Learn to make this sweet-salty and tangy Indian street food at home with our fun version of crispy pani puri with a roasted sweet potato and chickpea filling, garnished with popular Indian flavour packed toppings. Call it an Indian appetizer, canape or snack, these chaat bites are the perfect party starter.
Puri's are sometimes hard to find if you live outside India so we decided to make our own at home. Making them from scratch takes a bit of effort, however it is much easier than it seems. Follow our step by step recipe and be rewarded with a perfectly puffed up crisp which can hold any filling without turning soggy.
During my time in India, I fell in love with Indian street snacks. Large crispy samosas, vegetable pakoras and aloo tikki to name a few. Shilpi then took me to try the best Pani puri's in town, also called gol gappa but unfortunately these turned out be my least favourite! They came filled with a spicy water, flavoured with kala namak aka Himalayan black salt which I must say is an acquired taste!
To make up for this experience, I tried the famous Papdi chaat next (a crispy fried flour crackers made with either whole wheat flour or all purpose flour, served with yogurt, chutneys and other Indian condiments) which turned out to be my favourite!
So, this is how we came up with our version of 'Puri Chaat Bites' combining the best of both worlds for a somewhat different appetizer. Resembling the famous Indian chaat, loaded with condiments like avocado chutney, yoghurt, tamarind, coriander, mango and pickled onions, these crunchy balls will be hard to resist even for the most sceptic.
WHAT IS PURI CHAAT
Puri's are puffed up balls made with a semolina dough thinly rolled out and then fried. These puri's are hollow inside hence making them perfect for fillings.
Chaat refers to an array of snack food or street food. The word chaat also means to taste or lick as in finger-licking good. The most popular Indian chaat is papdi chaat, a fried or baked crisp topped with potatoes, chickpeas, yoghurt, chutney's and spices.
HOW TO MAKE PURI
Puri's can be a task to make and that's why we usually bought them pre made. Now where we live, unfortunately there are no Indian stores selling them so we decided to make our own. As daunting as it may seem, surprisingly it wasn't difficult at all to make these puri's! They actually turned out pretty well on my first attempt and thereafter got even better with a bit of practice.
Here are the steps I follow to make Puri's at home:
Preparing the dough
The dough for the puri's is based on a flour called sooji, also called fine semolina which can easily be found in most stores. Mix the semolina flour with oil and salt. Add the all purpose flour and baking soda to the mixture and start adding 2-3 tablespoon of water.
Mix well and start kneading adding more water as required. The dough will seem dry but adding more water and kneading will improve it's elasticity. When you have kneaded the dough well, it will be something between soft and hard. Cover with a moist kitchen towel and leave it to rest for 30 minutes.
Rolling out the dough
Divide the dough into four parts. Start to roll out the dough without adding flour as thin as possible. Use a cookie cutter and cut out round discs. Cover the discs with a moist towel while you continue with the remaining dough. One recipe will give you 30 to 40 puri's.
Frying the Puri's
Heat oil for frying and add one puri to test the temperature. I use a small pot big enough to fry 2-3 at a time as firstly I don't want to waste too much oil and secondly I swirl the pot to make them puff up, a technique used for soufflee potatoes (puffed potatoes). Cook the puris for 10 seconds per side and place them on a sieve to drain the oil. Continue until you have used up all the dough.
Storing the Puri's
If you don't use them straight away, store the puris in an airtight container away from moisture. Stored properly they will stay crispy for at least three days.
MAKING THE PURI FILLING
For the filling, you can use your choice of ingredients. At home we prefer sweet potatoes and chickpeas. Simply cut the sweet potatoes in small dices and mix with the cooked, strained chickpeas. Season with oil, salt, chilli and cumin powder.
Place the mixture in a baking dish and roast at 190°C (375°F) for 18 minutes or until cooked. The chickpeas will turn slightly crispy and take on a roasting flavour. I left the mixture as it is but you can crush them if you prefer.
INDIAN CHAAT TOPPINGS
The best part of these puri chaat bites are the toppings. Hot, sweet or savoury you can create any delicious snack, customised to your flavour profile. We experimented with our favourite's and here is our topping combination:
Avocado & Coriander Chutney
This spicy, creamy avocado and coriander chutney is something different to the usual mint chutney used in chaat snacks. We enjoyed making and eating it so much that we have created a seperate recipe for it.
Yoghurt & Tamarind
Yoghurt and tamarind are a common ingredient in most Indian Chaats. The tamarind is used to make a sweet chutney but we skipped that part and used just the store bought tamarind paste as it gave our Puri chaat bites a nice tangy kick.
As for the yoghurt, you can use store bought yoghurt or make your own at home like in most Indian households. We enjoy making our own so If you too want to give it a go, you can learn to make yoghurt here.
Pickled red onions
We prefer pickled red onions to raw onions and your guests might too! Use our quick pickle recipe that doesn't take more than 5 minutes.
Mango & Pomegranate
Finely cut mango, semi-ripe is a lovely addition for puri chaat together with pomegranate seeds. You can leave them out if you find them too fruity.
Coriander & Mint
Chopped coriander and mint leaves can either be added to the sweet potato and chickpea filling or used as a garnish. Since we already used coriander in the avocado chutney, we use fresh coriander and mint leaves as the final garnish on top and around the Puri's while plating.
ASSEMBLING THE PURI CHAAT BITES
To assemble the puri chaat, you need to prepare your puri's first. Use your thumb to crack the top of the puri leaving a small hole big enough to add the filling. Add about a teaspoon of the sweet potato and chickpea mixture. Cover the top with a drop of the avocado and coriander chutney and a drop of tamarind.
If serving straight away, spread a thin layer of yoghurt on a serving plate and add the puri chaats on top. Otherwise serve the yoghurt and chutney on the side to avoid the Puri bites from turning soggy.
Next, sprinkle the mango dices and pomegranate seeds on top of the filled up puri chaat bites. Add a small amount of pickled red onions on top. Garnish with fresh herbs and some chilli powder if you like.
If meant to be an appetizer, serve 5-6 puri chaat bites per serving but if serving it is as a canape or Indian style snack (depending on your menu) calculate 2-3 per person.
We love to play with traditional recipes and give them a modern fun twist like we did with Indian snack puri chaat, there are no limits!
Besides the traditional fillings, experiment filling the Puri's with seafood for example, beet cured salmon with a dill and horseradish creme fraiche for festive puris. Or give them a middle eastern twist with a tabouleh filling and a pomegranate and mint topping. I have even heard of Vodka infused pani puri but I am yet to try first myself! Basically the possibilities are endless!
Yes, the puri and all the condiments can be prepared ahead of time. If you are entertaining, you can even fill them already and just finish them with the chutneys and garnish when your guests have arrived.
Puri chaat can be prepared vegan. Leave out the yoghurt and replace with coconut or soy yoghurt. The puri chaat will even be delicious if you leave the yoghurt entirely out.
Almost every time I have attended parties and get-togethers in Dehli Indian snacks like papdi chaat or gol gappa's were on the menu. This easy Indian appetizer requires minimum effort, it is cost-effective, and most importantly it is a crowd pleaser. Next when you are hosting a party and need inspiration for a fun Indian snack, I highly recommend serving our Puri Chaat bites - loved by kids and adults alike!
If you try this recipe we would love to hear from you. Leave us a comment below and don't forget to rate the recipe!
Until then enjoy 'chaat-ing'😁
Puri Chaat Bites - An Indian Snack
- Rolling Pin
- cookie cutter
- mixing bowl
- frying pot
- baking dish
for the puri
- 160 gram fine semolina
- 1 teaspoon cooking oil
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 6 tablespoon water
- salt to taste
- frying oil
for the filling
- 1 medium sweet potato peeled
- 220 gram cooked chickpeas drained
- ½ lemon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- salt to taste
for the puri
- Mix the semolina flour with the oil and a pinch of salt. Add the all purpose flour and baking soda to the mixture and start adding 2-3 tablespoon of water. Mix well and start kneading. Add more water as required.
- The dough will seem dry but adding more water and kneading will improve it's elasticity. When you have kneaded the dough well it will be something between soft and hard. Cover with a moist kitchen towel and leave it to rest for 30 minutes.
- Divide the dough into four parts. Start to roll out one dough without adding flour as thin as possible. Use a cookie cutter and cut out round discs. Cover the discs with a moist towel while you continue with the remaining dough. One recipe will give you 30 to 40 puri's.
- Heat the frying oil in a small pot.Add one puri to test the temperature of the oil. If the oil is hot enough, the puris will puff up immediately. Cook the puris for 10 seconds per side and place them on a sieve to drain the oil. Continue with the remaining dough.
- If you don't use them straight away, store the puris in an airtight container away from moisture. Stored properly they will stay crispy for at least three days.
for the filling
- Cut the sweet potatoes in small dices and mix with the cooked, strained chickpeas. Season with the oil, salt, chilli and cumin powder and mix well.
- Place the mixture in a baking dish and roast at 190°C (375°F) for 18 minutes or until cooked. The chickpeas will turn slightly crispy and take on a roasting flavour. Set aside.
assembling the puri chaat
- Prepare the puris first. Use your finger to crack the top of the puri leaving a small hole big enough to add the filling. Add about a teaspoon of the sweet potato and chickpea filling inside.
- Cover the top with a drop of the avocado and coriander chutney and a drop of tamarind. Place a thin layer of yoghurt on a serving plate and add the puri chaats on top.
- Next add a small amount of pickled red onions and sprinkle with the mango dices and pomegranate seeds.
- Garnish with the coriander and mint leaves.
- If serving straight away, spread a thin layer of yoghurt on a serving plate and add the puri chaats on top. Otherwise serve the yoghurt and chutney on the side to avoid the Puri bites from turning soggy.
- If meant to be an appetizer serve five-six puri chaats per serving. If the puri chaat is a canape or snack, depending on your menu ,calculate 2-3 puris per person.