Bhel puri

by Fiona Smith | Cuisine issue #124
Serves: Makes 48Bhel puri is my favourite Indian street food, the perfect combination of cool, crunchy, sweet, spicy and savoury flavours, and easy to eat when all the ingredients are served on a crisp rice-flour chip.

It can be complicated if you make everything from scratch, but many of the ingredients can be bought or substituted. Making the rice-flour chips is easy and they can be made well in advance, but if you run out of time you could substitute a bought rice cracker. Just be aware that they soften quickly. Sev are very fine deep-fried chickpea noodles. You can buy sev in Indian and Asian food stores or substitute with the finest (you don't want chunky pieces) bhuja mix you can.

1/4 cup long-grain rice
1/2 cup sev (available from Indian and Asian food stores)
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped
48 rice-flour chips (recipe follows)
1 cup date or tamarind chutney
1/2 cup thick natural yoghurt
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh coriander, finely chopped
6 teaspoons chaat masala (a spice mix available from Indian food stores; optional)

Heat a wok or frying pan to very hot. Add the rice and heat, shaking constantly, until it is golden and pops (around 3 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and cool.

Add the sev and roasted peanuts and stir to combine.

Arrange the rice-flour chips on a serving plate. Top each with 1 teaspoon chutney, 1/2 teaspoon yoghurt, sprinkle with the rice, sev and peanut mix, a little red onion and coriander and a pinch of chaat masala, if using.

Rice-flour chips
75g rice flour
55g flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
oil for deep frying

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add 4 tablespoons water and stir until the mixture forms a ball. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. If the mixture is too crumbly add a little more water. Roll into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Rest the dough for 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough to 1mm thickness. Using a 5cm cutter, cut out rounds of the dough and transfer to an oven tray lined with baking paper, keeping them covered with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel as you go. Knead the scraps of dough together and repeat rolling and cutting until all the dough is used.

Heat the oil in a deep fryer or in a large saucepan (no more than 1/3 full) to 190°C. Fry the chips a few at a time for 1-2 minutes until golden then drain on crumpled kitchen paper. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


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