Padma Lakshmi, a culinary connoisseur, swears by the tantalizing allure of spicy mint pani puri. Bursting with flavors and textures, these bite-sized delights are a cherished street food in India. The magic lies in the delicate balance of small, fried hollow puffs, generously stuffed with a chaat masala-infused potato-and-chickpea filling. The key? Pouring the spicy mint water at the last second to preserve the puri’s crispy perfection.
Making the Pani (Spicy Mint Water)
- 1 1/4 cups cold water, divided
- 1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped unripe green mango
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped serrano chile (seeded, if desired)
- 1 teaspoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon chaat masala
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon bhuna jeera (roasted cumin powder)
- Pinch of kala namak (black salt)
- Pinch of sea salt
- Blend the fresh ingredients, including mint, cilantro, green mango, serrano chile, ginger, chaat masala, sugar, bhuna jeera, kala namak, and sea salt, creating a flavorful elixir.
- Strain and refrigerate this minty magic.
Making the Filling
- 1 small russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 3/4 cup drained and rinsed chickpeas (from 1 can)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon chaat masala
- 1/2 teaspoon red chile powder (such as Kashmiri)
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Canola oil, for frying
- 24 dried pani puri coins (such as Rani)
- For the filling, cut down the potatoes and then boil them. Cook potato pieces until tender, then mash with chickpeas, cilantro, chaat masala, red chile powder, and sea salt. Fry pani puri coins until golden, creating crispy vessels.
- A medium Dutch oven prepped with canola oil, heated to a precise 350°F, is the stage for transforming store-bought dried pani puri coins into crispy perfection. Each coin, carefully dropped into the hot oil, puffs and turns golden brown in a matter of seconds.
- The result is a paper towel–lined tray of golden delights, ready to be filled with the savory concoction. Crack them open, fill them with the delectable mixture, and let guests pour the spicy mint water just before savoring these bite-sized delights. Padma Lakshmi’s Pani Puri is an explosion of flavors and textures, a testament to the culinary artistry rooted in Indian street food tradition.
If you are planning a luxurious and private vacation with high-end dining, delicious food, and nature’s tranquillity, Cayo Espanto is the place for you. Belize’s exclusive private island is just three miles off the coast of San Pedro and a seven-minute boat ride from the famous tourist location, Ambergris Caye. Cayo Espanto, surrounded by the sapphire-blue Caribbean Sea, is built on four acres of land filled with white sand, tropical palms, and exotic flowers, offering spellbinding sceneries, exceptional cuisines, and a world-class dining experience.
Lay of the Land
The lavish island only has seven villas, each offering a unique view of paradise. The rates start from $1,600 a night and go up to $3,000. The pricing includes three paid meals, snacks, and beverages. Moreover, to have the perfect one-of-a-kind luxurious experience, you should go ahead and book a private flight from Astrum Helicopters straight from the mainland to Cayo Espanto rather than taking the traditional route of flights and motorboats. Visit the world’s second-largest barrier reef system, explore water sports on the beach, take up diving, go bone fishing or on exotic jungle tours, and make the best out of staying on the intimate secluded island.
Chef Richard Gillett
Alongside the grand escape to privacy and nature, Cayo Espanto has much more to offer. A local, Belize-born chef Richard Gillett has taken the reins as the executive chef of the island, after cooking exceptional food for more than four decades in some of the country’s finest kitchens. His menu includes local seafood and freshly-caught fish, with daily-rotating dishes like lime-soaked salads, grilled Caribbean lobster, Belikin-battered fish tacos, and mouth-watering conch ceviche. The best part of Cayo Espanto, apart from being the most elegant island, is that you don’t have to go out to eat – the food comes to you per your requirements. You can have your lunch on your villa’s private dock or beach or find a secluded spot to enjoy the food with a mesmerizing view.