This sweet tamarind pani (water) is made with tamarind-date chutney to create a sweet and tangy water with which to fill your pani puri.
What is pani for pani puri?
Pani is a Hindi word that literally means water. In the context of pani puri, a popular Indian street food, pani is the spiced water that is poured into the hollow semolina balls (puri). The pani can be made in so many different flavors, but the most famous varieties are sweet tamarind pani and spicy green pani.
Use tamarind-date chutney as a base
The trick to easily making this pani at home is to use a tamarind-date chutney as the base. Whenever I make pani puri, I am inevitably making other chaat dishes, which rely on tamarind-date chutney. I usually make a huge batch of my homemade imli khajur or tamarind date chutney which I can then use in my pani puri.
Making the pani is as easy as thinning out the chutney with cold water and adding spices like chaat masala and kala namak (black salt) to provide extra tanginess. Using this chutney as a base adds so much depth, with sweet notes from the dates and jaggery, tangy notes from the tamarind, and warming spices like cumin and coriander powder. If you don't have time to make the tamarind-date chutney at home, you can easily buy it online or at your local Indian grocery store.
Fresh Tamarind vs. Tamarind Paste
When making this sweet tamarind pani, I prefer using tamarind-date chutney that is made with fresh tamarind instead of tamarind paste. I love the fresh taste that tamarind pulp provides compared to the processed paste/concentrate, which doesn't have the same complexity. You can read about differences and how to substitute between the different varieties of tamarind in this blog post.
Adding alcohol in pani
Adding alcohol to the pani makes pani puri a fun spiked appetizer for parties. Light liquors work best for the pani. My personal favorite hard alcohols to add to the pani are tequila, vodka, and gin! Add as little or as much as desired. You don't even have to make pani puri to enjoy spiked pani. You can instead transform the pani into a cocktail by mixing a bit of ice, pani, liquor of your choice, and sparkling water.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can easily buy imli khajur chutney at your local Indian store or online.
You can check out the recipe for tamarind date chutney here.
You can buy chaat masala at your local Indian store or online.
Kala namak is black salt. It is usually light in color and has a sulfuric smell. You can buy it at your local Indian store or online.
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If you like this recipe for sweet tamarind pani, then you'll like these other fun recipes as well.