Dahi Puri at Sweet n Namkin
This week's cafe review found me at Sweet n Namkin / Salaam Namaste, a dual-sided and jointly-owned Desi restaurant in Meadows Place (also home to favorites BB's Beef & Hot Dog and the yet-to-be-reviewed Suya Hut). On the Salaam Namaste side of the house, expect lots of meat and manly things: snooker tables, cricket bats behind the register, musky incense, dark colors and cricket matches on the TVs. It's highly alluring in its way.
Photos by Troy Fields Step right up at Sweet n Namkin.
Through the adjoining door, you'll find its polar opposite: a peacock-hued and brightly lit chaat house presided over by a motherly woman named Amy. No meat on the menu here; only 100 percent vegetarian treats like pakora and paratha as well as all manner of puri. From that large and regularly updated menu, it's the dahi puri I like best.
As it was my friend Dr. Ricky who first brought me here, it only seems right to link to his recent blog post on the many permutations of dahi puri available here in Houston. Like many Indian/Pakistani chaat -- or snack -- dishes, there is no one singular recipe for dahi puri. It can contain any number of ingredients inside the puffed-up puri shell: potatoes, onions, chickpeas, tomatoes, dates, several different kinds of chutney, yogurt, ginger, cilantro, chili powder, cumin...and sev on top, if you're lucky. All that's really required are yogurt (the "dahi" part of the name) and the puri themselves.
The best thing about this chaat dish is that all of the items are made in advance, so you can assemble your dahi puri when the mood hits you (or, more likely, at the big dinner you're planning on hosting in a day or two). It's equally fun to prep the ingredients ahead of time and invite your friends over to make their own individual dahi puri.
In the photos below, Amy showed our photographer, Troy Fields, how they make the dahi puri in the kitchen at Sweet n Namkin, from start to [almost] finish.
Start with a plate of puri. Punch a hole in the top with your thumb and begin spooning the "hard" ingredients inside, such as chickpeas. Pour plenty of tamarind chutney on top. And plenty of mint-coriander chutney, too. Yogurt, the most important ingredient, is one of the last steps. Top it off with ground cumin and then crispy sev (not pictured) and serve to your delighted guests.
For more colorful behind-the-scenes photos from both Sweet n Namkin and Salaam Namaste, check out our slideshow.