THE JHAL MURI EXPRESS (Bengali chaat)
The grub: Calcutta flavour is brought to London in the form of Bengali street food (chaat). Jhal Muri is crunchy, spicy, sweet and sour, thanks to fresh lime juice, cucumber, ginger, onions, tamarind sauce, hard chickpea noodles, puffed rice and fried lentils. Phuchkas, named for the sound they make when bitten, are crunchy wheat flour and semolina puffs, stuffed with mashed potato and mustard oil. Topped with mint water and a touch of tamarind, pop one of these little taste bombs into your mouth for a serious dousing of texture and flavour. Dhoklas, a slice of savoury chickpea flour sponge (from Pooja Bakery in Tooting), are topped with plain yoghurt, hari chutney (chilli, coriander, lime and ginger), date and raisin chutney, fresh coconut and a sprinkling of garam masala.
The vibe: Food is served from either a simple basket-topped pushcart or from the back of a van, decked out in garlands, authentic Bengali signage and fairy lights. Service is friendly and welcoming. Offerings from both cart and van pack a punch, made with only slight deviation from the original recipes.
The story: Nine years ago, former chef Angus Duncan made a random stop over in Calcutta and his love affair with Bengali culture began. He returns several times a year, reinforcing his passion for the food and absorbing the street traders’ techniques. With a burgeoning passion for filmmaking, Streatham-based Angus started the stall (full name Everybody Love Love The Jhal Muri Express) to fund a pilot about the traders. It has since morphed into a film that introduces the Bengalis’ creative way of cooking and eating.
The tab: £3-4 per chaat
Get the lowdown: Often trades with KERB, otherwise mostly found in south London or wherever the wind take him. Locate him by following his Twitter @jhalmuriexpress. Also available for private events. Streetfoodkolkata.com
Seller profile by Lindsay Faller