Bhel Puri Stand: inspiration and process
I am a bit of a chaat fiend. Chaat is a type of Indian street hawker food that's made from puri. Puri is basically a type of deep fried biscuit upon which a range of toppings are stacked, like channa (chickpeas) boiled potato, onion, lots of different chutneys, fresh coriander and dahi (curd).
It usually costs about 20-30 rupees (less than $1) and there was a stage I was eating a LOT of it. When I started to get incessant head spins I decided to give it a break for a while- chaat sellers are hardly known for their hygiene. Like all food service in India they seem to think there is a correlation between extreme use of hands and quality food.
The best way to find safe chaat is the same when hunting for food all over India- head to somewhere that's busy and go with your gut. Or if you are in Mumbai head to my favourite haunt Swati Snacks.
The design of the chaat sellers stall is quite incredible and it is a craft in and of itself. Because the seller has to travel for miles to get to his hawker spot and often moves around the city within the day itself each piece can be easily stacked together and balanced on your head so you can move about.
As interior architect for Abode Boutique Hotel I designed the Bhel Puri (a type of chaat) side table. Using the form of the chaat stand I worked with my carpenters to create a more refined version for the hotel's bed side tables. In this way I was hoping to subtly inform the guests about the cultural idiosyncrasies of the city of Bombay.