Snap. Crackle. Pop. That’s the sort of thing that goes on in your mouth as you tuck into the nashpati bhel at Mayfair Indian restaurant Bibi. With its crunchy puffed rice, sharp chilli and numbing icy pear granita, this creative take on bhel, a classic Indian snack, is an explosion of flavours and textures. ‘Our food is very nostalgic,’ says chef-patron Chet Sharma. ‘It’s about bringing flavours reminiscent of India, with a playful twist.’ He explains how the popular dish comes together.
‘We dress the dish with a mint-and-coriander chutney, a tamarind-and-date chutney and spearmint. We use the tiny micro tips of the mint – less bitter than the rest of the leaf.’
‘We compress nashi pear in jal jeera, a juice made with black salt and cumin, and add it to the grain mixture. We mix the leftover liquid with ice to make a pear granita.’
‘There are chickpea-flour puff balls, oats, millet, puffed lentils and nuts. We cook the grains and hydrate the starches, then fry them in oil so they quadruple in size.’
‘We make our own chaat masala with more than 15 spices: three types of cumin, dried mango powder, black salt, coriander seeds, yellow chilli powder and more.’
‘As a young boy, I ate this dish in Mumbai. I found it too spicy, so I’d crunch on ice. I thought: Why not use ice in Bibi’s version? We add ice shavings on top, like snow.’
42 North Audley St. £12.