February 2, 2013


Many years ago (when I was in my seventh grade or so), I visited my aunt (my mom's younger sis) & her family in Kolkata (the then Calcutta). One of the most favorite and unforgettable experiences whilst our stay was, when my uncle got us introduced to a 'puchka-stand' where puchka-wala (street vendor) sells puchka a.k.a panipuri in a cycle at the corner of their street!

Initially, the concept of puchkas and more so, the puchka-wala was not well conceived by my dad as he is totally against street food. Thanks to my uncle who insisted us to give it a try and my dad instantly fell in love with it. Interestingly, the very first time when I was offered puchkas, I refused to try them! Can you ever imagine somebody saying 'no' to this mouth-watering snacks? Well, I did! It took me a couple of days to make up my mind & try it and honestly, I was blown away by the taste!

The experience itself is something that you have to yearn for! What is being served in restaurant these days in the name of "Panipuri" cannot even come closer to it! You will be handed a cute 'n small cup (rolled out with some kind of a leaf) and you have to patiently wait for the puchka-wala to serve you crispy puchkas - one at a time - stuffed with mashed potato filling, dipped into a large pot of tangy tamarind water. Larger the group, longer the wait for your next puchka to be served - but, its worth all the wait! Hmmmmm .. thinking about it, I am hungry all again!

This recipe might not be the same as that of the traditional ones that they serve on the streets of Calcutta, but definitely tasty, healthy and worth a try! After all, you can't imitate the pioneers!

Home-made (or) store-bought mini puri - as required

For pani/water
Mint leaves - 1 bunch (medium sized)
Coriander leaves - 1 bunch (medium sized)
Ginger - 1 inch
Green chillies - 2 nos (adjust to your spice level but remember that the pani will get less spicier as you add water)
Lime juice -  from 2 limes (medium sized)
Salt - to taste
Cold water - 2 cups

For stuffing
Boiled and mashed potatoes - 3-4 nos (medium sized)
Onion - 1 no (small sized, chopped into tiny pieces)
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Boondi/Sev - 1/4 cup (Homemade / store-bought)

For pani/water
Refrigerate 2 cups of water for 30 mins until cold and set aside. Using a mixer, grind all the ingredients under 'For Pani/water' into a fine paste. Then, add cold water to the paste and dilute it. Taste & adjust salt.

For stuffing
Give mashed potatoes, onion, salt, garam masala a good mix. Keep it aside. 

To serve
Gently tap on top of the puris and break it to make a small hole. Fill the puri with little stuffing/boondi/sev. Dunk the stuffed puri into the cup of mint water and pop it into your mouth in one go before pani soaks up the entire puri. Close your eyes and enjoy all the taste & textures that these cute li 'l snacks has to offer!

  • For stuffing, you can also use cooked chickpeas / chopped cilantro / freshly chopped onion / fried moong dal. Go for your favorite ones!
  • Traditional pani is made of tamarind water. I still remember how pani that they served us in Calcutta looked brown in color.
  • You can also add sweet / hot chutney on top of the filling. My family likes spicy panipuri's. I make sure that the pani is spicy enough from the chillies and so, I skipped both the chutneys.

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