My husband and I were sad when Mahesh moved south to Santa Clara. No more midnight Scrabble runs, no more weekend hikes that end with naps in the sun. But you can't blame a guy for falling in love, buying a beautiful home, and starting an adorable family. Luckily for me, the happy couple still invite me to their dinner parties. One of the most memorable (and delicious!) was a chaat party where they filled and dipped and served an endless stream of pani puri.
Each puri -- a pastry shell that fries up hollow -- is gently thumb-popped to create a bite-sized receptacle for layers and layers of zesty fillings. That night's version included lentils and chile sauce. Other recipes might incorporate potato, chickpeas, tamarind syrup, or yogurt.
The pani "water" picks up green color from fresh cilantro and mint. After filling the shells, our host dips each one in the pani and hands it to the next person in line.
For those who want a bit of kick, a splash of Mahesh's secret ingredient adds some depth to the tamarind water.