Most people in the UK will have heard of Bombay mix. It’s a familiar spicy snack to many and was discovered by the Brits in the days of English rule in India.
Since the days of Bombay mix’s first introduction to Britain the popularity of the snack has skyrocketed, and it is now consumed all over the world. The mix goes by many different names – on home turf in India, for example, it is commonly known as chevda and was first created for easy preparation in the home, to be eaten at times of celebration or festivals between meals.
In Mumbai however this mix is called chuda and in Bangladesh it is called chanachur. In the US it goes by the name Punjabi mix and in Australia by Bhuja mix. In Sri Lanka, the mix is so well-known and well-loved it is simply called ‘mixture’.
All these different names are given to what is a broadly similar mixture and recipe across the world, but in India it forms part of a family of snacks. Some varieties include ingredients like dried raisins – an addition not commonly found in your standard packet of UK Bombay mix. The mix tends to vary from family to family in India, with most households having their own twist on the snack.
One of the key differences that often pops up is between the use of puffed rice, flattened rice or noodles (sev) made from gram flour, which is made from chickpeas. These elements make up the main bulk of the snack. Noodles can also vary depending on the preference of some families for thick ones, and others for a thinner variety.
Normally the rest of the ingredients are dried. These can include a number of things, from fried lentils and peanuts, cashews, corn, chickpeas, flaked rice and friend onion. Vegetable oil or ghee are generally used to help create a crisp texture to these ingredients.
But seasoning is one of the most important elements when it comes to Bombay mix. It is usually very pungent and strong, and is made up from a combination of ground cumin, ground coriander, mustard seeds, chilli powder, turmeric and a lot of salt.
Although here in the UK most of us eat Bombay mix from a packet, in India it is usually made by hand in the home. It is a long process and does require a lot of patience, but is worth it in the end as each family can make it to their own tastes. If a family is a noodle-loving family for example, they can make them to the thickness they like and incorporate the noodles into the snack as they wish. If they prefer puffed rice – no problem, they can add this instead. Noodles are formed using a special utensil called a seviya; the mixture of chickpea flour, oil, spices and water is passed through the seviya into vats of hot oil to fry. This gives the noodles that wonderful crunchy texture synonymous with Bombay mix.
The chefs at London’s fine dining Indian restaurants know how to make the perfect Bombay mix. Pay Amaya a visit for a sample of this delicious snack and savour the rich flavours while you wait for your main course.