Like so much Indian street food, dabeli has that genius blend of softness and crunch, sweetness and salt. Each vendor insinuates his own special flavours into the dish, but by and large, a dabeli is made of buttered pao, grilled on a tawa, split open and stuffed with a spiced potato mixture, onions, pomegranates and sweet- tangy- spicy chutneys. My friend's dabeli mixture was generously dunked in sweet date and tamarind chutney, tinged with a smidgen of garlic and sprinkled with sev ganthia for the element of crunch. But I have had spicier versions, versions with peanuts smothered in chilli that singed my lips, even versions with grapes. There is dabeli served with lashings of coriander, dabeli with the addition of delicate shavings of coconut, even dabeli with cheese, for those looking to further augment their waistlines. There are almost as many versions as there are vendors! (Also Read: 10 Local Dishes in Mumbai You Need to Bite Into)
Where to Eat DabeliThankfully, for those of us unlucky enough not to be living in Gujarat, dabeli is available across the country. In Pune, I have tasted Cheesy Kucchi Dabeli at Manisha Bhel Pani Puri Snacks Centre, and an unfortunate mayonnaise-flecked one at the uniquely named WatsApp Dabeli Centre (in Pimpri), which also offers schezwan and cheese options, and the immensely popular Butter Kadak Punch.Mumbai has my favourite dabeli outside of Gujarat of course, by way of the popular Swati Snacks -- I think the restaurant has the ideal ratio of sweet to spicy flavours. But of course, there are plenty of other places to partake of it. A friend swears by a tiny thelawala in Nalasopara called Famous Dabeli, another travels to Matunga dabeli that specializes in dabeli and vada pao. The dabeli comes laced with garlic, slathered with cheese and butter, as a Jain version, or just plain, which is the least piquant of all the choices. Firki, in Lower Parel, has gussied up the dabeli by topping toast with the stuffing: it is named Dabeli Bruschetta and described as "Juicy dabeli masala served on top of toasted bread" on the menu. In Delhi, I coughed up Rs 90 for a fairly decent one at INA's Maharashtra Food Stall, with a little cashew embedded within. And Amdavadi, in Chennai's T Nagar, offers it, too.In Bengaluru, the dabeli is especially popular in Marathahalli's Eat Eroo, a small place famous more for its vada pao than anything else. I read about Delite Chaat House, a small eatery in Indiranagar, which serves not just the plebian regular, butter, cheese varieties of dabeli, but also a jammy version, a dry fruit -infused one, and the intriguingly named Delite Special. The regular version is not very spicy, and is very close to the dish she used to enjoy in her home town of Bhuj, but she has also tried the extra buttered bread which she found pretty decadent.
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How to Make DabeliI am no expert, but I do sometimes make dabeli at home with leftover bhel chutneys. The rest is mostly assembly, tweaked to my taste.
Ingredients:6 soft white paos
1 onion, chopped
2 potatoes, boiled and mashed
2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
A handful of pomegranate seeds
A handful of toasted peanuts
3 tsp sev
Date tamarind chutney
A pinch of salt, hing, and jeera powder (during the cooking of the potato mixture)Dabeli masala:1/4 tsp cumin powder
A pinch of cinnamon
2 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp dhania powderMethod:1. For the dabeli masala, first roast themasala lightly, then mix thoroughly and set aside. 2. Next, heat a little oil in a saucepan, and add in the potato mixture, with the pinch of hing, jeera, and salt for seasoning. Stir and if need be, add a little water, to soften the mixture. (At this stage, you may choose to add in some desiccated coconut.) Add in the dabeli masala, then take off the heat and form into six patties.3. Toast the paos on a tawa, then butter them thickly. Slather with as much chutney as you like, and stuff with the potato patties. Sprinkle over the chopped coriander leaves, sev, onion, peanuts, and pomegranate. Enjoy!
About the Author: Meher Mirza is an independent writer and editor, with a focus on food and travel. Formerly with BBC Good Food India, she loves anime, animals and artsy things but also comics, technology and death metal.Disclaimer:The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.