Pani puri is a delicious hollow and crispy semolina ball that is stuffed with a chickpea and potato filling and filled with spicy and sweet pani (spiced water) for a mouth-bursting street food snack.
Ingredients in pani puri
Pani puri is a street food snack that is very popular in India. This dish is known by different names in various regions, including gol gappe, puchka, and gupchup, with each variety having slight differences. This refreshing snack is compromised of a hollow semolina ball known as the puri and a spiced water called the pani. To eat a pani puri, you pokes a small hole at the top of the puri, stuff it with the filling (which is usually comprised of a potato and chickpea mixture), and then dunk it into the pani. It is a one bite, burst-in-your-mouth snack.
- Puri - A small, crunchy, and hollow ball typically made with semolina (also known as rava). Other variations of this puri can be made with rice flour or atta (Indian whole wheat flour).
- Spicy Green Pani - My recipe for this spicy water uses a green chutney base comprised of green herbs like cilantro and mint, thinned out with ice cold water and mixed with chaat masala and black salt.
- Sweet Tamarind Pani - My recipe for this sweet and sour water is made with tamarind-date chutney (also known as imli-khajur chutney) that is thinned out with ice cold water and mixed with chaat masala and black salt.
- Potato and Chickpea Filling - Boiled potatoes and chickpeas are mixed with with chopped fresh red onions tossed in lip-smacking spices.
Store-bought vs homemade pani puri
Making homemade puri is absolutely not required for eating pani puri at home. In fact, when I was growing up, my amma (mom) never made this component at home; she would buy it from the grocery store.
My favorite store-bought pani puris are the ones that are already fried and sold in large boxes. I prefer these to the ones that are sold as dried discs to be baked or fried at home. The dried discs are usually made with rice flour and remind me more of fryums instead of the street-side puris I grew up eating, which are made from semolina. The pre-fried puris almost always use semolina. If you go with the store-bought variety, make sure to lightly toast the puris in the oven at 200F to crisp them back up.
However, if you are interested in making all the components from scratch, checkout my in depth blog post that goes over the best variety of semolina and the ideal rolling technique to craft this crunchy puri at home.
Pani puri party
Pani puri is the perfect party snack. Here are some tips and ideas for throwing a pani puri party:
- Set up a DIY chaat-cuterie board - Line your table or kitchen counter with butcher paper or parchment paper and lay out all the fixings for pani puri on your board. This creates a fun activity for your guests and creates a stress-free party snack! You can easily do this for dahi puri, bhel puri, and even papdi chaat.
- Make fillings and pani ahead of time - The potato and chickpea filling as well as the pani can be made 3-4 days ahead of the party that you plan on hosting so there is minimal setup on the day of.
- Put pani in squeeze bottles for an easy way to add pani to puris. Plastic squeeze bottles are super cheap and easy to find at grocery stores. Simply fill bottles with the pani so your guests can easily squirt some into the puris.
- Pani can be poured into chocolate fountain - You can make pani puri into the main attraction by using a chocolate fountain to circulate the pani. It makes for a show-stopping centerpiece to any party.
- Crisp up puris in the oven - Turning the oven low to 200F crisps up and warms the puris which makes for an exceptionally fresh tasting pani puri.
- Do not assemble pani puris with filling before event. Adding the potato and chickpea filling to the puris before the party can make the puris stale and soggy, so refrain from filling the puris ahead of time.
Pani for pani puri
Pani is the flavored water that gives pani puri its burst in your mouth sensation that. Choosing which pani you like is very personal to you. I myself love to alternate between a sweet tamarind pani and a spicy green pani to get the sweet and spicy combo. You can endlessly customize your pani with the flavors and herbs you like. Check out these two homemade pani recipes for your pani puri that use chutneys as their bases.
Pani with alcohol
No pani puri party would be complete without a little booze! Did you know that you can spike or add alcohol to your pani puri? Simply spike your pani water with your alcohol of choice. My preferred hard liquor to add to the pani is either tequila, vodka, or gin. The lighter liquors pair well with the salty, sweet, an sour notes of both the sweet tamarind pani and the spicy green pani.
Other chaat recipes you'll love
If you love chaats as much as I do, here are other chaats that you will love!
Frequently Asked Questions
Puri for pani puri can be purchased at your local Indian store or online. My favorite puris to buy are the pre-fried puris as they are made with semolina, whereas the discs that require frying/baking are usually made with rice flour.
Yup! Pani puri is naturally vegan.
Chaat masala is easily bought at local Indian grocery stores or online.
Other Recipes To Try
- Chaat Nachos
- Crispy Kale Chaat
- Papdi Chaat
- Dahi for Chaat
- Spicy Cilantro Mint Chutney
- Sweet and Sour Tamarind Date Chutney
- Potato and Peas Samosas
- Guide to throwing an Indian chaat party