Balls of spice

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 July, 2012, 12:00am


Pani puri (which goes by many other names, depending on which part of India you're in) is one of the most addictive snacks. They're small, crisp, hollow balls that you punch a hole into, fill with a mixture of potatoes and chickpeas, add some spice water and tamarind water, then eat in one bite. It's the perfect mouthful - savoury, sweet, sour, slightly spicy and delicately crunchy. I first tried pani puri several years ago at a snack shop in Delhi, and after that, wanted to try them from the street vendors, but was strongly advised not to. Other people didn't have any qualms about eating the street food, and, judging from the number of customers surrounding them, the pani puri vendors seemed much in demand.

It wouldn't be worth the bother to make pani puri at home, unless it was in huge quantities. You have to make the dough for the puri (the balls), heat the oil and fry them, then make the filling and flavourings. You could probably buy the puri - one of the Indian provisions shops in town is sure to have them, but you need to check they're fresh - you should be able to break a hole in the top without the whole thing shattering.