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Bhel Puri

Bhel puri is a puffed rice dish made with vegetables, spices, fruit and various chutneys. It is a type of chaat (a term that means “small plates of savory snacks”), particularly identified with the beaches of Mumbai (Bombay).

There are hundreds (some say thousands) of recipes for bhel puri. Some include puffed rice, sev (a fried snack shaped like thin noodles made from ground chickpeas), and a combination of different types of fried snacks mixed together, as the foundation of the dish. Other commonly used ingredients include tomatoes, onions and chiles added to the base; northern recipes typically add boiled and cut potatoes.

Bhel puri is best consumed as soon as it is made. If left alone, the liquid from the vegetables (typically tomato, onion, potato), chutneys and other ingredients combine to render the sev and puffed rice soggy.

This recipe isn’t authentic — but it sure is terrific.

Bhel puri

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2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large firm tomato, diced
1 small onion, peeled and cut into small dice
1/4 cup golden raisins
juice of half a lime
1/2 cup puffed rice and sev snack mix
handful of mint, chopped
handful of cilantro, chopped
pinch of kosher salt

Bring a pot of salted water to a gentle simmer. Add potatoes and cook until potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, then shock immediately in ice water. Drain thoroughly and put potatoes in a large bowl.

Add the tomato, onion, puffed rice snack mix, raisins and lime juice. Stir thoroughly. Taste for salt if necessary (you shouldn’t need much), sprinkle with mint and cilantro and serve at once. Can be eaten as a snack all by itself, or with yogurt or cottage cheese for a light vegetarian lunch. Bhel puri is also served with a chutney, which can range from the typical mint and/or tamarind chutneys to more unusual varieties such as coconut chutney, date chutney or banana chutney.

Time: 30 minutes, including prep.

(1)Available in Indian grocery stores or specialty shops.

2 replies »

    • Most Indian restaurants that people experience are based on northern Indian cuisine (i.e., lamb korma, pork vindaloo). South Indian food and the food of Goa (e.g., shrimp curry) are more uncommon. It needn’t be that way of course — all it takes is a little education.

      I’d really love to learn how to make iddly (lentil doughnuts). I had some recently at Saravaanas, a South Indian vegetarian place here in NYC, and they were divine.


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