With Diwali celebrations in full swing, we’re getting some recipe ideas from chef Mira Manek, champion of healthy Indian food, writer for Huffington Post and creator of best-selling snacks such as Spice Bites and Chia Chia.
As vibrant as it is simple, this dazzling Bhel Bar makes for the perfect centerpiece to a Diwali spread.
This crunchy, soft, sweet, savoury, lime and tamarind infused tantalising mix is bursting with celebration, the perfect thing for Diwali. Over the last few years, bhel has become quite the Diwali ritual in our family, headed and made by my father. And since it’s one of those dishes that must be made fresh and instantly eaten so that the crispy mamra and sev remain so and don’t become soft when mixed with all the chutneys and yogurt, it is made when the guests arrive, while everyone is meeting and engaging over this, nibbling on all the other snacks and sweets on the table.
Last year, I made a bhel salad, with all the best healthy bits of the bhel mixed with spinach leaves. And this year – well the lovely lettuce boat leaves or even endives are the perfect thing to fill and hold all the different things that go into a bhel mix. And so this bhel bar is a fun and colorful addition to the table, a way for guests to decide what they put in there and enjoy making their own mix – or you can just make the lettuce boats and keep them ready!
There are a number of ingredients you can swap and change here, of course, if you don’t have something. I’ve used steamed sweet potato, but you can of course add a bowl of steamed white or red potato. Small apple cubes are another good addition. And if you don’t have sev mamra, keep a bowl of crushed salted crisps or baked crisps for that extra crunch. Lastly, I’ll definitely be adding a bowl of quinoa for extra protein along with the chana. And, before I forget, I didn’t get a chance to make the coriander chutney, but it will always work well with bhel – here’s the recipe (scroll down). So many options!
This bar can be as small or as big as you like! Keep replenishing the bowls as guests drop in through the day!
Bhel Bar list & options:
Few packs lettuce wedges and/ or endives
Sweet potato, steamed and chopped in cubes
Red potato, steamed and chopped in cubes
Red onions, finely chopped
Black chickpeas, chana
Mamra, puffed rice
Sev mamra, optional
Apple, chopped in small cubes
Red pepper and chilli chutney
Yoghurt, stirred with a small spoon of sugar or honey
Roasted peanuts, broken or crushed
Small lime wedges
Mira Manek is an author, chef, and creator of delicious and nutritious Indian snacks such as Spice Bites, Coco Fudge and Chia Chia. Her recipes are used in London eateries such as the Holborn Dining Rooms and Raw Press, and she regularly hosts supper clubs and Yoga Brunches.
Also published on HuffingtonPost.com