I absolutely adore 𝙥𝙖𝙣𝙞 𝙥𝙪𝙧𝙞 after having them for the first time in Bangalore about 20 years ago. The crisp hollow, round pastry shells, the savoury, spiced potatoes, onions, the tiny balls of 𝙗𝙤𝙤𝙣𝙙𝙞 (made from chickpea flour), and the all-important spiced, sour-sweet liquid to be poured into the pastry shells.
I found some of the best 𝙥𝙖𝙣𝙞 𝙥𝙪𝙧𝙞𝙨 in Mumbai, and also in Delhi, where they are sometimes called 𝙜𝙤𝙡𝙜𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙖. Indian Accent of Delhi, often rated the best restaurant in India, has a version with vodka-spiked liquid. I was told by the bartender there that the practice actually originated from the street version often consumed by the working-class, where toddy was added to the liquid for added kick.
In Dhaka, Bangladesh, there is a heavier version called 𝙛𝙪𝙘𝙝𝙠𝙖. The principle and main components remain the same: round, hollow balls with a crispy exterior, spiced carb-onion filling, filled up with a spiced, sour-sweet liquid.
There is only one way to eat a 𝙥𝙖𝙣𝙞 𝙥𝙪𝙧𝙞 - you have to pop the whole ping pong-sized pastry ball into your mouth. As you bite down on the tiny globe of deliciousness, you will experience a satisfactory crunch as the fragile ball shatters, and a rush of cool, sour-sweet liquid fills your mouth. You then taste the spiced, cooked potatoes, the astringent sting of chopped sweet onions, the dull embrace from the 𝙖𝙢𝙘𝙝𝙤𝙤𝙧 (dried mango powder), the cool liquid with tamarind-sourness and jaggery-sweetness holds them all together. Then you’ll catch a hint of the masala spices, and the fragrance from the coriander leaves.
A good 𝙥𝙖𝙣𝙞 𝙥𝙪𝙧𝙞 awakes all the senses in your mouth and palate. Your taste-buds will come alive!
This morning, I was at the Voyage India arts & crafts fair at 1st Avenue when I came across D’Chat Masala, manned by two strikingly-beautiful sisters, Mahalakshmi and Nivitha. They concocted the freshest, tastiest 𝙥𝙖𝙣𝙞 𝙥𝙪𝙧𝙞 I’d had in a long time!