Street food is having a bit of a moment in the UK, as we plunder our way through the cuisines of the globe. A vibrant, often healthier alternative to the American chains, street food is exactly that; the recipes and foods found on the streets of various nations. What you might grab for breakfast in Bahrain or lunch in Lahore. Authentic, vibrant; about as far away from the grey British skies as you could possibly get.
Bhel puri is a sweet, sour, hot, cold concoction that will blow your mind on first taste. It is possibly the most interesting thing you will ever eat. From a family of dishes known as chaat, it is one of the most popular foods eaten on the streets of Mumbai. Close your eyes and you can see the swirl of colours, hear the symphony of the streets and feel the hot dust at the back of your throat.
The spice that ties these dishes together is known as chaat masala. A combination of hot and pungent spices, you may as well hunt down the masala itself as the components may be equally elusive. Unfortunately, asafoetida and amchur are not lurking on the supermarket spice rack but you will find chaat masala pretty easily online. Do make the effort as it is well worth it and quite unlike your average spice blend.
The crunchy elements would usually be sourced individually, and if you have an Indian grocer then you may be able to get sev, puffed rice, and roasted raw peanuts. We have cheated slightly though and gone for a ready-made snack called Sev Mamra; it came from a big supermarket. Sev is those long crispy noodles found in Bombay mix. There are also slight variations on the final element. We used crushed poppadoms but if you have an Indian grocer then you might find small crisp almost pastry like snacks that are nearer the real deal. You will also find tamarind paste in large supermarkets.
Recipe for bhel puri
Serves 2 to 4
½ red onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, cored, deseeded and finely chopped
3 boiled potatoes, roughly chopped
4 tbsp. boiled mung beans
1 small bunch coriander, chopped
150g mixed sev, puffed rice and peanuts (sev mamra)
30g poppadoms, crushed
1 tsp chaat masala
Juice of ½ lemon
For the coriander chutney
Small bunch mint
Small bunch coriander
1 green chilli
½ inch ginger
½ tsp salt
1 lemon, juice only
Date and tamarind chutney
6 pitted dates
1 tbsp. tamarind paste
300 ml water
2 tbsp. jaggery or brown sugar
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp chilli powder
- Make the coriander chutney by blitzing together the ingredients until smooth.
- To make the date and tamarind chutney, put the water, paste and dates into a saucepan.
- Simmer until the dates are soft.
- Add the spices with the sugar and cook for a further 5 minutes. Blitz and cool.
- Mix all the ingredients together and serve with the two chutneys. Eat immediately.
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