Flour crisps stuffed with peas and served with spiced water. Serve these as a starter at an Indian-themed dinner party. This famed Indian street food has many names: golgappe in the north, puchka in Bengal, and pani puri in Maharashtra. It is sold from large earthenware pots covered with damp red cloths and glass cases filled with puris (small deep-fried breads that look like crisp, hollow balloons). All one has to do is hold a patrel, a flat roll made of dried colocassia leaves, and the vendor will take one puri, crack it open on the top to make a small hole, and fill it with peas and chutney, and then dip it into the spicy water and place it on your bowl, dripping with the aromatic water. You have to eat them as fast as the vendor can assemble them — these guys are speedy and can manage three or four customers at a time! When you've eaten as many as you'd like, you hold up your hand and signal him to stop. He knows how much to charge you for what you've eaten even though you will likely have lost count.
1-1/4 cups vatana (dried white peas)
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
Pinch of asafetida
1 tsp table salt
4 tsp chaat masala
3-4 tbsp khajoor aur imli ki chutney (sweet date and tamarind chutney)
1 cup chopped fresh mint
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
5 green chilies, stemmed and cut in half
1/2 tsp table salt
2 tsp black salt
1 tbsp ground roasted cumin
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
24 crisp puris (meant for pani puri; store-bought)
Step 1: Make the ragda: Put the vatana in a large bowl, wash in plenty of water 2 or 3 times, and drain. Add 4 cups water and soak overnight. Drain the peas in a colander.
Step 2: Place a nonstick saucepan over high heat and add 4 cups water. Add the turmeric, asafetida, and salt. When the water begins to boil, add the peas. When the water comes to a boil again, lower the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 30-35 minutes or until the peas are soft.
Step 3: Mash the peas slightly. Add the chaat masala and chutney, and simmer for 10 minutes. Keep the ragda hot.
Reprinted with permission from Sanjeev Kapoor's How To Cook Indian (2011 Stewart, Tabori & Chang).