How to eat a Puchka!

(AKA Pani Poori or Golgappa)

Everyone wants my mother’s puchkas…I think it’s the best in India! The key in having fantastic puchkas is to get the ‘pani’ or water right. I watched my mum’s cook make it this summer and made it for our holi party. BEST pani ever and the easiest too!

1 bag puchka shells (approx. 30)

We buy them from Rajbhog in Jackson Heights, Queens.

Puchka Pani or water:

  • 1 ½ cups water (total)
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup raw mango, diced
  • 2 - 4 small green chillies (depending on how hot your water to be), chopped
  • 1½ tsp roasted ground cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp kala namak (black salt)
  • ½ - 1 tsp sea salt (begin with ½ tsp and add more if needed)
  • 1-2 limes, juiced (begin with 1½ limes and add more if needed)
  • ½ - 1 tsp honey or jaggery or sugar (optional)

This is best made at the last minute so that it has a vibrant green

Puree the cilantro, mint leaves, raw mango and green chillies in a blender with ¼ cup water.
Add all the other ingredients to this including the water. Mix well – taste and adjust the lime and salt. I like my pani to be spicy and add about 3 green chilies. A lot depends on the potency of the green chili. Also raw mango is sometimes extremely sour and sometimes not as sour. So one really has to just taste the water to get the balance right. Adding the honey is my little trick to give just a touch of sweetness.

Once you think you have the water right, you have to taste the whole combination in the puchka shell to see how it all comes together. It is like making a ceramic teapot, you can get the perfect lid, handle and spout but it all has to work well together at the end. Well, it’s not quite as complicated as making a teapot.

Puchka stuffing:

  • 2 large or 3 small potatoes, boiled
  • ¼ cup dried kala chana or desi chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • ½ tsp roasted ground cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp kala namak (black salt)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • pinch to ¼ tsp red chili powder
  • ½ -1 lime, juiced


Pressure cook or boil the desi chickpeas in lightly salted water till soft (see the description of desi chickpeas below).

Mash the potatoes. Mix all the other ingredients. This filling shouldn’t be over the top like the pani. It is more delicate and not overly salty, spicy or sour.

Desi chickpeas

A desi chickpea is smaller and darker and has a rough coat. It is grown mostly in India and other parts of the Indian subcontinent, as well as in Ethiopia, Mexico, and Iran. Desi means 'country' or 'local' in Hindustani; its other names include Bengal gram or kala chana ("black chickpea" in both Hindi and Urdu) or chhola boot. 'Desi' is probably the earliest variety because it closely resembles seeds found both on archaeological sites and the wild plant ancestor Cicer reticulatum of domesticated chickpeas, which only grows in southeast Turkey, where it is believed to have originated. 'Desi' chickpeas have a markedly higher fibre content than other varieties, hence a very low glycemic index, which may make them suitable for people with blood sugar problems. The 'Desi' type is used to make chana dal, which is a split chickpea with the skin removed.