A fast-food savoury snack made from puffed rice, onions, tomatoes, cucumber and tangy tamarind sauce, it is mostly available as chaat (savoury snack) at the beachside eateries and the alleys of Mumbai and relished by locals and visitors alike. Legend has it that chaat was first made in the kitchens of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan when his doctor advised him to eat light and spicy foods.

While the exact origins of bhel puri are unknown, many believe that it was brought to Mumbai by a Gujarati migrant. There is an interesting tale associated with this scrumptious snack. It says that during British rule in India, a famous chef, William Harold, was sent to help with the meal preparations for the troops. Since he was so good, he was soon promoted to the cook of a high-ranking official. It so happened that the officer ordered Harold to make him a local recipe and he learnt how to make bhel puri, which was made of puffed rice and potatoes. It so impressed the soldiers that the officer asked Harold to look for more local recipes. It is said that the chef could not find any more recipes and when he told his officer that he would be eating french fries that night, the officer was so enraged that he shot Harold in the head.

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