Padma Lakshmi Swears by Spicy Mint Pani Puri

Reddit // u/AssortedCooking

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
Reddit // u/Idontdosh**atwork


  1. 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.
  2. 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)
Reddit // u/akki161014


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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