cook in a curry

Bhel puri

My fondness for all things street food continues! Frankly I think it’s not something I’ll ever let go. Like a lot of people; the fact that I only get a few chances to eat the real thing in India; the next best option is to cook it for family & friends introducing everyone to the flavours you reminisce about. And sharing the experience of how delicious a dish can be when you step outside the box.
Bhel puri is one such street food dish that is available everywhere you go in Mumbai/ Bombay. Every street corner, outside colleges, at Indian fast food restaurants you’ll find this ‘signature’ dish and it does help that it’s an all time favourite. Like a lot of dishes in India a few regions have their own variety of Bhel. The east of India has a similar version known as ‘Jhal Muri’.

What makes this dish so special is a mix of ingredients lending something different in every spoonful. Crispy puffed rice & puris with crunchy red onions, soft potato, tangy raw mango, sweet and sour tamarind chutney & a hint of spice with the minty flavour of green chutney. Gorgeous!
I have to say THIS Bhel puri is as close as you can get to the Bombay Bhel! Once I made the dish I really couldn’t contain my excitement of sampling it and also realising how close I was to the real thing (a compliment from an Indian friend who popped over to sample some chaat). It’s a dish that’s easy to assemble once you have done all the prep work. But to get the most out of it Bhel puri must be eaten straight away for the crispy crunchy flavours. Once all the chutneys get soaked into the puffed rice, potatoes, onions they tend to get soggy if left any longer. Though saying that it still wouldn’t stop me from eating it!

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I used all the ingredients normally that you would find in street stall bhel puri dishes. I have added ‘papdi’ a round disc shaped dry crispy puri, which is what the bhel gets served with. I make my own papdi at home and have added a recipe for it at the end of this post. Though it’s something that you can buy ready in Asian stores. But it’s easy to make & I tend to make it every few months as it stores well.

It’s something I do because it reminds me of home. There are bakeries/ savoury vendors in India that sell this kind of savoury snack freshly made, including freshly made crispy puff pastry and crisps. As a young girl, my mother and I would make a trip to the snack shop to collect them and considering we visited so frequently we always knew the people behind the counter so while we waited to pick up a fresh batch of papdi, I would sit on a little chair sampling some of the goodies that were being made. Taking the warm bags of snacks home, we would store it in steel containers. My mother would make some masala tea for the family with the papdi to accompany it. Crispy, fresh and savoury with a cuppa always works a treat. Even today that’s usually how I eat it and savour every minute of it.

With Bhel puri in particular, being part of the street food brigade there aren’t always spoons or forks. So the papri/ puris do the job of the spoon. These puris are different from the puris in my previous post of chaat. With ‘Papdi’ or flat puris; when you fry them they aren’t meant to puff up and mostly used in the dish to scoop up the contents of the dish. Almost like an edible flat spoon! Feel free to add roasted peanuts to the dish as well if you wish. Also the raw mangoes lend a really tangy kick to the dish. I generally tend to add more than one as I really love the taste.

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Ingredients

300gms puffed rice
100gms sev (vermicelli crispy snack)
2 small potatoes boiled and roughly crushed
1 green chilli finely chopped or more if you like it spicy
2 medium red onions finely chopped
2 tbsp roughly chopped coriander
1 small raw mango finely chopped
1 large tomato finely chopped
5-7 flat papdi or puris
3 tbsp tamarind chutney
5 tbsp mint & coriander chutney

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In a bowl mix together the puffed rice along with the sev, crushed potatoes, chilli, red onion, chopped mango and coriander. Mix well. Add the chutneys a little at a time and toss. Pile it onto a sharing plate or individual portions. Top with a bit more of the raw mango & chopped tomato. Serve immediately with puris on the plate. Enjoy!

The recipes for the chutneys are available in my previous post of Dahi Batata Puri.

For the puris you will need;

100gms All purpose flour/ plain flour
25gms semolina
1 tbsp vegetable oil
50mls water
Oil for deep frying

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Knead all the ingredients to a dough. You want to make sure that the dough isn’t sticky. Leave to rest for 10-12mins in cling film or wrapped in a damp cloth. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into approx 14cm diameter disc. With the help of a cutter; cut out the disc shapes. Prick each disc with a fork all over. Heat the oil in a wok or a deep pan frying the papdi 2 at a time for a couple of minutes on each side until they are golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper. Serve as required.

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