. Roll into a large thin sheet. Cut with an inverted lid into small, bite sized circles. Deep fry both sides in oil till puffed and golden. Readymade pooris are widely available.


Tips :

Microwave the shells for few seconds and they’ll be a lot crunchier.

Keep the liquid cold. A crunchy poori with a cool liquid tastes divine !

Mini Phyllo shells can be used in place of Pooris. 

And this is my second entry to A Mad Tea Party's Party time !

1 comment:

Mriganayani said...

Hey Ramki,

What a cool concept - love the one page idea. So easy to work it.

I just came across your blog - will surely spend time here!

Keep up the great work! Love your profile description too!

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