Sunday, February 25, 2007

Open, mix, and eat!

I saw this new product -- Haldiram's Bhel Puri, in an"one-the-move pack" -- and, despite skepticism, decided to take it for a trial run.

I suppose it tastes OK, but that's not the point. Bhel puri is a pretty quintessential street snackie, and this sanitized, hygenic, festooned-with-yellow-flowers form simply does nothing for me -- or for thousands (millions, billions?) of others weaned on the gritty mix of puffed rice, peanuts, imli chutney, chopped onions, tomatoes, spices of various persuasions, and, of course, the all-important green chillis.

The ingredients the bhel puri-wallah doesn't list, and which Haldiram's CERTAINLY would not look too kindly upon, are heaping helpings of dust, oil that's been seasoned, sizzled, and reused as various component parts are fried in preparation for the mix, dirt, and other detritus. It's the unwritten list that makes other expats shiver in anticipation of contracting cholera, but even those that have had a bout or two of Delhi belly know that sometimes, the greasiest, grottiest street food is worth a day in bed. When I was in Kila Raipur, for instance, after a few hours of shooting, I suggested we get a drink; S pointed at a man making fresh OJ, and I immediately knew that I would be sick for the rest of the day (which may have been intuition, or it might have been the fact that the man grinding kinoos had a wracking cough). I drank a glass, its rim thoughtfully wiped clean after the man before me finished his quaff, sat down for a few minutes, and spent the rest of the day vomiting. Que sera sera.

So thanks, Haldirams, for giving us this option, but I prefer my street food from, well, the street.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I totally tried that stuff once... and I couldn't stomach more than a few spoonfuls. As my dad says, the secret ingredient that makes it taste so good off the streets is the vendor's dirty hands. I'd rather risk Dysentery/Typhoid for some of the authentic stuff. --Malavika