Back from India for just a few days and already I am starting to crave some Indian food. I thought I would have a sedate month of salads to recover from the trip. But three days back and wide awake late at night, I wish I could have some pani puri.
Pani puri is the quintessential street food snack. Ultra crispy puris (like mini flat bread fried until it puffs up like a ball) are the carrier for a zingy spicy, sour, hot, peppery and slightly sweet taste sensation that explodes in your mouth. The puris are cracked open and then filled with some chickpea and potato concoction, a drizzle of fiery corriander chilli sauce added (for the spicy hit) and then the whole thing is dunked into a bowl to fill with first some tamarind water (for the sweet sour taste) and then a second bowl with some salty-peppery water. They are handed to you one at a time as they must be eaten immediately to retain the crunch and the liquid. It really is a flavour explosion in your mouth.
I was wary of trying it on thus trip given the whole water borne disease thing. But after my cousin boldly proclaimed that he had eaten some and was still standing, even though it was only five hours later (I should have waited for 24 to see if he was still standing then!), I left Andrew and the kids behind and rushed off to have some too. I ate in a tiny shop at the markets, not a street stall, in the hope that there would be marginally more hygene. And what can I tell you? It was so good and I survived to tell the tale and go back for more on my last day in Pune.