Our five favourite places for pani puri in KL and PJ

KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 — No street food snack has such a devoted following. In fact, that devotion has spun eating competitions, including one that was immortalised in the Bollywood movie Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi starring Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma (watch the YouTube video!).

Die-hard fans have penned dedications online or searched for the best pani puri in India. In different regions of India, the snack takes on different names so you may know it as gol gappa, puchka, panni ke patasche, pakodi or even gup chup.

Essentially it’s crispy deep fried puffy shells or puri made with a mix of semolina and maida flour. Each hollow shell is filled with a mixture of potatoes, onions, chickpeas, and topped with tamarind chutney.

Depending on the stall, you also have crunchy boondi. You either dip or pour the pani or flavoured water that is spicy and sweet into the shells and pop it in your mouth to get a variety of textures and flavours.

In India, pani puri is usually found on the streets where vendors peddle mountains of the crispy shells to be filled with pani when people buy them. It’s not just limited to street food fare as even Bangkok’s Gaggan restaurant (it has been crowned Asia’s Best Restaurant for three consecutive years) has introduced the snack in their emoji menu, where dishes are illustrated just by an emoji illustration.

Here in Malaysia, some restaurants serve it throughout the day while some limit it to their teatime chaat menu from 3pm onwards. You can also get a variety of puri snacks with various fillings in a few eateries.

The Ganga Cafe

19, Lorong Kurau, Bangsar, KL

Open: 8.30am to 9.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays)

10am to 3pm (Sundays)

Snack on these crispy shells filled with potatoes, onions and a dab of chutney made with dates, jaggery and tamarind. The pani or mint water is served in a bowl with boondi for you to dip your crispy shells in so enjoy every bite of the snack.

The snack is available throughout the day at this vegetarian cafe. On Sundays, the cafe only serves a vegetarian brunch menu so pani puri is not available.

Restoran Chat Masala

259, Jalan Tun Sambanthan, Brickfields, KL

Opens daily: 9am to 9.30pm

From 3pm onwards, it is time to snack on these crispy treats. The crispy shells (one serving has four shells) are filled to the brim with boiled potatoes, sev or crunchy noodles, toasted peanuts and chickpeas.

Each puri is topped with a thick tamarind chutney. Pour in the mint water and enjoy with a cup of masala tea. If you love puri, there are various types like paani chole puri with chickpeas, masala puri where the crispy puri is soaked in a spicy masala gravy, dahi puri with yoghurt and paneer pani puri that is stuffed with cottage cheese.

Delhi Snacks Cafe

36, Persiaran Ara Kiri, Lucky Gardens, Bangsar, KL

Open:10am to 9pm

Closed on Mondays

This new spot in Bangsar, decked out in cheery red and yellow shades, serves mainly vegetarian snacks like pav bhaji and papdi chaat. They also offer a small lunch menu.

Here, their pani puri is elegantly served on a long plate. Each shell is stuffed with potatoes, chickpeas and delicate crispy sev. Your pani is served with boondi and comes in a small jug so you can easily pour the pani into the shells. Pair it with their hot fresh milk masala tea where you can adjust the sweetness to your liking.

WTF Restaurant

98, Lorong Maarof, Bangsar Park, KL

Opens daily: 11am to 11pm

At this restaurant, you’re served pani puri D-I-Y style. Lightly tap the hollow shells (you’re given 10 pieces) to make a hole and fill it with boiled potatoes and chickpeas.

Spoon the pani (two types; mint and tamarind) and quickly pop them in your mouth. The restaurant also serves a variety of puri snacks like dahi puri that is drizzled with yoghurt. You can also get sev puri that is topped with dates, coriander chutney and delicate crispy sev that is made from gram flour.

Punjabi Vegetarian Stall

Stall No. 8, City One Plaza Foodcourt, Level 2, Jalan Munshi Abdullah, KL

This stall is operated by Malkit Singh who hails from New Delhi. Even though this version is known as pani puri on their menu, it’s more like a dahi puri since it’s drizzled with dahi or cold yoghurt and a variety of chutneys.

The flavours tend to be more intense hence they’re incredibly enjoyable. He also makes samosas that are substantial enough for lunch.

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