Mister Mao’s Pani Puri

By: The Local Palate
pani puri from Mister Mao

Sophina Uong of Mister Mao in New Orleans is never short on flavor. Having recently been nominated as a semifinalist for James Beard’s Best Chef in the South 2024, Uong is known for infusing her personal zing into global dishes. Here, she shares her popular take on pani puri.

recipe heading-plus-icon


Makes 24 pani puri

    For the potato masala filling
  • Makes 1½ quarts
  • 4 cups cooked yukon gold potato
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seed
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon urad dal (lentil)
  • 1 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 1 teaspoon black salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried lime
  • 1 tablespoon kashmiri chile powder
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cup grapeseed oil
  • For the fire water
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 quart ice
  • 1 teaspoon toasted cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon Indian black salt
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind puree
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid (lime juice alternatively)
  • 5-15 serrano peppers
  • 1 bunch mint
  • 2 bunches cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • For the pani puri
  • 24 pani puri shells
  • 1 teaspoon of tamarind chutney per shell
  • 4-6 strawberries, sliced for garnish
  • micro cilantro for garnish

Make the Potato Masala Filling and Pani

  1. Fry the pani puri shells in a neutral oil. Once they have cooled, open them by lightly tapping with the backside of a spoon.
  2. Sauté urad dal until toasty and nutty.
  3. Add black mustard and cook until it sputters, remove from heat.
  4. Add cumin, asafoetida, dried lime, black salt, and chili powder.
  5. Add cooked chickpeas and potatoes and salt. Mash together into a filling. Allow to cool and put into a piping bag.
  6. Pipe the filling into the toasted pani puri shells.

Make the Fire Water

  1. Blend ingredients together with the ice water. Strain through a mesh strainer. Add the remaining quart of water to the mix. The fire water should be refreshingly spicy, slightly sweet tart from tamarind + citric acid.

Assemble the Pani Puri

  1. Place a few fried chickpeas at the bottom of the shells to give them volume.
  2. Pipe (or spoon) the potato masala into the pani shells, filling about ¾ of the shell. Press the mixture in so it remains compact.
  3. Drizzle the tamarind chutney into the shells to fill in the gaps.
  4. Add one slice of strawberry per pani shell and top with micro cilantro.
  5. Serve with fire water for dipping and drizzling.
  • Recipe by
    Sophina Uong of Mister Mao in New Orleans
  • Contributing City
    New Orleans

Keep Reading


Potato Masala Pani Puri with Date and Tamarind Chutney

This pani puri recipe is a combination of multiple cultures, but holds true to [...]


Tamarind Coconut Burrata

This Tamarind Coconut Burrata is one of many dishes you can try at chef [...]


Kabocha Squash Biryani Casserole

Maneet Chauhuan of Ale & Masala House in Nashville shares her earthy and filling [...]

Leave a Reply

Be the first to comment.

The Wine Lover Issue


1 year for only $24.99

1 year
for only $24.99

Subscribe and Save 72%!

Suscribe Now
The Travel Issue