Bhel Puri, the classic Indian savory cereal-esque snack, is often served on the bustling streets of India in paper cones and doused with spicy, sweet and tangy chutneys. So much that the snack needs to be eaten within minutes of serving otherwise the dry mix consisting of puffed rice, whole wheat cracker bits, chickpea noodles and spices becomes a soggy (yet still tasty!) delight.
Though it’s a street food often in India, we grew up here in America eating bhel puri as a party food or often as a light lunch because of Mom’s nostalgia for the taste of home. I now still serve it at parties and as a snack food to my family, and it’s a mainstay in my Indian Street Food cooking classes, but this version allows me to enjoy the original flavors yet with a more healthful, nutritious twist.
The plentiful spinach adds vitamin C and iron and the sweet potato adds fiber and Vitamin A. Mangos (which for me can be upped anytime!) contribute Vitamin C and A, fiber, folate, and other anti-oxidants like beta-carotene. The chutneys add a flavorful punch and stay true to the original Bhel Puri creation but if you don’t want to make the chutneys try a store-bought dressing like creamy French dressing and increase the mango for sweetness. And the dry mix can be purchased at any Indian grocer or bought online as well. Most brands are “clean” without added preservatives; I like the Garvi Gujarati brand mix. Store the dry mix refrigerated in a sealed bag for up to 6 months. The dry mix tastes superb on its own, even with a cup of chai!
- 2 cups packed fresh baby spinach leaves
- ½ cup diced mango, any firm-textured variety like Ataulfo or Keit
- ¼ cup raw OR roasted peanuts
- ½ cup finely chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup finely diced sweet yellow onion
- 1 small/medium sweet potato, boiled and cooled, then peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 cup bhel puri mix (see note below)
- 2 tablespoons [url href=”http://shefskitchen.com/2015/05/08/this-aarti-doesnt-party/” target=”_blank”]cilantro chutney[/url], thinned with water if needed to a pourable consistency
- ¼ cup tamarind-date chutney (see note below)
- In a serving bowl, lay the spinach leaves along the bottom of the bowl.
- In a separate mixing bowl, combine mango, peanuts, cilantro, and onion. Gently stir in the sweet potato cubes so as to not mash them. Add the contents of this bowl to the spinach.
- Mix the cilantro chutney with the tamarind-date chutney in a small bowl and pour over the salad.
- Top with the bhel puri mix only when immediately ready to eat and serve. You can mix it all together or have each person combine in his or her own bowl or plate.