[Butterworth, Malaysia] Pani puri from D'Chat Masala

I absolutely adore π™₯π™–π™£π™ž π™₯π™ͺπ™§π™ž 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 π™—π™€π™€π™£π™™π™ž (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 π™₯π™–π™£π™ž π™₯π™ͺπ™§π™žπ™¨ in Mumbai, and also in Delhi, where they are sometimes called π™œπ™€π™‘π™œπ™–π™₯π™₯𝙖. 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 𝙛π™ͺπ™˜π™π™ π™–. 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 π™₯π™–π™£π™ž π™₯π™ͺπ™§π™ž - 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 π™–π™’π™˜π™π™€π™€π™§ (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 π™₯π™–π™£π™ž π™₯π™ͺπ™§π™ž 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 π™₯π™–π™£π™ž π™₯π™ͺπ™§π™ž I’d had in a long time!

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My local Mumbai street food restaurant does a wonderful pani puri - but those you’ve just had also look fab.

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Love your posts! :heart:

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Prior to 2005/2006, one would be hard-pressed to find North Indian chaats in Singapore or Malaysia - those street foods were simply from a different food culture, and totally different from the Tamil/Sri Lankan-dominated type of street foods we get in Singapore/Malaysia.
I get to relish those chaats only when I’m on business trips to Mumbai, Delhi or any of the Indian cities.

Then, with the wave of Indian professionals, mainly IT professionals, coming to work in Singapore/Malaysia in the mid-2000s onwards, chaats (together with other North Indian foods) became more widely available.

But, even Penang today where pani puri has become quite common-place, there are good, and there are bad, and I do mean very bad pani puris offered by those who simply wanted to jump on the bandwagon.

These ones from D’Chat Masala were the best I’d had in a long time!

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Thank you. :gift_heart: :gift_heart:

I’ve had pani puri in India and NYC but had never seen it in Thailand until a few months ago. Then, all of a sudden, every Indian restaurant started selling it. I thought that was an odd coincidence since it appears that pani puri would be too labor intensive given that most restaurants are still struggling to survive in Chiang Mai. Then one day, as we were walking out of our favorite Indian restaurant, we saw the empty boxes of commercially made pani puri balls stacked by the garbage.
I assume the ones you’re getting are made fresh.

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Oh yes, and using fresh puris makes a whole world of difference!

One of my colleagues took me to an ayce buffet in iselin, nj specifically for their pani puri…I loved them but he ate an embarrassing amount. The owner was very nice about it and was charmed when my colleague compared them favorably to what he grew up with in mumbai.

The street food in Mumbai is legendary but my colleague warned me away as he was positive I’d get sick. In fact, one if his regrets in moving to the US is that his stomach can no longer tolerate mumbai street food. In the end, it may not have mattered, as I got pretty sick towards the end of the trip.

thank you for the wonderful post!

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I’m terribly afraid of getting sick, but it didn’t stop me from trying to explore. One tip my local colleagues gave me was to always go for busy stalls, especially those with long queues - the food would be fresh then.

The last time I was in Mumbai, I didn’t get sick, but my two Singaporean staff who came with me got really ill: from eating McDonalds’ chicken burgers!!

They were okay for the first two weeks when we stuck to hot, freshly-cooked local food. I’d told them to stay away from salads, sandwiches, or anything which may have been handled & served to them at room temperature.

Thank you!
I was supposed to go back to Mumbai for a vacation in Aug 2020 - we’d made a list of Parsi cafes to visit. Then, COVID hit, and the world’s borders shut down. :frowning_face:

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Bessarabsky Market, Kyiv. Ukraine
Credit: Juan Antonio Segal, Flickr