We tried Bhel recently at Tamanas in Newtown. As part of their range of Chaat, or street snacks, it was a new taste for us and one we want to explore more.
Later, while exploring the Indian supermarkets of Harris Park, we came across two different instant versions of the snack and brought them home to try.
Blurb on container number 1:
- Pattu Mumbai Chowpatty Bhel Puffed Rice Snack
- India’s Favourite Snack
- 100% Veg
- Bhel. Mumbai Chowpatty’s tangy snack. Is a mixture of puffed rice, gram flour noodles, etc… to be mixed with spicy, sweet & sour & enjoyed.
The mix fits into the container as two different packages, one a dry pack and one a wet chutney. There's also a little spoon and a napkin so you could eat this on the run.
The mix is bright yellow when poured out of the satchel. The noodles are thin, with small crispy lentils and puffy rice.
The chutney mix is very brown and gloopy, and not too spicy. The pack recommends using half the chutney pack if you want it less spicy, but the full serve was fine.
Tasting the mix before adding any fresh ingredients, there is a pleasant chutney flavor and the bhel has a good crunch. I added chopped tomato, red onion and fresh green coriander leaves and it really gave it a lift.
The bhel mix is high in fat from refined palm oil (13.3g for a 100g serve, the packet is 130g heavy) so don’t eat too many of these guys if you are watching your fat intake. There’s no MSG, but there is sodium benzoate as a preservative in the chutney. You find that in most soft drinks anyway, so nothing to be too alarmed at. I couldn’t see any animal products in the ingredients either, so it is most likely vegan too but double check if you need to. It is also gluten free as the mix is rice and lentil based. Something not there for everyone.
Blurb on container number 2:
- Haldiram’s Nagpur Fatafat Bhel
- Ready to Eat, Just 2 Minutes, Chutneys Inside, Open Mix Enjoy.
Haidram's mix was very different. The puffed rice was larger, there were large broken crackers and lots of crunchy peanuts and lentils and not as many noodles. They are loose in the container when you open it.
There are three chutneys supplied; one was sweet and fruity, another spicy and the last a green minty coriander flavour. The chutneys were spicy, so taste a little before you add them if you want them less hot. Also has a convenient little spoon.
I threw in the same fresh mix to the lot, but this one would stand up better if you didn’t have them to hand. You could even eat this without the chutneys if you wanted a crunchy snack.
This bhel is really high in total fat, 35.4g for a 100g serve. The mix looks vegan (again check for yourself, I'm no vegan expert) and contains peanuts so not good for nut allergies. It also has wheat flour so not gluten free. Same preservative in the chutney.
Each of these snacks is a great way to make bhel at home. I preferred the Haldiram’s as it had bigger pieces in it, but both tasted great. Adding the fresh ingredients really gives them a lift, even a dollop of yoghurt would be great addition.
Available from India Bazaar, 100 Wigram St Harris Park.