Bhel or bhel puri is a chaat (street food snack) that is all at once crunchy, tart, spicy and a little sweet. This dish is ubiquitous in Mumbai and is often made to order with puffed rice and other ingredients, then served in paper cones (typically made from newspapers) by sidewalk vendors. While you won’t find bhutta (“corn”) bhel sold on the streets, it’s popular among home cooks. Here I use fresh summer corn as the base and add cornflakes instead of the usual puffed rice, for crunch. The tangy lime dressing makes it absolutely irresistible!
Put the potato in a medium saucepan, add cold water to cover by about an inch and salt the water generously. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until the center of the potato is easily pierced with a fork, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain and halve the potato so that it cools faster. When cool, peel and dice the potato (about 3/4 cup). Set aside.
Meanwhile, microwave the corn with the husk on, one at a time, until tender, about 3 minutes. (If the corn is really young and tender you can skip this step.)
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, jaggery and tamarind paste until the jaggery has completely dissolved. Set aside.
Once the corn is cool enough to handle, use a serrated knife to cut off the tip of each ear, then slip off the husk and discard. Use the knife to cut off the corn kernels. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the onion, tomato, sprouts, potato, cilantro and chiles. Add 1 teaspoon salt and the 1/2 teaspoon chaat masala and toss well. Add 3 tablespoons of the lime dressing and toss well again. Taste and add more lime dressing, salt and chaat masala, as desired. Toss in the cornflakes just before serving.
Chaat masala is a tangy spice blend available at Indian markets or online. Heat levels vary by brand, so add 1/2 teaspoon to begin with and add more, if desired.
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