Bhel for Beginners

Bhel is not rocket science. It is delicious and versatile. You can make it from scratch or from half-scratch. You can make it with two chutneys or three. The two-chutney variant seems the most common: plummy-brown tamarind chutney and ubiquitous minty-green chutney. The tamarind will be sweet and tangy; the green will be a fresh punch of cilantro and/or mint, which you can make very very spicy with 3-4 chili peppers or keep milder than a white kitten. Your call.


Bhel: There are lots of ways to this.

As noted in earlier posts, the basis of the Bhel is a puffed-rice, peanut, gram-flour medley that you mix with boiled, cubed potatoes, chutneys, fresh fruit and then top with a garnish of tomato, onion, cilantro and the thin crispy noodle known as sev (sounds like: save). You certainly can make the bhel mix yourself. But as a blogger I’m here to give (and get) A-grades for effort, not for authenticity. I buy the mix and the tamarind chutney, which are available anywhere Bhel mix and sev are sold. I do make my own green chutney – a blend that gets its green from cilantro, not mint. You can google and gather numerous green chutney recipes easily. The minty chutney is fine to use here, if you prefer.

So the recipe goes something like this:


  • 7-10 ounces Bhel Puri/Bhel mix
  • 1 medium red potato, cooked and peeled and cubed into small pieces
  • 8-12 ounces of tamarind chutney
  • 6-8 ounces of green chutney
  • 1/3 cup green apple OR green, raw mango – cubed into small pieces
  • Cilantro, tomato, red onion, wedges of lime, sev (crispy rice noodles) – for garnish.

1. Make or buy the chutneys. Most mixes come with instant chutney packets. So that’s another option.

2. Get that potato ready.

3. While the potato cooks, chop the cilantro and dice the tomato and red onion. Don’t mix them together, however.

4. Now get ready. No more distractions.

5. Combine the potatoes and the bhel mix.

6. Add the chutneys. Mix, mix, mix. The concoction should whisper to you like a bowl of rice krispies in milk: snap, crackle, pop, gentle hiss, repeat. The chutneys should coat the bhel/potato mix so every puff and cube glistens. Again, I use more of the tamarind than the green chutney. Don’t add all they chutneys at once. Pour, mix, sample, decide. Repeat until it’s got the right spice and zip for your taste.

7. Throw in your fruit of choice: granny-smith apple or green mango.

8. Garnish to your taste. I start with the tomato, then the onion. Sprinkle that cilantro. Save the best garnish, that’s the sev, for last.

9. Squeeze a little extra lime on that. Serve!


You can use Idaho or Yukon potatoes, but red is my first choice always. Be sure you don’t overcook that potato. Mashed potatoes are for Thanksgiving not Bhel Puri.

You can make a giant batch of bhel puri and blend in the chutneys all at once, but I don’t recommend this. Ask your guests how they like it: spicy or sweet, dry or drenched, then mix a bowl per-person, one at a time. This way you control the spice and accommodate each diner individually. Bhel puri gets soggy quickly. Mix the chutneys, garnish and serve right away.

About those chutneys: I have not hit the right balance between the right chutneys, nor have I mastered the perfect chutney to bhel ratio. I think this might be a case of “more is more,” not “less is more.” The bhel should be flavorful and moist. So I’ll be adding more chutneys to subsequent batches.

Once I master a recipe that features the perfect flavors in the perfect proportions, I will quantify and share here. I know I know. You cannot wait. But don’t let anticipation stop you from experimentation. Make Merry, Make Behl!



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