Monday, June 4, 2007

Bhel



I grew up on Prabhat Road and our park was Kamla Nehru Park or KNP, as the college kids that order their chai "one by two" called it. My fondest memories 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 really 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. And for 70 Paise (in 1978) he would serve you Bhel on a single page of a glossy magazine and a little square from a slightly thicker 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.

Ingredients
1 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 tamrind chutney.
Add little chili paste according to your spice tolerance.
Serve in a small bowl garnished with Sev and Corainder.

4 comments:

archana said...

Hi Indy , KNP was my regular haunt.In fact a month back I visited the place.It does not have the same charm Your recipe is nice . You can also add red garlic chutney a little in the bhel. The garlic gives that taste.

TheCooker said...

Each post of yours is a pleasurable trip down memory lane!
I, too, was a regular at KNP. I agree with Archana it is not the same anymore.

Another fav bhel is Supreme bhel.

Sandeepa said...

I love your stories. Never stayed in Pune...but it portrays ever Indian small town life

Anonymous said...

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