While grilling a pair of friends who had just returned from a exotic vacation on the island of Mauritius it wasn't the beaches or tropical flora and fauna that they couldn't stop talking about—it was a humble street snack called bhel puri. They were absolutely raving about this combination of puffed rice and potatoes served over a fried pancake. Since a trip to Mauritius to sample these famed bhel puris was out of the question, I decided the second best option was to mix up a few at home using a recipe from Sephi Bergerson's Street Food of India.
In this variation (there are countless versions of bhel puri) the pancake acts as a base for a creamy-crunchy mix of potatoes chunks and puffed rice, which are topped with tangy tamarind, diced onion, and coriander chutney. After sampling my homemade bhel puri I realized why this snack had earned such rave reviews: It had every craveable element of a great snack. Sweet, salty, spicy, crunchy, and even fried all combined in one bite, a pretty incredible feat.
- Yield:4 to 6
- 1/2 cup puffed rice (murmura)
- 1/2 cup gram (chickpea) flour or chick pea vermicelli
- For the flat pastries:
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (atta)
- 1/2 cup semolina (suji)
- 1 teaspoon onion seeds (kalonji), powdered
- Salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- For the mint chutney:
- 9 ounces mint leaves, discard stems
- 2 onions, medium-sized, peeled, chopped
- 3 green chilies, chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- 2 teaspoons sugar, optional
- 1 cup water, cold
- For serving:
- 2 potatoes, medium-sized, boiled, peeled, diced
- 1 onion, medium-sized, chopped
- Tamarind chutney
Mix the puffed rice, gram flour or chick pea vermicelli together. Keep aside.
For the flat pastries: Mix the wholewheat flour, semolina, onion seed powder and salt. Knead with water to form a medium-soft dough. Divide the dough equally into marble-sized balls. Roll each out thinly without coating with flour. Then prick all over with a fork.
Heat the oil in a work; deep-fry the discs, a few at a time. When golden and crisp on both sides, remove with a slotted spoon. Drain the excess oil on absorbent kitchen towels. Repeat until all are done.
For the mint chutney: Grind or blend all the ingredients together with water to make a thick, smooth paste. Keep aside.
Add the flat pastries, potatoes, and onions to the puffed rice mixture.
Now add the mint chutney and tamarind chutney, mix well and serve immediately.