The Nostalgia of Pani Puri
As Nepali, our mouth starts watering, thinking of spicy and tangy Panipuri. This street food sensation is known all over Nepal for its tongue-tingling, flavorful punch to the palate. Try walking past a Pani Puri stall, and you can’t resist the urge of having at least five or ten of them.
Also known as Golgappa, Pani Puri is a borrowed street snack from our southern neighbor. Pani Puri found its way from our stomachs to our hearts, and now, it has become the epitome of Nepali street snacks, especially among the younger generation. The nostalgia of gathering around the Pani Puri stall in the evening, gulping down as much as you can, and beating your friends at it is delightful.
Who hasn’t rushed to the nearest panipuri stall after school, right?
At first, glance Pani Puri doesn’t seem so special. The name Pani Puri is a combination of two words: Pani, which refers to chilled tangy flavored cilantro mint water, and Puri, which is a deep-fried crunchy hollow ball of flour. However, eating Pani Puri is a whole different story. The top of Puri is cracked open, then stuffed with mashed potatoes, onions, and other spices. It is then filled with Pani and devoured in one bite. Pani Puri has to be made and eaten at the same time, or else Puri will get soggy. The trick is to put the entire Pani Puri in your mouth without it busting, and only the most seasoned Pani Puri lover can do it perfectly.
Let’s look at how we can prepare this tangy delight.
The puri is made by mixing semolina (suji), plain flour, baking soda, salt, and water to make a soft but firm dough. Then the dough is rolled into a small circle and deep-fried in oil. When deep-fried, it puffs up, looking like a tennis ball. The boiled potatoes are mashed and combined with diced onions, chilies, chaat masala, cumin powder, coriander powder, and red chili powder for the filling. Lastly, Pani is prepared by adding water to a large bowl, Panipuri masala, lime juice, and finely chopped coriander leaves. Pani Puri is assembled to the taste and eaten immediately.
Although upscale restaurants have started selling Pani Puri with modern twists from chocolate Pani puri to replacing the Pani with spiced vodka shots, their offering doesn’t hit the spot like the Pani Puri from local vendors.
We recommend you to try Pani Puri from local vendors on your next trip to Nepal. You might have second thoughts regarding its salubrity when you see vendors selling Pani Puri in the dusty streets of Kathmandu and elsewhere. But we promise you that you will be captivated by the appealing sensation it gives you.
The Chowk is here to satisfy your Pani Puri cravings by serving the local taste of Pani Puri to your doorsteps. This street food delight has been one of the loved snacks here at Hobart so if you feel the nostalgia of home, give us a visit.