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|Alternative names||Bhel (Maharashtra), (Gujarat), Bhelpuri (West Bengal), Bhela, Churu Muri / Churmuri (Karnataka), Bhel (Magahi, Bhojpuri, Maithili, Awadhi), Belfuri (Sylhet)|
|Place of origin||India|
|Region or state||Maharashtra, Nepal, Gujarat, Odisha, Bengal, Mysore, Karnataka|
|Main ingredients||Puffed rice, sev|
|Variations||Sevpuri, dahi bhelpuri, sev papdi chaat|
Bhel is often identified as a 'beach snack', synonymous with the beaches of Mumbai, such as Chowpatty or Juhu. One theory for its origin is that it was invented at a restaurant called Vithal near Victoria Terminus. According to another theory, bhelpuri was conceived by the city's Gujarati community, who made it by adding complex flavours to the simple North Indian chaat. Gujarati housewives began making it, and invented several varieties like the pakodi puri, and as it spread in popularity so many different communities like the Mangaloreans and Sindhis made their own versions.
The original Mumbai recipe has spread to most parts of India, where it has been modified to suit local food availability. Dry bhel is made from bhadang, a spicy namkeen from Western Maharashtra, and is consumed after garnishing with onions, coriander and lemon juice. The Bengali variant of bhelpuri is called jhalmuri (meaning "spicy puffed rice"). A native Mysore variant of bhelpuri is known as churumuri or churmuri in Mangalore.
There is no clear mention or record of when and where or by whom bhelpuri was first prepared, but it likely originated with migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh, living in Mumbai.
Commonly used ingredients
Bhelpuri is made from puffed rice and sev (a fried snack shaped like thin noodles made from besan flour) mixed with potatoes, onions, chat masala and chutney and a mixture of other fried snacks as the base of the snack. Bhelpuri has a balance of sweet, salty, tart and spicy flavors, with different textures as well, including crispy and crunchy from the puffed rice and fried sev. Other commonly used ingredients include tomatoes and chilis added to the base. In northern India recipes also include boiled potatoes cut into small pieces.
Different chutneys impart a sweet, tangy or spicy flavour. There are two popular chutneys used: a dark brown sweet one made mainly from dates and tamarind (saunth chutney) and a green spicy chutney made from coriander, mint leaves and green chillies.
Bhelpuri may also be garnished with a combination of chunks of diced raw sweet mango, diced onions, coriander leaves and chopped green chilies. It is sometimes served with papri puris, a deep-fried small round and crispy wheat bread.
Other variants of bhelpuri:
- Bhel sevpuri - a mixture of bhelpuri, chutney, papdi and sev.
- Dahi bhel puri - a mixture of bhelpuri, chutney, papdi and dahi (yogurt).
- Sev papdi chaat - similar to sevpuri but with multiple types of chutney, potatoes, and chat masala.
- Churmuri - finely cut pieces of onion, tomato, coriander leaves along with chilli powder are mixed, adding a few drops of coconut oil. Sometimes fried or roasted groundnuts may be added.
Bhel puri can be served in many ways, and in cafes and restaurants it is served on a plate but as a street food, it is commonly served in a paper folded in the form of a cone and is consumed using a paper spoon or by the papdi which is itself an edible component of the bhel puri.
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- Bhel puri
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