We were always in awe of these starters when we went out for an Indian; they seemed so delicately crafted we didn’t ever think it’d be possible to make even halfway decent ones at home. They look so impressive and unusual that we had to give them a go, and it was fun trying something so new and different to what we usually do.
You can serve these as canapés if you master them so that they all puff up evenly and perfectly, or you can serve one or two as a starter at a small dinner party, or you can just keep them to yourself… You can even make larger ones if you’d rather they accompanied your main dish, but whichever you choose, we’re certain they’ll go down well and burst full of flavour.
You will need… (serves two):
For the chana masala:
- Half a can of chickpeas, drained
- Half a red onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
- Half a can of chopped tomatoes
- ½ mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon of cumin
- ½ teaspoon of garam masala
- ½ teaspoon of turmeric
- ½ green chilli
- A medium handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper, adjust according to your taste
- You may need a splash of water to stop it from drying out and a couple of fresh and whole cherry tomatoes add a nice texture too!
- A splash of sunflower oil or a teaspoon of coconut oil, depending on your preference
For the puri:
- 1 ½ cups whole-wheat flour or atta
- ½ tsp coconut oil
- a sprinkle of salt
- ½ cup of water or so
- Vegetable oil to fry
- Sev and Bhel mixture (dried noodle pieces and puffed rice that can be bought from Indian stores – if you are London based there is a great little one in Euston on Drummond Street, or ‘Taj Stores’ just off Brick Lane in Shoreditch).
- Mango chutney
- Vegan yoghurt
- Other dips/sauces of your choice
We suggest cooking your chana masala first so that your dish can cool slightly and the spices have longer to infuse, so first you want to heat your mustard seeds. Stir these in the saucepan on a medium heat for about 2 minutes, until they have darkened slightly in colour, then pour in your chosen oil.
Once it has heated up slightly, tip in your onion, chilli and your spices. Keep stirring so that the spices are evenly spread and if the mixture starts to dry out, add a splash of water. Next chuck in your garlic and cook for a further 2-3 minutes; if you are adding whole cherry tomatoes, throw these in now too so that they have a chance to reduce.
Stir in your chickpeas, chopped tomatoes and a little salt and pepper and leave for a couple of minutes. Once the chopped tomatoes have broken down, give it a taste and adjust accordingly. You may want to add a dash more cumin and salt, it’s up to you and how tomato-ey or spicy you like your chana masala!
Add a tiny splash more water, chuck in most of your chopped coriander (leave a little to garnish) and give it one last stir before putting a lid on top and setting aside whilst you make your puri’s.
First you want to sieve the whole-wheat flour with some salt, and then add your melted coconut oil.
Next, add a little bit of water at a time and knead until a stiff and tight dough is formed – make sure you don’t add too much water and that it doesn’t become sticky, (you may not need to use all the water)!
Once you are happy with the texture of the dough, divide it into small pieces – the dough should make around ten. Turn these into small balls then roll each ball out into a very small circle, each piece should be close to the size of a two penny coin.
Now get a deep frying pan, or a wok will do, and heat up a very generous amount of sunflower oil until it starts to sizzle. Once it is sufficiently hot, add each puri at a time and gently pat/pressdown on the top of the disc so that it should start to puff up. Flip it over and do the same to the other side until it is a nice golden brown – don’t let it get too dark as it will taste burnt and also won’t be anywhere near as aesthetically pleasing!
Once cooked, transfer to some paper towel on a plate so that any excess oil can be soaked up.
Once your puri’s have cooled, you want to crack a small hole in the top of each so that the inside of the puris can be filled with your chana masala. We usually don’t fill ours until the chana mixture has cooled down, otherwise the bottoms of the puri’s can tend to get a little soggy!
When both are at a temperature that you’re satisfied with, fill a teaspoon or so of chana mixture into each puri, add some mango chutney and sprinkle your bhel and sev mixture on top and garnish with coriander.
We advise putting a whole one in your mouth so that the delicious filling bursts out once the shell has cracked…but of course, it’s entirely up to you – enjoy!