A snack with almost iconic status in the western region of India, bhel puri (or bhelpuri) is a low-fat, nutritious, and delicious food. It is a chaat, which is a spicy food that is typically sold via street carts throughout the region.
This is a puffed rice snack that can be eaten by the spoonful or scooped onto a flatbread or chip. Some places serve it in a paper cone and it's eaten directly from there.
In general, bhel puri is made with puffed rice and sev (a vermicelli-like snack made from gram flour), both of which are available at Indian markets. These dry ingredients are then mixed with onions, potatoes, chat masala, and chutney. It is spicy, but also sweet, tart, and salty and can be adapted to enhance any of those characteristics. The versatility in taste is the beauty of bhel puri.
- 3 cups puffed rice
- 1 handful peanuts (roasted and salted)
- 2 potatoes (boiled, peeled, and chopped into tiny cubes)
- 1 large onion (finely chopped)
- 1 large tomato (finely chopped)
- 1/2 bunch coriander (approximately 1/10 pound or 50 grams, finely chopped)
- 2 chilies (green, finely chopped)
- Tamarind chutney to taste
- Mint-coriander chutney to taste
- 1 handful papdi (coarsely crushed)
- 1 cup sev
- In a large bowl, mix the puffed rice, peanuts, potato, onion, tomato, coriander, and green chilies together.
- Add the tamarind chutney or mint-coriander chutney according to your own taste preferences.
- Mix the entire contents of the bowl well.
- Garnish with plenty of sev and papdi. Serve and eat immediately.
Tips for Great Bhel Puri
Assemble the bhel puri just before you are going to eat it to prevent the puffed rice from getting soggy.
To make this snack even more quickly, simply store the puffed rice, sev, and papdi (savory biscuits made from flour) in air-tight containers. Then pre-make and either refrigerate or freeze the chutney. This allows you to toss the wet and dry ingredients together on a whim and prevents that unwanted sogginess.
Various chutneys give bhel puri different flavors. A saunth chutney, for instance, is a dark, sweet chutney derived from tamarind and dates. In contrast, a green spicy chutney uses green chilies and coriander that leaves for a very distinctive taste. If you have another favorite chutney, try that as well.
Bhel Puri Goes by Many Names
Some say that this snack originated in Mumbai, which, according to research, is a common belief. The dry version of bhel puri is known as bhadang, which is spiced with lemon juice, coriander and onions. The Kolkata version is called jhaal muri. Another kind is known in Bangalore as churumuri or churmuri.