Indian Puffed Rice (Bhel Puri) Salad
Sampling local cuisine while travelling is one of the quickest ways to meet a new culture head on; and street food is probably the best example of this! The food is honest, un-embellished and an instant doorway into the flavours, textures and fragrances of any country’s cuisine. Some of my most cherished memories are the first bite of satay ayam (chicken satay) with peanut sauce from a beach vendor in Indonesia, or the crackle of piping hot spring rolls just plucked from the deep-fryer of a street vendor in Hanoi. My more hesitant friends have always warned that street food is the fastest way to illness while travelling, but honestly, not indulging in these culinary treasures would be akin to ordering only boiled rice at the finest sushi restaurant in the world, or poached tofu at the best barbeque house in Argentina. It would be blasphemous!
My love of these delights made my heart quicken when I first saw Susan Feniger’s cookbook, “Street Food”. Her work is the perfect homage to street food from all around the world and a great sampler for anyone who has not been bold enough to try any while abroad. This is one of my favourite recipes from her book, so I really wanted to share it with you today. Bhel Puri is served by hundreds of thousands of vendors in India. It is a zesty puffed rice snack whose ingredients vary from vendor to vendor, but it never fails to please. Here, Feniger adds her own touch to the dish. I couldn’t stop eating this mind-blowing salad!
I used commercial tamarind purée and substituted about 2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses for the date molasses. This worked beautifully.
I will share this spicy treat with the gang at Fiesta Friday this week. Thanks so much to our lovely co-hosts, Petra @ Food Eat Love, and Lina @ Lin’s Recipes.
Indian Puffed Rice (Bhel Puri) Salad
2-3 red yams cut into ½ -inch dice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 small red onion, diced
1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems and leaves, chopped
3 cups Bhel Puri mix
Bhel Puri Dressing (see below)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a medium bowl, toss the yams with the oil, salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until the yams are soft and slightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Prepare the salad just before serving or the bhel puri will become soggy.
In a large bowl, combine the cooled yams, chickpeas, red onion and cilantro. Just before serving, add the bhel puri mix, and toss gently to combine.
Add 1 ½ cup of the dressing, and toss. Serve with the remaining dressing on the side.
Bhel Puri Dressing
2 cups Tamarind Purée
1/3 cup date molasses
¾ cups water
½ teaspoon black salt
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems and leaves, chopped (1/2 cup)
½ cup packed fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 (2-inch piece) young ginger, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted
In a medium bowl, stir together the tamarind purée, date molasses, black salt, kosher salt, and water.
In a separate bowl, toss together the cilantro, mint, ginger and cumin seeds.
In small batches, purée the tamarind mix with the herbs in a blender. Repeat until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
Store the dressing in an airtight jar in the refrigerator until ready to use.
19 Responses to “Indian Puffed Rice (Bhel Puri) Salad”
I love Bhelpuri — thanks for sharing 🙂
I am always happy to share!! 😀
Oh i’m loving the looks of this. What a brilliant idea adding that Bhel Puri crunch in your salad. My own wheels are turning now thinking how I can make something like this incorporating some veggies and grains. I’m not quite certain of the quantity of the tamarind puree though, 2 cups? The date molasses sounds amazing with that tamarind. Perhaps you had made additional to use at a later date? All the same, this salad is talking my talk 🙂 Where did you get your date/pommegranate molasses? I’ve been on the hunt for it for quite sometime now.
Hi Loretta. So glad you like this salad. Yes, I double-checked the recipe and the dressing recipe makes 3 1/2 cups, so you can use it for other things. I buy my pomegranate molasses at a nice Iranian market in the neighbourhood and just found the date molasses at another Iranian market nearby. Probably if you have any Middle Eastern markets near you, you will find them there. Good luck! 🙂
Looks so delicious, I have to try it out because just looking at the photos made me so hungry 😀
Glad you like it!
Maybe I missed it, but where does the puffed rice come into the dish? Is it like the rice crispie cereal we eat in America?
Oh, sorry! I should have explained that better. Bhel Puri is an Indian snack made with puffed rice (cereal). Sometimes it has stuff like wheat Chex and rice sticks in it too. You can buy it in packages in Indian markets. It is really spicy and they usually sell a variety of flavours. I hope this is helpful! 😀
So, you assemble all the ingredients in the recipe…and then add Bhel Puri to it? I’ll have to see if we carry Bhel Puri in any of our exotic markets in Michigan. The most exotic thing I’ve see lately was this thing https://www.meijer.com/product/grocery/produce/fruit/tropical-exotic/jackfruit/t1/t1-865/t2/t2-9971/t3/t3-175/t4/t4-1696/70882094921.uts called a Jack Fruit. I am a little afraid to buy something this big without knowing how to kill it first.
I absolutely love Bhel! What a salad! It is packed with flavors and textures. I love street food and agree that it is a brilliant way of getting a true taste of a country. I always order Bhel when it is available but I just realized I have never even thought of making it myself. Lovely post! 🙂 Happy FF and have a great rest of the week!
Thanks so much, Petra! I hope you have a lovely weekend, and good luck with pasta sales this weekend! 😀
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I agree with you about tasting the local cuisine whereever we go and street foods are the best!
I just made bhel puri yesterday. It is one of our most favorite street foods of India.I make the sweet and the green chutneys (dressing) and store them in my refrigerator, so I can make bhel at a moments notice!
Mmmm, yes a green chutney would have been lovely with this too! This stuff was just so addictive! Have a great week, Sandhya! 😀
It’s just Yummy 😋
No doubt mouth watering kinda Street Food I always love ❤️ to cherish..
Thanks it’s a nice blog 😍
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I’m a big fan of bhel poori – any kind of chaat, basically, gets me. 🙂 Your version of bhel poori looks amazing! 🙂