When I create dishes at home based on Indian recipes I keep that in mind as a basis of all my recipes. I tweak and adapt the recipe until it fits our tastes. I also want people living outside of India to be able to relate to these dishes and find them easy to re-create in their own kitchens.
My inspiration for this salad comes from my childhood memories of vacations in Bombay. My aunt lived directly on Juhu beach, at the age of 15 I vividly remember one of my first rituals, when we visited her was heading out to the beach and finding a bhelwala for a quick fix of bhelpuri. I have given my version of the bhel a slightly different twist with ingredients readily available to me here in Germany. I have made a bit healthier using puffed quinoa and chickpeas instead of the fried chickpea noodles. I also add some avocado and lots of sprouts.
An integral part of this recipe is the „kala namak“ – black salt, also known as Black Himalayan salt, which is made from Indian volcanic rock salt. It starts out as Himalayan Pink Salt and is then heated to extremely high temperatures and mixed with Indian spices and herbs including the seeds of the harad fruit which contains sulfur. It also contains trace impurities of sulfates, sulfides, iron and magnesium which all contribute to the salt’s color, smell and taste.
It has a very distinctive pungent smell, almost like hard boiled eggs and a delightful salty and tangy flavour, which is why I substituted the salt for the usual chaat-masala mix in this salad. Although black salt has a very strong smell at first but it disappears when cooked and the finished dish does not smell like eggs at all. It is the kala namak here that gives my version of the bhelpuri that wonderful savory umami flavor! I have added a healthy dose of lime juice for the tanginess, ground cumin for the earthy flavors and chili flakes for the heat.