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Panipuri

Panipuri is a popular street snack in India. It comprises a round, hollow "puri", fried crisp and filled with a watery mixture of tamarind, chilli and potato. The name panipuri literally means "water in fried bread". Pani is a Hindi word for water and puri (or poori) is an Indian bread that is made by frying dough in oil. It is known as puchka in Eastern Indian states like Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal and in Bangladesh. Since the bread is served with special spiced water, it is known as pani poori; it is also known as gol gappa.

Preparation

In general, any form of phuchka or panipuri is a hollow, puffed, round dough which tastes like a crunchy shell. The shell by itself is not a great tasting snack, unless it is stuffed with special spicy potato-based stuffing and dipped in a masala water to fill up the hollow dough. Usually the stuffing needs to be prepared separately, and a small hole is made on the top centre of the dough with a finger to be able to insert the potato based stuffing inside the hollow dough. It is then dipped in the masala water and then served.
br> It is the associated stuffing and recipe of the masala water that makes it unique. In different regions in India, depending upon the local palate, the stuffing and water are made differently. They are known by different names based on these different recipes.

Preparation of the stuffing

Boiled potatoes are mashed and mixed with powdered black salt, roasted cumin powder and roasted red chilli powder. Boiled chana dal (chick peas) and coriander leaves may also be added to the mixture. Finely chopped onion can also be mixed in stuffing for taste. If you don't have potatoes, you can also use Garbanzo Chick Peas.

Preparation of the water

Tamarind pulp, roasted chilli powder, roasted cumin powder, black salt and regular salt are mixed thoroughly in water. Instead of tamarind, lemon or young green mango (which is sour in taste) can be made into paste along with Aam Adrak (ginger with the flavour of mango), along with mint water and spices like chilli powder, roasted cumin, black salt, and dry mango powder (amchur).

Preparation of the shell

Flour, wheat flour and semolina are mixed in equal proportion, and added with salt and little water to make a very thick dough. Very tiny balls are made out of the dough and flattened to a circular shape, with a diameter varying between 23 inches, using a rolling pin. These are later deep fried in edible oil.

Dahi phuchka recipe

Instead of using water as a serving base, dahi (yogurt) is used. The yogurt is battered after adding a little date chutney. Ground spices are sprinkled over it and garnished with sev mamra.

Presentation

Typically, panipuris are served in 58 quantities, constituting a "plate". The plate is constructed out of dry sal leaves and has a triangular shape. Some places offer panipuris pre-made into a whole plate, but the popular way is to be served them one at a time from a road-side vendor. Customers hold a small plate and stand around the server's cart. The server then starts making one panipuri at a time and gives one to each individual. Panipuri servers have to remember each customer's preferences: e.g. sweetened pani, more filling, more onions. The server must also keep count of how many panipuris each person has had. Panipuri servers are renowned for remembering choices and numbers served, even when serving an entire crowd.

Traditionally, panipuris are eaten by placing the entire puri into the mouth in one go and biting into it. This releases a barrage of different tastes. Panipuris may be finished off with a cup of the pani, sweetened or soured to taste.

A recent emergence in the presentation of panipuri involves the use of vodka as an intoxicating substitute for the more traditional stuffings. Typically, this serving method is confined to privately-hosted parties, and is seldom (if ever) seen practiced among street vendors

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