Since we started Everyday Allergen Free, two cuisines that have constantly been on my mind are Indian and Thai food because they are two of my favourites (along with Japanese) that Amanda has never been able to share with me. Japanese has been relatively easier of course because of the use of raw fish in almost every dish. Thankfully Amanda does not have a fish or shellfish allergy which happens to be a very popular top 8 allergen in North America. Thai and Indian however, are still completely elusive to her because of the high chance of cross-contamination in the ingredients and the unknowns of the cuisine in general.
So this year we have been exploring ways to incorporate the intimidating world of these two cuisines here in the EAF kitchen. We were lucky enough to find two other women who were also entrepreneurs and understood the space we were trying to demystify when we came across Bombay Street Food, a Toronto restaurant in the Bay street corridor.
I frequent it often but had totally written it off as a place to take Amanda to as I too believed there would be no way she could eat anything on the menu. That started to change after I met Amreen and Seema early in 2017 in person. They were both moms, very easy to talk to and had been running the food business together since 2014 across the city before settling down in the current Bay Street location. Now all these factors are important to someone with food allergies for a number of reasons. Let me explain...
1. The chance of your kid interacting with someone with severe anaphylaxis is pretty high in Canada (I'm talking 1 in 7) so you will most certainly have run into customers with food allergies and intolerances.
2. Being easy and open to talk to means you would be more willing to embrace and empathize with the idea of a food allergy if you haven't heard of them before (in the off chance).
3. Running a restaurant/food business since 2014 in a very popular area means you may be subject to frequent inspections from a health care inspector and IF NOT, then at the very least you will have HEARD of various customers health concerns about eating out.
Thus we got to chatting often and I finally gathered the courage to ask them about their experiences with food allergies. The best part about Bombay Street Food is that all of their chutneys (dipping sauces) are made on site and in their kitchen. This means that both Amreen and Seema are very aware of what goes into every dish on their menu. They proceeded to tell me that they have customers come in with peanut allergies and lactose intolerances before and have had safe experiences. A huge relief.
So today we will show you a delicious recipe that you can find on site or you can get a deliver over Uber Eats of Ritual. One of the first things we decided to deconstruct was the "Bhel puri".
What you need to know about Bombay Bhel Puri - there is a huge amount of nostalgia involved in the taste, smell and visuals of a good bhel puri. Nostalgia amongst food experiences is nothing new, people travel the world to smell or taste something again from memory. Most people remember all sorts of moments around food - love, sadness, happiness, excitement, and more. Bombay bhel is nostalgic of the bombay of the past.
Bombay Bhel Puri - served alone or with papdi
⅓ Date Tamarind juice
2 cups puffed rice
2 tb spoons chopped coriander leaves
⅓ Lemon juice
⅓ Red chilli powder
⅓ Boiled potato - peeled and chopped
⅓ Cumin powder
⅓ Ripe mango - chopped into bits
⅓ Small onion
⅓ green chutney (coriander, cumin, sesame, coconut, ginger, sugar, lemon)
½ cup Sev - chickpea flour thin slice chips
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and garnish with chopped coriander leaves. This version was served on it's own but often you also add a few papdi chips which are deep-fried flour based crackers (to those unfamiliar with Indian chaat). I hope you get to try it out soon!
If you are reading this in a different city, let us know what your recommendations for safe places to eat Indian food are, we'd love to learn more and share your picks! And if you don't know of any, put us to the test, let's look some up for you! Leave a note in the comments below and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.
As common practice, you should always call ahead and let a restaurant owner or staff know about all of your allergies, in this case, some items on the menu do contain nuts but the kitchen does their best job to separate all ingredients. Some Indian recipes call for the green chutney to include ground nuts and/or sesame so always inquire yourself and always trust your gut.
Bombay Street Food does their best to serve menu items as safely as possible but cannot guarantee a nut free protocol from their vendors. Please use your discretion and visit the restaurant in person to gauge your comfortability levels or talk to staff in person.