Alice Hart's bhel puri

Alice Hart / 17 March 2016

In this extract from her book The New Vegetarian, Alice Hart shares her recipe for the popular vegetarian Indian street food bhel puri.

Cooking time

30 minutes

Serves

4



Ingredients

  • 8 medium-sized salad potatoes
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp mango chutney, plus more to serve
  • 100g natural yogurt – handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tsp palm sugar
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted and crushed
  • 1–2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 small pomegranate, arils (seeds) only
  • ½ cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped
  • Large handful of cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 5 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 2 shallots, very finely chopped
  • 25g puffed brown rice
  • 6 cooked poppadums, 2 roughly crushed, the rest to serve
  • 2 limes, halved

Method

Thought to originate as a Mumbai street snack, this is such a riot of flavours and texture. With so many versions in circulation, I don’t feel I need to apologise for this recipe being heavier on the fresh additions than most. Change it up at will, but bear in mind that it hinges on the contrast of sweet, sour, crunch and heat. Whatever the incarnation, a chilled beer on the side would be most welcome.

Put the potatoes in a small saucepan and cover with cool water. Add a large pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 18–20 minutes, until tender to the point of a knife. Drain and set aside to cool slightly, then peel and finely chop.

Combine the mango chutney and yogurt in a small bowl. Finely chop 1 tbsp of the coriander, add that, then season with a little salt.

Separately, in another small bowl, mix the sour tamarind with the sugar to take the edge off and splash in a little water to loosen.

Put the potatoes and all the remaining ingredients – except the yogurt and tamarind mixtures, puffed rice, poppadums and limes – in a large bowl, seasoning with salt and pepper and mixing together gently. Now fold in the puffed rice and crushed poppadums and divide the bhel puri between 4 serving bowls, cups or plates.

Add spoonfuls of both the yogurt mixture and the tamarind mixture to each portion, stirring through gently if wished.

Eat while the puffed rice and poppadums are still crunchy, using the rest of the poppadums for scooping up the bhel puri. Offer lime halves and more mango chutney alongside, so everyone can sharpen or sweeten their plate as they like.

The New Vegetarian by Alice Hart is published by Square Peg at £25

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