My good friend Selina is an amazing cook. She is originally from India (Mumbai,) lived in the UK and now lives here in Florida. One of the things I realize with Indian families is that there is always a desire and almost a need for their country’s food. I have had many of Selina’s dishes from biryanis to curries to one of my favorites, her stuffed aubergines.
This week Selina has her family visiting. While they live in Toronto, they too, continue to cook up their local Indian dishes. Her sister, Nazrin, brother Karim and sister in law, Munira were talking to my husband Patrick and I about India. Finding out that my husband had lived in India for a while, they were fascinated to talk about his experiences and that soon led to a discussion about the food. They asked if either of us had ever had Indian street food – ready to eat food that is sold by vendors at portable stalls on the streets or other public places. Patrick remembered having some a long time ago and I was excited because my son is working at a restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina called Chai Pani that features some of these popular snacks. Seeing our enthusiasm, Selina and her siblings decided they were going to make some of their favorites for us to try.
I didn’t expect the feast that was laid out on the table. 2 trays with different types of puffy puris, a bowl of Bhel puri and on each of our plates 2 small bowls, one with a tamarind chutney and the other with a type of water (pani puri water.) We were given a quick lesson on how to eat the delicious smelling and looking goodies and within minutes the food was pretty much devoured.
The pani puri were amazing. You have a small deep fried puffed bread (the puri) that is hollowed out and stuffed with a most delicious mung bean & boiled potato mixture. You spoon in a bit of the tamarind chutney and then some of the pani (water) and pop it in your mouth in one bite. It’s an explosion of flavors and textures between the crunchy puri and the soft potato with the incredible spices of cumin and coriander and sweetness of the chutney. Then there was the Dahi Aloo Puri made with yogurt and potatoes. Another taste sensation with the creaminess of the yogurt and potato and kick from the chilies and garlic. Finally there was the most mouthwatering Bhel Puri made of puffed rice, green mango, potatoes, onions, peanuts, sev, spices and flat puris all mixed together and eaten with a spoon. It was heavenly.
I have to admit that it was difficult to stop eating since every thing was just so good but I managed to refrain from gorging too much and looking as if I hadn’t had a meal in days.
I am happy to say that Selina has given me her recipes and I am passing them along here. (see below the blog). While this is a lot of work I do know you’ll see it’s worth it. (No actual measurements because these are authentic family recipes. All of the ingredients can be found in Indian markets.)
Thanks Selina, Nazrin and Munira! (Karim- you were a good eater.)
Cheers and all the best,
Pani = water Puri = small durum wheat puffed puri
Pani Puri water:
Mix fresh coriander (cilantro) with green chilis – Grind together
Add some black salt
Roast cumin seeds and grind
Add red chili powder
Mix everything in water and chill
Add mint leaves for flavor but take out before serving
Mix soaked tamarind, jaggery, dates, sugar & red chil powder in a little water
Sprouted Mung Beans & Boiled Potatoes
Make small hole in the puri and fill with mixture of boiled potatoes and mung beans
Add a bit of tamarind chutney
Fill with Pani pani water and pop in mouth! Enjoy!
DAHI ALOO PURI:
Mix yogurt, sugar and salt and whisk well
Roast and ground cumin seeds
Add fresh chili powder and fresh cut coriander (cilantro)
Blend together garlic, ginger, green chilis, coriander, lime juice, red chili powder
Mix soaked tamarind, jaggary, dates, sugar and red chili powder in a little water
Boiled potatoes or boiled chickpeas or both
Sev – made with gram flour and available in Indian shops
Make holes in puri
Fill with potato/chickpea mixture
pour yogurt on top generously
Pour green & tamarind chutneys on top
Sprinkle on Sev
Sprinkle on roasted cumin & chili powder, chat masala
Add fresh coriander leaves on top
Buy bhel puri mix in Indian store
Mixture of puffed rice, sev peanuts and flat puris
Add raw finely diced green mango
Add boiled chopped potatoes
Add chopped onions
Add tamarind and green chutneys (as before)
Mix well and serve with chopped cilantro on top (also can squeeze lime juice on top)