Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gol Gappa aka Pani Puri

What are you all having this weekend? We are having a Gol Gappa aka Pani puri fest. And you are all invited...

Mention Gol Gappa in India and you will be hard pressed to find someone who says ' I don't like it '. It is loved by all: young and old. We all love it in our home, even my 5 year old loves it.

In India the best way to have it is at a street vendor's cart. They are famous for making these and serving multiple customers at the same time. Once you place your order, you and your party huddle around the cart or wherever else you get space and the vendor can reach you with his hand. He hands you a small plate and asks your preference, whether you like it a little sweet, tart or full blown spicy hot. Everybody has their own request and be sure that he will remember it. Once all the requests are heard he starts puncturing the puris and stuffing them with your requested stuffing - mine being always potato and channa - and dipping them in big ceramic vats containing the different 'panis' (water). Then he rapidly places it in your plate and repeats the procedure till he has served the rest of your party and then it is your turn again. He is so fast that you do not have to wait at all, in fact sometimes you are still finishing the first and he has served the next, then you hear everyone asking him to slow down. The fun of having it at the street vendor's cart adds to the taste and excitement of eating pani puris.

At home you can adopt that style and serve everyone, as for me I do not have that patience to watch everyone eat while I just serve. So I place individual bowls of pani next to the 10-15 stuffed puris in a plate per person . Thus everyone can fill their own puris with pani and stuff them in their mouths. The way to eat it is to place the whole thing in your mouth in one go, no hesitation or else you have have a wet crumbly mess in your hands. Just pop them in your mouth and the puri bursts and your whole mouth is flooded with the pani. It is an amazing sensation, try it and see, you will love it. Just be sure to make the puris just small enough so that they will fit right in your mouths.

For those of you who want to enjoy these savoury snacks without going through the hassle of rolling 60-80 small puris, you can get ready made pani puris at your local Indian grocery store. I decided to make mine as the ones that I get here have a very stale smell to them. I, however, used ready-made pani.

makes about 70-80 puris


For the puri

160 gm semolina / fine sooji / rawa
20 gm all purpose flour / maida
3-5 tbsp water
a pinch of salt
(Another way for those who use the cup measurement is get a little over 3/4 cup semolina  and a little less that 1/4 cup all purpose flour / maida and about 1/4 cup water.)

For the stuffing

2 potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
1 cup channa / garbanzo beans, cooked and drained
salt, to taste
1/4 tsp red chili powder

For the pani

You can get ready made pani puri concentrate from your local Indian grocer ( I used the Deep brand and loved it ) or you can get Pani Puri Masala also at your local Indian grocer, you just have to follow the direction on the back of the box.


For the Puri
  1. Mix the semolina, all purpose flour and salt together in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  2. Add the water a little at a time till it all comes together and you form a soft dough.
  3. Divide the dough into approximately 70-80 small pellets. Keep it all covered under a moist cloth.
  4. Take each pellet and roll it out into approximately 1 1/2 inch to 2 inch diameter circles ( the idea here is that this, when fried should fit in your mouth in one go ). Keep all the rolled puris covered under a moist cloth. Roll out all the little puris before you begin frying. Alternately you could take a bigger sized ball and roll it out into a bigger circle and the use a 2 inch circle cookie cutter to cut the little puri out. Collect the scrapes together and repeat the process and roll them out till you have used up the whole dough.
  5. Heat oil to medium in your wok / kadai or deep fryer and fry the puris . I found that when you drop the puri into the hot oil, use the back of your slotted spoon to keep the puri submerged in the hot oil till the puri starts to puff up and pushes your spoon upwards. then let go of the pressure and the puri will rise to the top all puffed up. Now flip it over and let it cook on the other side. Fry your puris till they are a nice golden brown in color on both sides. When done, remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place over an absorbent paper. Fry all the rest of the puris in this manner. Your puris are now ready. Cool them and store them covered in an airtight container till you are ready to have the gol gappas.
For the filling
  1. Mash the boiled potatoes and season with a little salt and red chili powder.
  2. Also sprinkle some salt over the cooked channa too.
For the assembly
  1. Poke a hole in a puffed puri and fill it with a little potato and channa mixture. Do the same for the next 20 puris or however more or less you want to serve per person.
  2. Place them in a plate and also place a small bowl of the prepared pani with it.
  3. When ready to eat, pour the pani in the puri and fill it up. Then pop the whole thing in your mouth.
Note: There are various fillings that people put in their pani puris. Some put chopped onions, some sprouted moong, while some just like it plain with the pani.

Form small pellets of the dough.

Roll it out to about a 2 inch diameter circle.

Once ready to serve, poke a hole on one side of the puri.

Stuff the puri with the channa and potato mixture.

Serve in a similar manner.

Now get ready to open your mouth.

Use your fingers to like the real pani puri lovers do.

This is the ready-made pani I used and recommend.