As long as you play deaf and blind to the probably-true-rumors about the Bombay paav being kneaded with feet, bhaji and bhel mixed with dust and sweat and the hands that dip to serve you the paani puri are.. you know! Well let me stop before you lose your appetite completely. So as I was saying, playing ignorant has its merits. You simply love that burst of flavors in your mouth against a traffic zooming past you.
I have had the pleasure of enjoying hot kachories from monda market in secundarabad, a good many bhels, dabelis from the market streets of mulund and the bestest tikki chaat in general bazaar in delhi! Although when it comes to the south, I haven’t been brave enough; I once dared kai endhi bhavan biriyani and like tamil comedian Vivek quips, I am not sure what bird it was, if it was a bird at all… And my bus stop in chennai housed a ‘tallu-vandi’ where at 7:30AM sharp she would religiously steam idlis and a hill of dosais serving it to many on banana leaves. I let it pass with a few peeks and preferred to gobble amma’s ISI certified hygienic ones or sometimes the dalda laden saravan bhavan ones!
Two weeks back, I had the pleasure of a foody vacation. And it helped that our friends are from Bombay and Delhi, which means we get to gobble that genre of food that however hard I try does not turn out without a little twist of southindian flavor. So here are the dishes we ate to distraction. I am detailing as much as I know about the masalas used. I haven’t mimicked most of them. So try it if you dare –
Dabeli – Generous volume of mashed potatoes, mixed with peanuts, pomegranate seeds and special dabeli masala ( which they had bought from the street vendor at their door step in Bombay. So I have no clue what goes in it ). Served between wholefoods whole wheat paavs with cut red onions and generously smeared sev.
Paav bhaji – Generous volumes of potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, onions, tomatoes and any veggies you may otherwise not eat – mashed, cooked with paav bhaji masala ( Here is the recipe for the masala that I usually follow to make it from scratch and I promise the taste it very close to the Bombay waala ) No brainer from here. Served with butter laden trader’s joes Italian bread. It was the most delicious combo!
Bhel puri – It can’t easier. After many efforts and finally deciding to ignore N’s claims that he being a Bombayaite, can make the best, we have settled for – samosa chutney, bombay sandwich chutney from Indian store along with onions, cooked potatoes, cucumber, tomatoes, raw mangoes, bhel mix, generous sev. Mix with salt and chaat masala.. ready to go!
Sev puri – A similar combo of the bhel served on batatas, had like cheese crackers!
Dahi puri – Can be made with gol gappas or sev puri with beaten curd and masalas poured over. N and I have this often on Friday evenings.
Next on my list is ragada patties. Will send a post your way once that comes along. For now, we are taking a break from street food, we have had too many to find immense comfort in curd rice and pickle. Until next time.. If you have any foolproof chaat recipes send them over!
I heard through word of mouth that parties in India now serve paani puri with a paani based off vodka. Has anyone had one? Wonder how to make that one???