We first saw it on a food and travel show. We were intrigued but we weren’t really sure how we could taste it unless we traveled to India.
Then, my husband discovered an Indian restaurant selling panipuri not too far from where we live. Not only did he order panipuri, he came home with so many other dishes that included chicken biryani and mutton masala. We feasted.
How to eat panipuri
Panipuri consists of fried hollow flatbread (puri) stuffed with potato mash. To stuff the bread, we used the back of a teaspoon to crack it. The shards fell into the hollow of the bread, and the potato mash was spooned to fill the hollow.
Our panipuri set included a tub of dahi (Indian curd made from warm milk and a bacterial yogurt starter) so we spooned some on top of the potato mash.
Tamarind chutney was drizzled over the fillings.
And, finally, spiced water was spooned directly into the hollow. And this is where we deviated from the traditional way of eating panipuri.
Traditionally, once the bread is stuffed, the whole thing is dunked into a bowl of spiced water until the liquid fills the bread. But dunking the filled bread into a bowl of spiced water would have made a mess on the dinner table, I didn’t want to have to deal with the cleanup, so we opted to spoon the spiced water into the bread instead.
Whichever technique you employ to fill the stuffed bread with liquid, you do have to add that spiced water into the package. Then, you pop the stuffed bread into your mouth and enjoy the blast of flavors and textures. Soft potato, creamy curd, crispy bread, sweet chutney and, oh, all those lovely spices.
What does panipuri taste like?
The potato mash is spicy, the tamarind chutney is more sweet than sour, the curd is subtly tangy and the spiced water is, well… spicy. You combine all that and the flavors just come together in a really delightful way. Despite the spices in the components, panipuri is not excessively hot.
Is panipuri a healthy snack?
That depends on who you ask, I suppose.
People who still live by the mantra that anything fried is unhealthy will tell you that the fried bread is bad for you.
But considering that everything that goes into panipuri is natural, I wouldn’t be so quick to call it unhealthy. I’d choose panipuri over donuts any day.