My first time going to India was last September and I didn't know what to expect. I traveled by myself and went into sensory overload when I first stepped foot out of the airport. It was 4am local time, it was hot and humid, the air was heavy and polluted, and OMG it was crowded! I made it to my hotel in one piece, took a long nap, and met my colleagues at the office later that morning.
Just prior to dinner on my first night, I was introduced to a tasty little snack called Pani puri. Literally this means water in fried bread but it is so, so much more. Pani puri is a very popular street snack in India where you will often see small carts loaded high with puri, the fried dough bread, and crowds of people surrounding the carts slurping these tasty treats one after the other. My last trip to India was this past February and I made sure to have at least a few pani puri every night, in my hotel. I did not get to try the pani puri from a street cart - maybe next time.
To make this snack, a small hole is pressed into the top of the hollow fried bread and filled with a mixture of mashed chickpea (or potato), coriander leaves (cilantro), fresh green chilies or red chili powder, cumin, minced onion and black pepper. The 'water' is a mixture of tamarind, chili powder, cumin, salt and black pepper and is spooned into the dough with the chickpea/potato mixture. Pop this snack into your mouth and crunch, a combination of sweet, spicy, savory and delicious will hit you all at once. This is definitely one of my favorite Indian snacks and I can't wait to go back for more.