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December 14, 2009

Indian Street Food -- Bhel-Puri

From Shef's Kitchen

Shefaly Ravula "Indian Street Foods"

Serves 8 – 10

Prep time: 15 minutes plus time to make chutneys

Assembly: 5 minutes

1 14-oz. package of bhel mix (see notes below)

2 lb. red potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes, placed in a saucepan and covered with water

1 cup finely chopped yellow onion

½ cup unripe raw mango, cut into ½ inch cubes (optional)

½ cup peanuts 

3-4 roma tomatoes, chopped and seeded and drained on a paper towel

¼ cup chopped cilantro

¼ cup extra-fine sev (optional), called bhujia sev or fine sev

½ cup hot garlic chutney (see recipe below)

¾ cup cilantro chutney (see recipe below)

¾ -1 cup tamarind-date chutney (see recipe below)


1.    Add a little salt to the water and boil potatoes until fork-tender. Drain well. Set aside.

2.    Place bhel-mix in a large mixing bowl.

3.    Before ready to serve, add potatoes, onions, peanuts, and mango, if using

4.    Immediately before serving, add the tomatoes and chutneys, a little at a time.

5.    Mix well with hands and serve onto individual plates.

6.    Garnish with cilantro and extra-fine sev.  

7.    Serve immediately!  Add more hot garlic or tamarind-date chutney to taste.


Bhel mix can be found pre-packaged in an Indian grocery store. It will be in the snacks or spice aisle usually. Bhel mix is composed of generally 3 ingredients: mumraa (fried, lightly seasoned puffed rice), sev (thin crispy noodles made of chick-pea flour), and flaky crispy pieces of puri (deep-fried wheat flour chips).  You can make your own bhel mix if you wish and these ingredients can be purchased separately.

I tend to use fried peanuts instead of roasted peanuts; you can deep fry your own raw peanuts or purchase them in the snack aisle of any grocery store.

Bhel-puri was originally a snack dish in the state of Gujarat, along the west coast of India and now it has become a mainstay of Mumbai street food. It’s a type of chaat (literally translates to “lick or taste”). Chaats are usually served as a snack, between lunch and dinner and sometimes served with chai.  For most Indians or anyone else who has had chaat, the mere mention of the word starts the mouth watering and most of this is due to the flavorful chutneys in combination with the various textures within the chaat dish.  Other kinds of chaats include sev-puri, dahi-puri, vada-pav, pav bhaji, ragada-patis, etc…. You can find some of these under the appetizer section on menus in restaurants around town. 

For entertaining purposes, make all chutneys up to 3 days in advance.  Keep all the other ingredients prepped the day of party.  Serve all ingredients in individual bowls and let guests assemble themselves. You can have a chaat party! I would recommend telling guests to put about one teaspoonful of each chutney in the bhel except more of the sweet tamarind-date chutney (most people like about 2 teaspoons of that chutney).

Cilantro Chutney

From Shef's Kitchen

Shefaly Ravula "Indian Street Foods"

Makes 1 cup
Prep time: 10 minutes 

Cook time: 5 minutes

¼ cup raw unsalted peanuts

1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped

½ serrano chili pepper, coarsely chopped, seeds and all

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped peeled gingerroot

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

½ cup water


1.    Place peanuts in a blender or mini-chopper and grind to a medium-fine powder.

2.    Transfer ground peanuts to a blender if you ground them in the mini-chopper.

3.    Add the rest of the ingredients and blend well, adding more water if necessary.


This chutney is very versatile. You can use it as a spread as in a panini sandwich or in a cucumber tea sandwich. You can use it as a dipping sauce for samosas or papadums. You can use it as one of many chutneys/sauces used in traditional Indian street/snack foods such as chaat or bhel-puri.

You can freeze the chutney in small containers or ice cube trays. Just thaw it out in the refrigerator.

The peanuts add flavor and act as a thickener. You can substitute daliya (dry roasted chana dal) if you wish or if you are nut-allergic.  Add fresh mint leaves for a refreshing summer chutney.

Tamarind Date Chutney

From Shef's Kitchen

Shefaly Ravula "Indian Street Foods"

Makes 2 cups
Prep time: 5 minutes 

Cook time: 20 minutes

1 packed cup tamarind pulp (don’t worry if there are seeds)

2 cups water

1 cup chopped pitted dates (approx 20 dates)

½ teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar 


1.    Heat water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add tamarind pulp to hot water. Lower heat and cook for 10 minutes, breaking pulp with wooden spoon.  Turn off heat.

2.    Strain into a cup and discard pulp and seeds if there are seeds. You will be left with about 1 cup of tamarind water.

3.    Place tamarind water back into saucepan.  Turn heat to medium-low.  Add chopped dates.

4.    Add chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, and salt. Stir well, slightly mashing dates with wooden spoon.

5.    Cook 10 minutes. The mixture will slowly reduce and begin to look like a chutney

6.    Turn off heat. Pour mixture into blender or mini food processor and blend, adding water as needed, up to 1 cup.

7.    Add brown sugar to taste.  (The addition of this depends on the sweetness and variety of your dates).  

8.    Serve with roasted papadums, samosas, chaat, or pakoras, or in a peanut-butter sandwich!


This chutney is traditionally made with jaggery instead of brown sugar.  Jaggery is a wonderful mellow-tasting raw unrefined sugar made directly from sugarcane.  Dark brown sugar is a good substitution.

Tamarind concentrate could be substituted for the pulp to save time, but the flavor won’t be as fruity and pure as it is with using the pulp.  Tamarind pulp can be purchased at Asian or Indian grocery stores.

For a very short shortcut, you could use 2 tablespoons of tamarind concentrate dissolved in 1 cup warm water. Blend this with a 16 oz. jar of apple butter (yes apple butter!). Add the above listed chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, and salt and you have a fairly good and tasty substitute!

Hot and Spicy Garlic Chutney

From Shef's Kitchen

Shefaly Ravula "Indian Street Foods"

Makes 1 cup
Prep time: 15 minutes 

Cook time: 5 minutes

20-25 peeled garlic cloves

1 small red bell pepper, chopped coarsely

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped peeled gingerroot

¼ cup raw unsalted peanuts

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon chili powder, such as Kashmiri chili powder

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons lemon juice


Blend all ingredients in a blender or a mini-chopper, adding water as necessary to make it a pourable consistency (about ½ cup).


This chutney keeps for a week in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Paprika is added mostly to deepen the red color. 

Any Indian chili powder will do; Kashmiri chili powder is milder and has a brighter red color. You don’t need much in this recipe because the raw garlic provides heat.

Copyright Shefaly Ravula

October 21, 2009

Romano Risotto with Radishes

I adore this risotto from the September 2009 issue of Gourmet. The creamy risotto is perfectly balanced and offset by the peppery tang of the radishes immersed in a white wine vinaigrette. This makes a lovely lunch with a light salad, and is also wonderful for dinner. It is also beautiful to look at.

Serves 8 as first course
Serves 6 as main course


For risotto:
  • 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (48 fl ounces)
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound Arborio rice (2 1/2 cups)
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano

For radishes:

  • 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound trimmed radishes, julienned
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
Accompaniment: extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

To Make

Make risotto: 
Bring broth and water to a simmer in a 3-to 4-quart saucepan. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons butter in a 4-to 5-quart heavy pot over medium heat until foam subsides, then cook onion, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed, about 1 minute.

Stir 1 cup simmering broth into rice and cook, stirring constantly and keeping at a strong simmer, until absorbed. Continue cooking and adding broth, about 1 cup at a time, stirring frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding next, until rice is just tender and creamy-looking but still al dente, 18 to 22 minutes. Thin with some of remaining broth if necessary (you will have some left over). Remove from heat. Stir in cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and remaining 3 tablespoon butter.

Prepare radishes: 
Whisk together vinegar, oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Toss radishes with dressing and chives. Serve risotto topped with radishes.

Risotto with radishes 

January 15, 2009

Red curry soup with chicken

We hope you enjoy this wonderful recipe for a simple and delicious soup that can be prepared in minutes. It is sure to make your body feel happy–bringing comfort against winter’s cold, while offering up a hint of spring with its bright, fresh flavor.


Serves 4


2 teaspoons grapeseed or vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon red Thai curry paste
1 8 oz. can coconut milk
1 ½ cups chicken stock
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts – sliced thin
1 cup sugar snap peas or snow peas
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms (such as cremini or baby bellas)
¼ cup cilantro leaves

To make

Heat the oil in a large sauté or frying pan (preferably non-stick) over medium heat.

Add curry paste and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly.
Stir in coconut milk, chicken stock and lime juice.
Bring to a boil and let cook for 1 minute.

Reduce the heat to low and add the chicken, simmering for about 5 minutes to cook the chicken and incorporate the flavors.

Add the peas and mushrooms and cook another 5 – 10 minutes until chicken is completely cooked and the vegetables are tender.

Stir in fresh cilantro and lime juice and serve.

This is wonderful served over steamed rice. Feel free to add different vegetables or to try different kinds of curry.

December 04, 2008

Modern Pissaladiere

This is a modern take on Pissaladiere made with arugula and shaved pecorino cheese. It is wonderfully easy to prepare with its fresh ingredients and crust made from store-bought puff pastry. Feel free to try different toppings and shaved cheeses.

One 8 x 12 tart


9 oz puff pastry (such as Pepperidge Farm)
3 red onions
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 twigs of fresh thyme
15 – 20 pitted nicoise olives
6 - 8 anchovies, in brine or oil
2 or 3 handfuls of fresh arugula seasoned with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil
Pecorino Romano Cheese (Brentine Pecorino Cheese is especially good; aged Gouda is also wonderful on this)

To make:
Preheat oven at 425 F.

Slice onions thinly. Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in a pan and add the onions with sugar and the whole twigs of thyme. Season with salt and pepper and cook on low heat for 20 minutes, uncovered.

Add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and continue to cook for 15 minutes.

Thaw puff pastry according to package instructions. Place puff pastry onto lightly greased cookie sheet and prick the entire surface with a fork. Remove the twigs of thyme from the onions and place the onions on top of the tart, leaving a nice edge around the tart.

Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffed and golden. Remove from oven.

Place the anchovies and/or pitted nicoise olives on top of the onion mixture. Top with arugula seasoned with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Shave thin slices of Pecorino cheese over the top.

Cut in squares and serve. Delicious served warm, room temperature or cold.

Cheese-wrapped Olive Balls

1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup flour
cayenne pepper to taste
1 splash Worchestershire sauce (to taste)
Salt to taste
1 large jar of large-sized green olives stuffed with pimentos

Grate the cheese and let it come to room temperature. Add the flour and other seasonings, working into a dough with your hands.

Wrap the mixture around the olives and form into small balls.

Bake on a greased baking sheet for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

Serve hot. Experiment with different kinds of olives (garlic-stuffed, jalapeno-stuffed, etc.) and try with different dipping sauces such as marinara, salsa, ranch, etc.

Note: The dough can be crumbly if your hands are warm. Work quickly with the dough for best results. These also freeze beautifully so feel free to make them ahead of time and have them on hand to pop into the oven when guests arrive. No need to thaw them ahead of time, just place them into the oven from the freezer and allow a bit more baking time to cook through.

November 10, 2008

Wild Mushroom Tart with Young Onions, Gruyere and Applewood-smoked Bacon


1 sheet frozen puff pastry
2 extra-large egg yolks
½ pound wild mushrooms, cleaned
5 slices applewood-smoked bacon, cooked
5 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ½ cups sliced young onions
¼ cup sliced young onion tops
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
½ cup whole milk ricotta, drained if wet
¼ cup crème fraiche
¼ pound Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced or grated
½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
¼ cup tarragon leaves
¼ cup chervil sprigs
¼ cup sliced chives
A drizzle of super-good extra virgin olive oil
½ lemon for juicing
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Defrost the puff pastry slightly and unroll onto parchment-lined baking sheet.

Use a small knife to score a border around the edge of the pastry. Make an egg wash by whisking 1 egg yok with ¼ teaspoon of water. Brush the egg wash along the border. Return the pastry to the freezer until you are ready to use it.

Cook the bacon until crisp, drain on paper towels, tear into pieces and set aside.

Tear the bigger mushrooms into bite-size pieces, leaving the larger pieces whole.

Heat a large saute pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Swirl in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and wait 1 minute. Add 1 Tablespoon butter, and when it foams, scatter the mushrooms into the pan. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Saute the mushrooms 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until they are tender and a little crispy (cooking time depends on the kind of mushrooms you use).

When the mushrooms are cooked, reduce the heat to low and scatter in the spring onions, thyme and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir gently 1 to 2 minutes until the onions are just wilted. Stir in the onion tops. Transfer to a baking sheet and set aside.

Place the ricotta, remaining egg yolk and Tablespoon of olive oil in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Remove to a mixing bowl and gently fold in the crème fraiche and season with a healthy pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Spread the ricotta mixture over the puff pastry within the border. Place the gruyere over the ricotta. Arrange the bacon, mushrooms and spring onions on top.

If you aren’t ready to bake it yet, cover the tart and chill it.

Bake the tart 20 – 25 minutes rotating the tart after the first 10 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is golden brown. (Lift the crust to look underneath to be sure it is cooked, otherwise it will be soggy.)

Toss the herbs in a small bowl with salt, pepper, a drizzle of great olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Let the tart cool a bit before cutting. Serve the herb salad on the side or scattered over the top.

Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin

July 07, 2008

Classic Pissaladiere

Ingredients for yeast dough

1 cup flour
3 tablespoons butter – very cold
1 egg
1 tablespoon dry yeast
A little water

Continue reading "Classic Pissaladiere" »