I’m convinced that until my travels to India, my taste buds were numb, or maybe someone just hit the snooze button. After being introduced to real, local foods of India, my taste buds were jolted alive by the collection of tastes, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
One of the benefits of traveling is the wonderful people you meet. While in Agra, I met this incredible chef that worked in one of the restaurants in the Marriott hotel, his name is Vicky Kumar. Vicky is the ultimate host! His love for food and great hospitality made us feel so comfortable in the unchartered territory of Indian food.
This food genius introduced me to some of the most incredible dishes. The first and most memorable dish was the Bhelpuri. Vicky referenced it as “street food”. This dish is an Indian snack that is made with puffed rice, vegetables and a tangy tamarind sauce. When I first took a bite, there was this sudden explosion of sweet, sour, spicy and crunchy flavors that over stimulated my numb taste buds. I couldn’t resist as I inhaled this masterpiece. Chef Vicky has been kind enough to share his recipe with me (see below). To my readers, you haven’t lived until you’ve had Vicky Kumar’s Bhelpuri! Sahtan!
1 cup of puffed rice
1/4 cup of finely chopped, deseeded ripe tomatoes
1/2 cup of finely chopped onions
1/4 cup of boiled, roughly mashed potatoes
1 cup of crushed chaat papdi (Flour crispies)
1.5 cups of sev (Gram flour vermicelli)
3-4 tbsp of green chutney (coriander,chilli & mint sauce)
2-3 tbsp of red chutney (date & tamarind sauce)
1/2 tsp of black salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp of chaat masala
1/2 tsp Deep fried & spiced green peas
½ tsp Deep fried chickpeas & spiced
1/4 cup of roasted peanuts (salted or unsalted)
1/4 cup of chopped coriander leaves
1 tbsp of lemon juice (more or less to taste)
Mix all the ingredients together & add spices..
Garnish with lemon wedge & fresh coriander sprig.
⦁ ½ cup tightly packed seedless tamarind
⦁ ½ cup seedless dates
⦁ ½ cup powdered or grated jaggery or as required – adjust as per your taste
⦁ 2 cups water
⦁ ½ tsp roasted cumin powder
⦁ ½ tsp coriander powder
⦁ ½ tsp dry ginger powder
⦁ ¼ or ½ tsp red chili powder or 1 dry red chili * see notes
⦁ black salt or rock salt as required.
1. in a pan, take the tamarind, dates and water.
2. cook the tamarind and date for about 8-9 minutes on a low flame till they soften.
3. now add the powdered jaggery and continue to cook.
4. let the jaggery dissolve and the mixture thicken a bit.
5. add all the spice powders – red chili powder, coriander powder, dry ginger powder and roasted cumin powder.
6. stir & simmer for a further 1-2 minutes more.
7. season with salt.
8. let the chutney mixture cool down.
9. in a chutney grinder or small blender, grind the this whole mixture till smooth.
10. add some water if required while grinding.
11. strain the chutney through a strainer.
12. store the tamarind date chutney in an airtight bowl or container in the refrigerator and use it when you make chaat at home.
* if using dry red chili, add it with the tamarind and dates right at the beginning – step 1