Tuna Bhel

Try this take on a classic Indian vegetable street snack, this time with a tuna twist.
Photo by Paritha Wannawanit

Since its New York City location opened in February, Indian Accent has become one of the most serious and innovative Indian restaurants in the country, with a wine list to match. (Its New Delhi location was voted India’s best restaurant by “The World’s 50 Best” this year.)

But it’s not without whimsy: Chef Manish Mehrotra envisioned this tuna-enhanced take on the Indian street snack bhel—traditionally a mix of puffed rice, vegetables and potatoes—while watching the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch with his daughter. She’s obsessed with Kurkure, an Indian take on crunchy Cheetos that’s flavored with Indian spices instead of cheese, which Mehrotra used in place of puffed rice. The result is an exotic, fall-friendly tuna tartare whose range of tastes and textures lends itself to a wealth of wines, from off-dry sparklers to soft, juicy Barberas or Beaujolais.

  • 8 ounces diced fresh albacore or yellowtail tuna
  • 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind chutney*
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced red or white onion
  • 2 tablespoons diced avocado
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced water chestnut or jicama
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh mint leaves
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon chaat masala spice mix*
  • Salt to taste
  • Lime cream (recipe below)
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped Kurkure* or unsweetened puffed rice cereal
  • * available at Indian groceries and some large supermarkets

Combine tuna, lime juice and chutney in large bowl. Marinate for 15 minutes. Add remaining ingredients (except salt, lime cream and Kurkure). Mix well, and salt to taste.

Divide lime cream among 2–4 shallow bowls, coating sides. Add tuna to bowls, mounding in center (use a ring mold, if you like). Garnish with Kurkure or puffed rice immediately before serving. Serves 2–4 as an appetizer.

Lime Cream
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
Lime Cream Directions

Combine all ingredients in bowl. Set aside.

Pair It

Champalou 2014 Vouvray. Indian Accent Wine Director Daniel Beedle says, “This wine’s crisp, refreshing, citric notes bring out the freshness of the tuna and cleanse the palate, while the supple fruit flavors of apple and quince go beautifully with the delicate spice of the dish.”

Published on September 23, 2016
About the Author
Nils Bernstein
Contributing Editor, Food

A fan of sweet wines, sour beers, and old-school Rioja, Bernstein is an exhaustive traveler in search of new and unsung chefs and restaurants, innovative wine and food pairings, and eating and drinking at the source. In addition to Wine Enthusiast, Bernstein has written for Bon Appetit, Men’s Journal, New York Times, Men’s Fitness, Hemispheres, and Kinfolk, among others.

Email: nbernstein@wineenthusiast.net

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