Sunday, February 22, 2015

Masala Puri - a chat you can never have enough of..

The Groundhog peeped out a couple of weeks back, I didn't get a chance to chat with it and ask its opinion about an early spring but I am pretty sure the weather is warming up. I notice warm sun in late mornings & afternoons, glorious Daffodils lighting up the pathway with their bright yellow colors and fragrant Magnolias are showing up their pretty pinks or lovely whites. We moved our hibiscus plants outdoors last week, still holding on to the remaining pots with sensitive plants inside. Time to put the heavy jackets inside and walk up exposed to some direct wind and sun :-)
With inlaws rested a bit, we drove up the mountains yesterday, a little chilly for them still but totally enjoyed the views and the accumulated snow. As always, had packed food for lunch from home, stopped and took pictures everywhere as is the habit and reached back home in the evening. DD is getting ready for school start tomorrow after a week of mid winter break. Didn't seem like she had a lot of time to lazy around as she has been working on one or the other project but she looks much more relaxed than what she did a couple of weeks back.

To celebrate the holiday week, I made masala puri yet again today. If I had posted recipes in the order of my love for them, this would have been at the top of the list but then I don't do that, do I? Infact, some of my favoritest recipes are yet to come just because I always feel that I don't do justice to them either with the pics or with words when I post them :-). This one has reached many palates, tried times over, gathered compliments from all around and when friends have asked for the recipe, I have just shared it offline to their incredulous, "You mean, you don't have it on the blog yet?", I know, it is strange but finally here it is, a much loved dinner menu at home - masala puri from the South of India. First of all this is not poori - the deep fried, leavened bread Indian cuisine has made famous world over. This does have pooris (though much smaller, flatter, crisper and crunchier) but has a lot more on top of the pooris (or papdis as they are referred to).

Yes, we eat this as dinner and don't make anything else when I make this for a weekend dinner, usually Sunday nights. And yes, yes, this is from the South of India. Though, Mumbai & Kolkata are touted as the chat centers of India with their innumerable versions of chats (quick, spicy eats), I haven't seen this version of chat outside of Mysore & Bengaluru regions. The ultra common sev puri, dahi puri etc do not stand a chance next to this masala puri (that is my opinion and I think it is totally justified :-)). If you are stopping to have a chat anywhere in Mysore or Bengaluru in the evenings, give this a try. I promise you it will be totally worth it and a great change from the usual favorites.
When chats had still not come of age in our little, quaint Mysore, there were not so many outlets to enjoy them. With health conscious parents at home, we never had outside food on a regular basis either. There was a Maharaja (yep, most things in Mysore are royalty atleast by name :-)) hotel which had a chat center for public. That is where I first had my masala puri and fell in love with it. I don't ever look around for anything if the guy (or girl) is making masala puri as I enjoy it more than all other possible combinations.

Yep, chats are basically combinations of certain basic ingredients. You will find things like chopped onion, tomatoes, cilantro, boiled, mashed potatoes in almost every chat in addition to the chat chutneys. Then there is something crunchy (like pooris or puffed rice), spicy (like sev). Mix & match them the way it pleases you personally. So, why is the masala puri special? Because, the masala (spicy gravy or ragda) is a perfect blend of tastes and when mixed with other chat essentials and served piping hot is nothing but a purely magical experience.
This recipe needs some planning and has prep work to bring everything together. I have tried to deconstruct the process to make it easier for anyone preparing it for the first time. Read the recipe completely once before you embark on the journey, make sure you have the ingredients.

What do you need to make Masala puri? 
25-30 small chat puris (make at home or buy from the store)
1.5 cups dried green peas
For the masala/spicy gravy: 
1 cup onion roughly chopped
1 cup tomato roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 big bay leaf
1 inch piece ginger - peeled
2-3 green chilies (adjust to taste)
1.5 inch piece of cinnamon
3-4 cloves
5-7 black pepper corns
1.5 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1 Tsp garam masala powder
1/2 Tsp amchoor (dry mango powder)
1/2 Tsp red chili powder
1 Tbsp oil
For serving masala puri: 
puris as needed
finely chopped onion
finely chopped tomatoes
1 potato - boiled, peeled and mashed into small chunks
finely chopped cilantro
tamarind-date chutney
Thin sev(fried gram flour noodles) - for garnish, you get this in Indian grocery stores
red chili powder
roasted cumin powder

How do you make Masala puri? 
Making of masala/spicy gravy
  • Soak dried green peas in hot water for about 3 hours or in cold water over night. 
  • Rinse and wash the soaked peas, and put them in a pressure cooker along with the bay leaf, 3 cups water and 1/2 Tsp salt
  • Cook (with weight on) for 1 or 2 whistles (peas should be cooked soft but hold their shape firmly)
  • Let the cooker cool down completely. 
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan, add cinnamon, cloves, clack pepper and saute for a minute until you get the cinnamon smell. 
  • Add crushed garlic cloves, slit green chilies and ginger and saute for 30 seconds. 
  • Add onions and continue to fry until onions turn translucent. 
  • Add tomato chunks and let them all cook for 3-4 minutes until slightly mushy. 
  • Switch off and let cool. 
  • Open the pressure cooker, with a slotted spoon, take out about a cup of cooked peas and keep aside. 
  • Take the cooked onion mixture and the rest of the cooked peas and grind them to a smooth paste in a blender. (Make sure everything is cool before grinding)
  • Heat a big pan or use the pressure cooker like I do, pour the ground paste, add 2 cups of water and salt. Let it come to a good rolling boil on medium heat so the onion & tomato smell disappears. 
  • Add the dry powders (red chili, garam masala & amchoor), taste and adjust spices as needed. 
  • Remember the gravy thickens as it cools down. If you are not using it immediately, make the consistency watery. 
  • When you serve masala puri, the gravy has to be piping hot. 
Assembling masala puri (this is a totally personalized way of assembly, adjust any of the ingredients to suit your taste)
  • Take a wide plate, crush 5-6 puris so they become bite sized pieces, spread them to make a bed of puris.
  • Add a spoonful of cooked peas you reserved earlier. 
  • Add chopped onions 
  • Add chopped tomatoes
  • Add potatoes
  • Sprinkle red chili powder
  • Sprinkle roasted cumin powder
  • Pour a couple of ladles of the hot gravy on top
  • Add spoonful of tamarind-date chutney
  • Top it with thin sev and chopped cilantro and extra onions if you like
  • Take a spoon, start from the side of the plate and dig in :-)
  • Never use frozen peas in this recipe
  • Dried yellow peas can be an alternative to green peas but I prefer the green ones for their taste. 
  • The gravy needs to be hot (both temperature and spice level) for this dish. When you eat this on the streets, you typically cry (with joy and happiness) :-)
  • If you forgot to soak the peas overnight, you can use the short cut and soak them for a couple of hours in hot water. 
  • Do not overcook peas else they become completely mushy. 
  • Play around with the gravy - I experiment with green chilies, black peppers, cinnamon and cloves depending on the mood of the day. 
  • Skip garlic if you don't like it, I started using it recently since both DD & BH love the flavor. The advantage with this recipe is that not a single flavor stands out, they all mix in the melting pot of the gravy and lose their individuality to create a wonderful mixture. 


NamsVeni Pothas said...

lovely and tasty recipe. but preparation takes much longer time. very good time to take in the evening.

Arefa said...

I tried your recipe, must tell it tasted awesome.. Thank you for the recipe๐Ÿ˜Š

Soumya lakshmi said...

Thnx for the recipe mam.plz tell me how to prepare crispy pooris

Nagashree Ravi said...

@Soumya Lakshmi - Thank you for stopping by, check my pani puri post which has home made puri preperation.
If you want papdis, make sure you poke puris with a fork before frying so they don't puff up but remain flat and crispy

shubha s said...

This is one of the most accurate recipe of those Gaadi masala puri. Tried tje recipe n this recipe os a keeper. Thanks a ton.
The ingredients r easy to remember n does take much compared to all tje other recipes what i have tried.
Thank you๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ˜˜