Bhel puri is one of the most popular street foods in India. Photo Credit: iStock
Indians love their chaat and are very particular about the taste and texture. Some like it teekha, while some prefer adding extra mitha chutney to it. Then there are people who look forward to the 'sookha papdi' served at the end for the crunchy texture. Every person has their unique preference and we have various options to cater to each palate. Papdi chaat, dahi puri, sev puri, aloo tikki, and more - options are many leaving us spoilt for choices, but what reigns supreme is a hearty bhelpuri. A flavourful mishmash of murmura (puffed rice), sev, spices, and some delicious chutneys, bhelpuri has been winning hearts and satiating our mid-meal hunger since time immemorial. And the fact that you can customise the recipe as per your preference, gives the dish an additional edge. Today, you will find different regional variations of bhelpuri ruling the food habits of the locals. In this article, we will take you through some of the most popular versions that you must give a try.
What Is The Origin Of Bhelpuri? When Was Bhelpuri Invented?
According to food critic Vir Sanghvi's 'Rude Food: The Collected Food Writings Of Vir Sanghvi', the origin of bhelpuri is a matter of dispute. "Legend has it that the dish was invented not on Chowpatty beach, but at a restaurant called Vithal, near Victoria Terminus railway station," he writes. Further explaining the story behind its complex flavours, Vir Sanghvi states, "It was the contribution of the city's (Mumbai's) Gujaratis who recognized the potential for complex flavours in the sweaty simplicity of North Indian chaat."
However, an article on the official Incredible India website (www.incredibleindia.org) reads that the chaat is believed to have been first made in the "kitchens of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan when his doctor advised him to eat light and spicy foods".
In the intriguing tale of Bhelpuri's origin, there are many such theories that leave its birthplace wrapped in culinary mystique. Yet, regardless of its exact beginnings, one thing is clear - Bhelpuri is an iconic Indian street food that showcases a diverse array of flavours and regional twists that unfailingly bring joy to taste buds all over the nation.
Also Read: From Katori Chaat To Khakra Chaat: 6 Unique Chaat Recipes For Your Weekend Binge
Here Are The 3 Major Bhelpuri Variations That You Must Try:
Bhelpuri from Mumbai:
Bhelpuri is all about flavours. Soft but firm potatoes, crunchy sev, crispy murmura, and small pieces of onions, all mixed together with khatta-mitha chutney and some spices, the dish tastes the best when fresh (otherwise it gets soggy). Click here for the recipe.
Jhalmuri from Bengal:
When bhelpuri traveled to Bengal, it got a local makeover with strong and aromatic mustard oil in it. Here, the chutneys were replaced with a mix of roasted masala and included roasted peanuts, sprouted chana, slices of raw mango, ginger, chilli, etc. for added crunch and flavour. And the dish was named jhalmuri, which means hot-and-spicy murmura. Click here for the recipe.
Churumuri from Karnataka:
While travelling to the South, the flavours of bhelpuri got lighter and concentrated more on the texture. In Karnataka, the dish is called churumuri and includes murmura, with some sev, boiled chana, roasted peanuts, and some salt and lemon juice. Some also add ghee, onion, and tomato for added flavour. Click here for the recipe.
Bhelpuri Vs Jhalmuri Vs Churumuri: What's The Difference?
If you look into the ingredients added to the three recipes, churumuri is the crunchiest in the lot. On the other hand, bhelpuri, due to its chutneys, very quickly becomes soggy.
While murmura remains the hero in all the recipes, what makes them unique are the other ingredients added to it. While bhelpuri includes khatta-meetha chutney, jhalmuri gets its flavours from mustard oil. On the other hand, churumuri gets its flavour from the lemon added to it. However, some versions also include ghee for the aroma.
3. Spice level:
Be it bhelpuri, churumuri, or jhalmuri, all three dishes have unique spice concoctions that make them so different. While sweetness dominates the flavour profile of bhelpuri, jhalmuri is hot (teekha) in nature. On the other hand, churumuri is light, less spicy, and most comforting in the lot.
While all three variations have their own set of fanbases, bhelpuri reigns supreme. If you look into it closely, today you will find bhelpuri holding a fixed spot on the streets of Mumbai, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, and various other states. Whereas, jhalmuri and churumuri are majorly restricted to the local palates of the respective regions.
Other Unique Bhelpuri Recipes To Try At Home
Well, the love for bhelpuri, or by whatever name you like to call it, is not just restricted to the above-mentioned types. Bhelpuri is totally customisable and hence, people today go creative with the ingredients to make various unique bhel recipes. Some replace murmura with other crunchy substitutes as hero ingredients, some replace the sev, spices, and chutneys to make it healthier. We got you a few such unique bhel variations to try at home. Click here for some of our favourite bhel recipes that are healthy and wholesome as well.
Do let us know which one you would pick first. Enjoy snacking!