Classic flavours with a twist

Classic flavours with a twist

Street food

Classic flavours with a twist

Imagine this — a bite-sized crunchy bowl filled with mashed potato that’s amalgamated with a touch of hot, cold, spicy and sweet flavours, which you then dip into tangy syrup and devour in one bite. When you bite into it, you feel a sense of joy as the marriage of these flavours fills your palate. And once you’ve had about seven to eight of them, there’s another version of this which is a flat, crispy bite that puts an end to the delicious journey. Sounds glorious, doesn’t it? ‘Pani puri’, a popular bite-sized snack, is found in every nook and corner of the City and almost everyone loves digging into it.

Though many claim that the street stall ones are tastier, some of the chefs in the City have taken up the challenge to add new flavour combinations to give this classic snack a twist. Chef Manu Nair, corporate executive chef at ‘SouthIndies’, shares one of his innovations with ‘pani puri’. He says, “The classic ‘pani puri’ has mashed potatoes with ‘masalas’ added to it. However, we use overcooked horse gram, jaggery masala and asafoetida (‘hing’) masala for the filling. And while the regular ‘puri’ is made with rava and ‘maida’, we make it with rice flour.” Apart from the flavour combinations, what makes the ‘pani puri’ here different is the water used for it — it’s rasam! Popularly known as ‘Rasam Pani Puri’, this fusion dish is served with four types of ‘rasam’ — tomato, pineapple, mint and spicy pepper ‘rasam’. One can choose which one they want to devour the crunchy bites in.

Chef Sachin Kashyap from ‘Horn Ok Please’ is also one to experiment with this snack as he has created two separate versions for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. He says, “We wanted to make something different from what the dish is usually known for, so we came up with some exciting combinations. One is to use butter chicken as the filling for non-vegetarians and ‘aloo jeera’ for vegetarians. It’s become so popular with our guests that many come here just to eat that.”

While several restaurants are experimenting with new flavour combinations, some of the ‘pani puri’ loyalists still prefer the street flavours. Sadvi Vikas, a homemaker, says, “The ‘matka pani puri’ is my favourite. Whenever I’m out shopping, if I find a seller, I make sure to have some. But the best part of it all is the last bite — the ‘sukha puri’ which has the right amount of crunchy, spicy, sweet and tangy flavours to it.” However, Sadvi makes sure that the seller she goes to is hygienic so that she doesn’t fall sick later.

Shreya Agarwal, an MBA graduate, recalls a memory associated with it and says, “During my graduation days, it was a daily routine to walk down the college lane to have ‘pani puri’. My friends and I once had a competition as to who can have the maximum number of ‘pani puris’. I ended up having about 30 to 40 that day!” And when asked about what she thinks about the new variations of her favourite snack that restaurants are coming up with, she says, “I’m not a huge fan of the new innovations, but some of them are nice. I once tried ‘pani puri’ shots at a restaurant which I thought was great, but my heart is still set on the street flavour.”

While the classic ones seem to hold a place in Bengalurean’s hearts, chefs are still willing to experiment with the flavours to please their guests. To this, Chef Manu says, “People will always have their favourites, and that’s alright. But the difference between  street food and restaurant food is that in restaurants, we know that the surroundings we cook and serve in are clean. This makes a huge difference to the taste and that’s also why many come back to try our new innovations.”

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