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Indian Cuisines

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Bhelpuri

Bhelpuri is a type of chaat synonymous with the beaches of Mumbai (Bombay), such as Chowpatty. Bhelpuri is available all across India, and may be known by different names - Bhelpuri in Mumbai, Jhaal Muri in Kolkata. Jhaal Muri (literally "hot puffed rice") is different in that it does not use any tamarind-based chutney in the mix. Bhelpuri ingredients include diced boiled potatoes, chutney dal, coriander powder, grated coconut, and mustard oil. (Other types of cuisines available on the beaches of Mumbai include pani puri, cham cham, Kachoori, ragda, and pav bhaji.)

Bhelpuri was originally a Gujarati fast food. It later got merged with Mumbai culture and became synonymous with Mumbai. Bhelpuri is best consumed as soon as it is made. If left for a while, the juices from the tomatoes, chutneys, etc. combine to render the sev and mamra soggy. Much of the fun of eating bhel puri is in the crunchiness.

There is much disagreement on what goes into the "original" bhel puri, even among chaat experts. But what it actually comes down to is consumer and producer preferences, and the availability of ingredients. Most recipes include puffed rice and sev, (a fried snack made from besan flour), as the base of the snack. Other commonly used ingredients include tomatoes, onions and chilis added to the base; northern recipes use mashed potatoes in a spicy onion base, as almost no north Indian food can be made without potato.

Many people like to add different chutneys to give the bhelpuri a sweet or spicy flavour. There are two popular chutneys used, a dark purple sweet one made mainly of dates and tamarind, and a green spicy chutney made of coriander leaves.

Another variation is to sprinkle the chat with pomegranate seeds or chunks of diced sweet mango. The finished snack is often garnished with any combination of diced onions, coriander leaves, chopped green chilis, etc. It is then served with toasted puris, (a deep fried wheat bread). The result is a sour/pungent/sweet tasting evening snack that is a treat for the tastebuds.

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