Great chaat at Chowpatty: Bhel puri

If I told you about a delicious snack that I had in Mumbai, the best description of which I could provide was “rice krispies, sweet sauce, cubes of tomato, covered in cheese,” you would start to question my ability as a food blogger (alas I am sure you do anyway, but moreso)…

…And this is what my friends thought, until I took them out for some Bombay street food in London and convinced them otherwise.

Bhel puri

Who’d've thought rice krispies covered in cheese could taste so good; don’t try this at home kids

The snack I speak of is called bhel puri, and belongs to the family of “chaats,” which are spicy, salty snacks sold from roadside carts.

Bhel puri itself is as I described above – however to put it in a more appealing way, it is puffed rice, vegetables (e.g. tomatoes, chilies and onions), coriander leaves and a spicy tamarind sauce; it is often served alongside papri puris (small, round discs of wheat bread) and frequently served with sev (a fried snack that looks like short, thin noodles – like you get in Bombay mix).

As you can imagine, many different variations exist (as you already know, the one I had in India had cheese on top – see photo), and different versions are eaten throughout India.

Chowpatty Beach, Mumbai

Girgaum Chaupati, known colloquially as Chowpatty Beach, is one of the most famous public beaches in Mumbai, and is located in the heart of the city, just off Marine Drive in the Girgaum district.

It is the place for “Mubiakars” of all ages to be on a Friday night. The thing I liked the most about Chowpatty Beach is just how “local, normal and real life” the place is. Young couples walk hand in hand along the waterfront, groups of teenagers hang around the candy floss stands, and families watch on as their children ride on ferris wheels that look like they were built out of Meccano® back in 1983.

It is a place for locals of all classes to escape the bustle of a city of 18 million people. And there is not a firangi in sight. Bliss. (Sorry other firangis.)

Chowpatty Beach at night

Friday night at Chowpatty Beach; NB, Not a place for swimming

And the main reason I had gone to Chowpatty Beach was for the largest collection of bhelwallahs in Mumbai, to taste the famous bhel puri.

We chose to buy our bhel puri from Sharmajee’s, and we can recommend!

Served on a small paper plate and eaten with a plastic spoon, we devoured our bhel puri while we sat cross legged with the locals on a large rug laid on the sand.

We topped our meal off with a trip to a kulfiwallah. Look out for future posts on kulfi because it is also flippin amazing and on my “to make” list.

Jeff on Chowpatty Beach

Bhel puri on the beach

Kulfi on Chowpatty Beach

Pistachio kulfi for pudding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bhel puri at Roti Chai

Bhel puri at Roti Chai

Bhel puri in London

Not an easy thing to find, I have sampled excellent versions in the following restaurants in London.

 

Roti chai

3 Portman Mews
South
London
W1H 6HS
Tel: 020 7408 0101

www.rotichai.com

 

Bhel from Dishoom

Bhel from Dishoom; Ok so you can’t see it, but you can see I was happy with it

Dishoom Covent Garden

12 Upper St Martin’s Lane
London
WC2H 9FB
Tel: 020 7420 9320

 

Dishoom Shoreditch

7 Boundary Street
London
E2 7JE
Tel: 020 7420 9324

www.dishoom.com

 

 

 

I know of a few other places in London that sell bhel puri; however, I haven’t tried them out yet so cannot recommend. I will go and let you know, and if you know any, please do let me know in the comments below.

 

 

Related posts:

Brrrr, London is flippin freezing; warm yourself with an Indian masala chai

Keralan village cuisine: You can find it here!

33 Hours on the Coimbatore Express

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