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Indian Street Food — Bhel

By Indrajeet Chandrachud

I grew up on Prabhat Road. Our park was Kamla Nehru Park or KNP, as the college kids that ordered their chai “one by two” called it. My fondest memories of bhel are outside the large iron gate of KNP. Bhola bhel was our “bhelwala.” No real reason. That’s just the guy my mother would take us to: a balding man on the wrong side of fifty with a pushcart and a permanent burnt umber complexion from making bhel under the scorching Indian sun. His pushcart had a hand painted board that advertised Bhola Bhel next to an anatomically questionable picture of Shankar. The glass containers that contained the papri and rice puffs were adorned with fading pictures of Bollywood stars whose star had faded decades ago. He cut onion very fine with a speed that would put the finest Waring chopper to shame. With a thick handle bar mustache and a cheery disposition, he never failed to make serious small talk, even with his youngest customers. For 70 paise (in 1978) he would serve you bhel on a single page from a glossy magazine, and a little square from a slightly thicker magazine cover would serve as the spoon. I would run back to the park with my friends, and we’d sit under the biggest mango tree and enjoy Mr. Bhola’s bhel to the fullest with a spiced side of green chili. Sadly, Mr.Bhola is now making bhel in heaven, and the spot where his cart used to be is occupied by a chaiwalla.

It was very relaxing to watch him make bhel and I had watched him make it enough times to know the recipe by heart. So I dedicate this recipe to Mr. Bhola. Long after he has gone, may his recipe live on in many corners of the world.

 

Ingredients1 Cup Puffed Rice (Mumra)

1 Cup Farsan (Or a mixture of Sev, Papdi and Gaathi)

1/2 Onion chopped

1/2 Tomato finely chopped

1/4 Raw Mango chopped (optional)

2 tsp Coriander finely chopped

1/2 tsp Green Chlli Paste

 

For Tamarind Chutney — or buy it here

1 Cup water

1/4 cup Tamarind Pulp

1 tsp Jaggrey or Brown Sugar

1/4 tsp Cumin Paste

1/4 tsp shendelon-pandelon (Black Rock Salt.)

Method

In a small pot, boil all the ingredients for the tamarind chutney.

In a big bowl, mix puffed rice, farsan, onion, tomato, mango, cilantro and 4 tbsp tamarind chutney.

Add little chili paste according to your spice tolerance.

Serve in a small bowl garnished with Sev and Coriander.

 

About Green Mom

Fredrica Syren, the author and founder of Green-Mom.com, was born in Sweden. Her mother was a classically trained chef who introduced her to many eclectic flavors and skills at a young age. Her mom’s passion for the outdoors and gardening planted the seed for her own love of nature and healthy eating. She received a degree in journalism and has worked as a print, Internet and broadcasting journalist for many years with big businesses within Europe and the United States. After her mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she with pre-cancer, Fredrica changed her career to become a full time yoga teacher and activist. A longtime world traveler, foodie and career woman, she was exposed to many facets of life, but nothing inspired her more than becoming a mom. After her first-born, Fredrica began a food blog focusing on local, seasonal, organic & vegetarian dishes. Years of food blogging developed into the cookbook Yummy in My Tummy, Healthy Cooking for the Whole Family. Upon the arrival of her second child, Fredrica founded Green-Mom.com. Her vision was to establish a site providing insight about gardening, home and personal care, baby & child, and of course food & nutrition. Green-Mom.com hosts many talented writers shedding light on ways to incorporate eco-friendly and nutritious practices for busy families. She is an advocate for organic, local and sustainable businesses. Fredrica hopes to inspire social change through her lifestyle, passion and business. Fredrica lives with her husband James Harker-Syren and their three children in San Diego, CA.

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One comment

  1. This was a delicious dish on a sizzling day in Southern California! I very much enjoyed it!

    Alexandra

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