Indian Cuisine

3 Great Bhel Puri in Los Angeles

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Fri, Jan 24, 2014 at 9:00 AM
click to enlarge Bhel puri at Samosa House and Bharat Bazaar - C. CHIAO
  • C. Chiao
  • Bhel puri at Samosa House and Bharat Bazaar
The Indian savory snack bhel puri has a euphonic ring to its name, suggesting the kind of party-readiness that Tostitos tries to emulate. But there's no American chip that comes even close to this dish, which is commonly found as a snack served in newspaper cones on the streets of Mumbai.

A typical bhel puri will call for a riotous pile of crisps: kurmura or puffed rice, biscuits called papdi and thin fried vermicelli known as sev. Then come chopped onions and tomatoes and roasted peanuts. Depending on regional preferences, there might be a garnish of coriander, a squeeze of lime, some roughly cubed potatoes, legumes, or a handful of raw mango bits. Everything will be tossed in chutney, often both a tamarind and a mint or coriander-based blend, followed by chili powder. It's best dressed to order, like a salad, to keep the dish from getting soggy.

A member of the savory snack family chaat, its origin is thought to be Gujarati.  Across the Pacific, in greater Los Angeles, bhel puri is a snack you'll more likely find at suburban Indian grocery stores, restaurants and snack shops. And although you could buy a crisp mix pack sold by Indian grocers then prep and add fresh ingredients, you're better off leaving the recipe guesswork to the folks at one of our three favorites spots for the dish around town. This way you can pair your bowl, or plate, of bhel puri with a mango lassi that's almost always on menu. 

click to enlarge Bhel puri at Surati Farsan Mart - C. CHIAO
  • C. Chiao
  • Bhel puri at Surati Farsan Mart
3. Surati Farsan Mart
Surati Farsan Mart is a sleeker addition to the collective of Indian shops and restaurants that compose Little India alongside Pioneer Boulevard. As with most savory snack bites here, bhel puri - almost equal parts crisps and legumes to chopped onions and chutney - can be found listed on a three-screen menu to the shop's left. On weekends, locals and out-of-towners alike line up at the shiny glass counter cases to stock up on snack staples, such as various types of milk-based confection called barfi.  11814 186th St., Artesia; (562) 860-2310.

See also: 5 Best Dosas in Los Angeles.
2. Samosa House and Bharat Bazaar
Close to the center of Samosa House and Bharat Bazaar is the prepared food counter from which you can order comfort foods like dosas and chaats. While you're in line, you'll notice that everyone seems to be a regular, as familiar as they are with the vegetarian fare available for single or combo orders. Even more so than other versions around town, bhel puri here is thoroughly mixed before being served, creating a plate that's well-spiced throughout, but also slightly less crispy. 11510 W. Washington Blvd., Mar Vista; (310) 398-6766.

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