Bhel puri is a classic Indian street-side snack. An addictive, low-calorie snack made with puffed rice, tangy, sweet and spicy chutneys, and crunchy toppings - Indian 'chaat' at its best!
(Please read the entire post for detailed step-by-step instructions and tips)
What is Bhel Puri?
A humble street-side snack, sold from carts by vendors, bhel puri is a classic Indian ‘chaat’ - a 'chatpata' snack. In some ways, bhel puri is similar to a salad - made from ingredients that are mostly fresh and low-fat, mixed with chutneys and toppings. It is made with puffed rice, boiled potatoes, onions, crushed-up papdi, and tossed in chaat masala and chutneys, garnished with sev and raw mango.
It is hard to describe what bhel puri tastes like, for the uninitiated. There are so many elements going on in this hodge-podge of a dish – there is so much texture from the puffed rice to the crispy papdi and sev that’s sprinkled on top. There’s an explosion of flavor from the combination of sweet and sour tamarind and date chutney to the spicy red chili chutney and the green chutney.
Every roadside vendor will have their own variation of bhel puri – and no matter where you get your bhel puri fix from – Mumbai, Gujarat, Kolkatta – you will never find two bhel puri recipes that are exactly the same. I grew up eating bhel puri on the beaches of Goa. It is common to get into a fight over one’s favorite bhel puri vendor among the many that line the streets and beaches. Customizing one’s bhel puri with more ‘meetha’ (sweet) or more ‘theeka’ (spicy) chutney is one of life’s little pleasures!
Ingredients for making bhel puri
Bhel puri is one of those dishes that is best enjoyed outdoors, at a roadside stall. However, it isn't difficult to get your bhel puri fix without leaving your home. This dish can be made easily at home as well. You will need the following ingredients to make street-style bhel puri at home:
- Puffed rice
- Papdis (use store-bought papdis)
- Sev (use store-bought sev)
- Coriander leaves
- Chaat masala
- Lemon juice
- Raw green mango
For the chutneys:
Green chutney: Ginger, coriander leaves, mint, sugar, lime juice, chaat masala, salt, green chili
Red chutney: Red chili powder (use Kashmiri chili powder), coriander powder, sugar, garlic cloves, salt, lime juice
Date and tamarind chutney (I use store-bought)
How to make bhel puri at home
All the ingredients for bhel puri are prepped in advance and then tossed together just before serving. Since bhel puri is enjoyed at room temperature, you can prep all the ingredients in advance, making this a great option if you are meal prepping for the week. Bhelpuri should be eaten immediately after it is served, else the puffed rice will get soggy.
To prepare bhel puri, make sure you have all the ingredients you need on hand before you start (see the ingredient list above).
Boil the potatoes, and once they are cooked and cooled, peel them and mash them coarsely. Keep the potatoes aside and prepare the chutneys – for this recipe, we will be using three kinds of chutneys - green, red, and tamarind-date chutney.
For the green chutney, blend together ginger, coriander leaves, mint, sugar, lime juice, chaat masala, salt, green chili in a blender. Check the seasoning and adjust the seasoning to your liking. You can increase the number of green chilies if you like a spicier version of the chutney, or add more lime juice for more tang.
Similarly, prepare the red chutney by blending together the garlic, Kashmiri chili powder, coriander powder, sugar, salt, and lemon juice. To know more about Kashmiri chili powder and why I like using it in every recipe that calls for chili powder, read my guide to Indian spices.
Just before assembling the bhel puri, lightly toast the puffed rice in a large wok. To assemble the bhel puri, use a large mixing bowl, add the toasted puffed rice , crushed papdi, onion, coarsely mashed potatoes, tomatoes and mix well. Then add the chutneys – add as much or as little as you like, followed by the chaat masala, lime juice, and chopped green mango. Give it a mix to combine. To garnish, sprinkle some sev, green mango, chopped coriander leaves, and top off with more chutney.
Variations of Bhel Puri
To this bhel puri recipe, you can add optional ingredients and customize this dish to your liking. Here are some of my favorite add-ins for bhel puri:
- Roasted peanuts
- Chopped cucumber
- Chopped green chilies
- Pomegranate seeds
- Sprouted moong beans
More Indian snack recipes
For the green chutney
- ⅓ Raw green mango finely chopped
- ⅓ cup sev
- 3-4 papdis
- ⅓ cup fresh coriander leaves chopped
Prepare the chutneys
- Blend together all the ingredients listed under green chutney, with 1-2 teaspoon water, until smooth and uniform. Check seasoning, add salt if needed. Keep aside, and follow the same process for the red chutney. Keep both chutneys aside for later.
Assemble the bhel puri
- In a large wok, toast the puffed rice, stirring frequently, for 4-5 minutes. Turn off the heat, and keep aside.
- Coarsely mash the boiled and cooled potatoes and keep aside. The potatoes should be dry with little to no moisture.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the toasted puffed rice, crushed papdis, chopped onions, chopped tomatoes, and some of the chopped green mango.
- Add 1 tablespoon each of the green, red and date and tamarind chutneys. Working quickly, mix all the ingredients well to combine.
- Add the chaat masala, lime juice and mix again. Top off with the chopped coriander, more raw mango, sev, 3-4 crushed papdis, and add more chutneys to garnish.
- Serve and enjoy immediately!
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