Monday, November 12, 2007

Street Food (Dabeli, Ragda-Patties, Bhel-Poori) and a Meme

Street food is an integral part of the quintessential Indian life. While the variety of food varies all over the country, there are certain things that find their way in some form or the other practically everywhere. Some of the street foods that I associate with certain regions are -
- Vada pav, pav bhaji, misal pav, bhel poori, sandwiches in Maharashtra
- Sabudane ki khichdi, dahi vade, bhutte ka kees, garadu, aaloo ki kachori, matar ki kachori, samosas, patties (potato balls stuffed with coconut and raisins) etc. in M.P. especially in Indore.
- Chole-tikki, Chole-kulcha, pakodas in North India
- Daal vadas, dabeli, pizzas and sandwiches in Gujarat

Dosas, Indian-Chinese, Paani-poori are some items that feature all over the country. I remember this paani-poori I had in Shimla very well, it was special because thanks to the low Shimla temperatures the paani was very cold. It tasted just so good on a sunny afternoon!

Parthiv is a street food lover in the true sense. And this time on his birthday I decided to make just what he loves - ragda-patties, bhel-poori and dabeli. I wanted to make dahi vadas too but couldn't manage to do it in the time I had :)

Some of the ingredients needed in almost every chaat item are -
1. Green Chutney (recipe below)
2. Meethi (sweet) tamarind chutney(recipe below)
3. Jheeni sev (very fine sev - deep-fried chickpea noodles if I may). I bought it from Surati Farsaan. You can find it in almost every Indian store. This is what it looks like
4. Finely chopped onions and fresh cilantro.

Green Chutney
Grind together 2 cups of cleaned cilantro leaves, a small piece of ginger, 1 cup mint leaves (optional), 1/2 cup onions (or you can use peanuts or roasted black gram/daaliya instead), 2 green chillies, salt and lime juice to taste. Add water to get a thinner consistency.

Meethi (Sweet) Chutney
Soak 1 Cup pitted dates/pind khajur in warm water till soft. If you don't have time to soak, cook the dates in a little water in a covered sauce pan.
In a pan, add soaked dates, 2 tbsp tamarind paste and bring to a boil. Run in a blender and sieve. Add 1/2 tsp sonth (dry ginger powder), 1 tsp red chilli powder, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp roasted and ground cumin. I normally taste the chutney to make sure its very sweet and tangy at the same time. If you feel the chutney is not sweet enough instead of soaking more dates, add jaggery to taste.

Boil, peel and mash potatoes. 1 large potato will yield two small patties.
Add a handful of cooked peas and a cup of chopped spinach (optional - I add peas and spinach to reduce the guilt associated with all those potatoes :P)
Add salt and red chilli powder to taste. Shape into balls and flatten them.
Heat a non-stick tava/griddle/flat frying pan. Apply cooking oil and place the patties on the pan. Maintain a low-medium flame. Flip the patties after 5 minutes or so. Keep doing this till they turn golden and crisp on both sides.
Note: If you plan to eat the patties with just yogurt or ketchup (without any chole or ragda), add some fresh coriander, chopped green chillies and dry mango powder (amchur) to the potatoes.


Ragda ( 1 cup dry peas serves about 4 people/8 patties)

I learnt making ragda from my mother-in-law. This recipe uses tomatoes and other spices and I just love it with patties. My friend H who is from Bombay does not use any spices in her ragda, probably just a tempering of mustrad seeds and heeng, and that is really tasty too.
1. 1 Cup Dry yellow peas (vatana)
2. 1 tsp mustards seeds, a pinch of ajwain (carom seeds), a pinch of asafoetida, 2 dry red chillies, a few curry leaves.
3. 2 tomatoes pureed ( or 1 tbsp tomato paste).
4. Red chilli powder and salt to taste and a 1/4 tsp sugar.

1. Soak dry yellow peas (vatana) for about 6 hours. Do not use the dry green peas for ragda, yellow peas taste very different. Pressure cook for 3 whistles with salt to taste and a pinch of turmeric.
2. Heat oil, add all the tempering ingredients in #3. Let the mustard splutter.
3. Add pureed tomatoes and saute till tomatoes look cooked.
4. Add everything in #4 followed by cooked peas. Add water if necessary and simmer for 5 minutes. Some peas will be totally mashed by the time you are done simmering. Note: Ragda has to be thick but of a flowing consistency. It should be spicy with a touch of sweetness. You can add garam masala if you wish. I normally don't.

To serve:
Place two hot patties in a bowl, pour piping hot ragda over it. Now add 2 tsp of green chutney, about a tbsp of sweet chutney, chopped onions, cilantro and tomatoes (optional). I like to sprinkle a tiny amount of salt and red pepper after this. Top with sev. Ragda-patties is ready to eat, it is very important that it is served very hot.

I normally let the guests assemble their own ragda patties plate. I love it with a dash of beaten yogurt too.

This picture is just to show you all everything that makes up ragda patties :) Check out the actual plate below.

Dabeli is a very popular street food item from Kutch region in Gujarat. I had never eaten it till I got married. Parthiv made sure I got a taste of it, but I ate it as a part of a sampler and quickly forgot what it tasted like :p My mom-in-law brought us 6 packets of dabeli msaala in her trip here and we have been putting them to good use :) I do not have a tried and tested recipe for making the masala itself, but I found one here.

Ingredients (makes 10 dabelis)
1. 10 burger buns
2. 5 large potatoes
3. 5 tbsp dabeli masala (this is for the masala I used, you would probably need to taste the masala once added to potatoes to decide on the quantity)
4. 2 tbsp oil
5. 1 cup fresh pomegranate
6. Chopped onions
7. Peanuts (I used the Planter's salted and roasted variety)
8. 1 tsp roasted cumin powder, 1 tsp red chilli powder, 1/2 tsp black pepper powder and a tsp of oil (for seasoning the peanuts).
9. Meethi chutney
10. Garlic chutney (I used Sriracha, works out well for me). If you want to make your own chutney, roast 10 garlic cloves in a little oil, grind with 20 dry red chillies, salt and lemon juice) .
11. Salt to taste

For preparing the peanuts
1. Coarsely chop the peanuts (I used my chopper).
2. Heat oil, add red chilli, black pepper and cumin powder.
3. Quickly add peanuts, mix well and let them cool.

For the filling
Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan or kadahi. Add boiled and mashed potatoes, salt and dabeli masala to taste. Mix till the mixture is uniform (I do it for about 10 minutes, brings out the flavors of the masala). Taste and add more masala if needed. You need a little muscle power here, especially if the quantity is large (the potatoes tend to stick to the pan). You can add a little water while cooking if the filling feels too dry.

Assembling the dabelis
1. Mix garlic and sweet chutneys together. Apply on the lower half of the bun.
2. Place a big helping of the filling on it. Top with the other half of the bun and roast on tava with a little butter (I like to toast the buns with the filling to make sure the filling gets warmed up).
3. Remove the top half of the bun. Sprinkle a good helping of peanuts, onions, pomegranate seeds and sev on top of the filling. Place the top half back and press a little before serving. You can add more sweet chutney if you prefer.


Dabelis are supposed to be very spicy with the sweet chutney adding the much needed sweetness. Yumm!


1. Puffed rice/murmure. Dry roast the murmure in a heavy bottom pan if they are not crisp.
2. Sev
3. Crispy pooris/papdi (crushed), you can buy them in any Indian store or make some yourself :)
4. Fried spicy chana daal (again, bought from Surati farsaan)
4. Finely chopped onions, tomatoes, cilantro, boiled potatoes, carrots (optional), pomegranate (optional)
5. Lemon juice
6. Chaat masala (optional)
7. Green and sweet chutneys, garlic chutney (optional)

This is easy :) Mix together #4 to #7. Just before serving add #1 to #3 and mix very well. Serve immediately.

This time around, I used bhel-poori mix from Surati Farsaan :). It contains a mix of murmure, sev and papdi.

And now is the time for a meme, sweet and Talented Ms. Musical tagged me for a "Life in fours" meme :) Here we go!

Four places I've lived:
Bhopal, India
Indore, India
Arlington, Texas
San diego, California

Four jobs (Thank God!) I (never) had:
Working in a candy shop(I would've eaten them all myself!)
Working in a Dentist's Office (All Dentists out there, I respect your profession, but you scare me! Ref: Comment above :P)
A juggler! (I am so clumsy I can't even handle my cell, my car keys and my purse at the same time... add sunglasses to that and I am DONE!)
A Librarian (I would get so busy reading that I'd forget I am supposed to be on a job!)

Four favorite places I've holidayed:
Kodaikanal, India
Big island, Hawaii
Pattaya, Thailand
Kulu Manali, India

Four favorite foods:
Mom's rajma-chawal and kadhi-chawal. Also bhindi ki sabzi, arbi ki sabzi, baingan ka bharta, alu ke parathe and her ROTIS
Masala dosa and sambhar
Thai Spicy noodles
Paani-poori, chole-tikki and samosas!

Four places I would rather be:
Eating paani-pooris at a thela with my brother
Driving all over Big island with Parthiv
With my direct-dil-se group (that is what we call our group of friends from college days) at our college canteen
Golden Temple, Amritsar (this came to me thanks to Ms. Musical's mention of Amritsar in a comment she left me) :)

Four bloggers I would like to tag:
Mona of Zaiqa
Passionate Baker of Passionate About Baking
Bindiya of In Love With Food
Swapna of Swad

Please take it up if you have the time and inclination :) And please ignore if you've been tagged already!


Suganya said...

The third pic is my fav :)

musical said...

Cute meme, dear :). Now, i have to visit you, for all these chat-pakodis you have posted ;). Dabelis are my favorite too :-D, so are the other treats you posted! makes me super-hungry! yummy!

Asha said...

Love your Ragda patties, so yummy. Wish I could have a plate right now! Bet he enjoyed all his fave Chaat, that is great birthday gift you gave him!:))

bee said...

i can eat these every day without tiring of them.

Laavanya said...

Now I'm craving for all of these... great post!! :)

Vani said...

I love street food! I found dabeli masala in an Indian store. Have not used it so far. Never knew it was just potatoes and masala in the filling. Now I'm going to try it soon! Nice post.

Rajitha said... all the chatpata food...and very nice meme..

TBC said...

I love Maumbai's street food:-)
Those ragda patties look very good.

PASSIONATE BAKER....and beyond. said...

Hi Shweta...sitting In India, your pictures of chaat still make me drool. Nothing could be closer home than a great plate of papdi chaat! Thanks for tagging me...I am indeed honoured.
Still trying to figure out what meme means :0/ ? DUH? Please do enlighten me when u find uno momento...LOL

Siri said...

Wow Shweta, All the recipes are my favorite.. stil drooling over the pics..:) thanks for sharing..

KayKat said...

Dabeli sounds and looks delicious - never tried it so far! And it has pomegranate seeds! I've got to eat it now :)

Nags said...

that has such a lovely professional look to it, especially the patties. great job

Nupur said...

What a delicious have me drooling all the way...

bindiya said...

Superb spread, very spicy and fun, and thx for tagging me Shweta, will do this soon!

Timepass said...

I don't mind spending money for a trip to ur place to taste these lip smacking items, all my favourites!

Happy cook said...

You know i am drooling here. I would love to have them this moment.
Loved the meme

Mansi Desai said...

Me and my family love all 3 items!!! we make Dabeli pretty often, and my in-laws are jains so they get "chandubhai" no dabeli masala from Kutchh...I never posted a recipe on my blog because that masala is never available anywhere else!!!

loved your meme Shweta!!

Shweta said...

Suganya, Thanks dear... ALL the pics on your blog are my favorite!

Musical, Kab aa rahe ho aap yahan? Chaat is enjoyed best with friends!!! I have begun to love dabelis too... I keep thinking - dabeli tum itne saalon se kahan thi??? :p

Ashaji, Thanks :) I love ragda-patties too... another newly acquired taste, I was used to eating chole-tikki before Parthiv introduced me to ragda-patties :) And yea he enjoyed it! But I felt bad about him having to help me on his birthday!

Bee, Me too!!!!

Laavanya, Thanks dear :)

Vani, Thanks and welcome :) Yea do try out the masala you have, follow the instructions on the pack for using the masala. The toppings add all the fun I believe!

Rajitha, thank-you! Chatpata is the word of the day, the word itself makes my mouth water :D

TBC, Thanks :) I haven't had a chance to enjoy Mumbai's real street food much! That needs to be rectified!

Shweta said...

Passionate Baker, you said it just right!
Tagging you for a meme would help me know more about someone as talented as you :) I hope you found the comment I left on your blog about the meme...

Siri, Thanks :) I am glad you liked the post!

Kaykat, yea do try it out! I wish I could share my dabeli masala with you. Pomegranates add so much color and freshness right?

Nags, Thanks! I would love to be a chaat-wali some day :p

Nupur, Thanks :) Chaats never fail to have that effect! I love the smell of chaats!

Bindiya, Thanks :) Would look forward to your me-me!

Timepass, When are you coming over? We can have Musical over too and have a great chaat party!

HappyCook, Glad you liked the meme :) I wish I could share this spread! Would you like to join TimePass and Musical when they visit me? :D

Mansi, Thanks :) My in-laws are Jain too! We made dabeli with kaacha kela when mummy was here. I will look up the name of the masala and post it here (normally I would remember that, but I think it is written in Gujarati... would get Parthiv's help :))

Shella said...

Never had either Dabeli or Ragda Patties but they both look excellent, just what chaat is meant to be!!!

PASSIONATE BAKER....and beyond. said...

Hi Shweta...have done the meme on me! Phew...of course I was inclined & enjoyed it immensely! Thanks for tagging me! Deeba

sahana said...

hi shweta, i have tagged u, for quirky habits, try it some time!
u could do one relating to ur time in the kitchen!