Mouth-watering recipes for those who like sweet, sour, tangy, spicy and crunchy snacks

by Ananya Banerjee

 

For an Indian, “chaat” conjures up all things “chatpata” or lip smacking. This is one word that describes more than just an array of snacks: It is certainly a way of life. Something totally crave-able – sweet, sour, tangy, spicy, and crunchy. Can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere!
Chaat denotes a series of savory snacks mostly served at roadside stalls or food carts mainly in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Majority of chaats are originated in Uttar Pradesh and gradually became popular all across the Indian sub-continent. Some are the result of cultural intermingling – as for example, pav-bhaji (small buns with cooked and mashed spicy vegetables) talks about Portuguese influence; and the ever-popular bhel-puri and sev-puri, originating in the mega-city Mumbai.
The chaat specialties vary from place to place and each place has their own favorites. Chaat from Delhi, Lucknow, Varanasi, Agra and Mathura, are particularly popular and utterly delicious.
To site an example, pani puri prepared in Mumbai is different from the golgappa served in Delhi and the ever popular phuchka available in Kolkata.
Going back to the pages of history, chaat originated at Agra, in Uttar Pradesh the home of the famous Taj Mahal. During the rule of the Mughal dynasty, throughout the empire, Agra blossomed into a bustling commercial hub for traders. That resulted in, sprouting of stalls all across, selling chaat, kebab and parathas. These culinary traditions spread from the imperial city to other parts of the country.
There is a joke going around nowadays: “marriage brings out emotions of sweetness, spiciness, sourness and crunchiness”. What can beat this inimitable sensation and feeling? The answer is: “pani-puri always does a better job”

Palak patta chaat

Palak patta chaat is one of the most delicious chaats, with crispy besan coated (spinach) palak-patta topped with yoghurt, sweet chutney and sprinkled with sev.

SERVES 4

10 spinach leaves
1 cup gram flour
¼ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp roasted cumin powder
½ tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
1 cup yogurt
1 cup potatoes boiled, peeled and cubed
½ cup finely chopped onions
4 tbsp date and tamarind chutney
4 tbsp coriander chutney
2 tbsp pomegranate shelled
pinch of baking soda
½ cup sev
2 tbs green coriander leaves chopped
oil to deep fry
black salt to taste
salt to taste

1 Add salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, carom seeds and sufficient water to gram flour and prepare a thin batter. Keep aside.
2. Choose similar sized spinach leaves. In a bowl, whisk yogurt, powdered sugar and set aside.
3. Coat each spinach leaf with prepared batter and deep fry in hot oil until golden brown and crisp. Drain on absorbent paper.
4. Place the fried spinach leaves on a platter. Add some potatoes and onions over them. Cover with two to three tablespoons of whisked yogurt. Drizzle some date and tamarind chutney and coriander chutney.
5. Sprinkle some red chilli, roasted cumin powder, black salt and salt. Cover liberally with sev. Sprinkle pomegranate and coriander leaves on top.

 

Sev Tamatar ki Chaat

A specialty from Varanasi, this chaat is made with plump tomatoes. This is a must try, if you are in Banaras! This Chaat is a perfect combination of sweet, spicy and tangy.

SERVES 4

5 medium tomatoes
2 medium potatoes boiled and peeled
10-12 matris crushed
1 tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp black pepper powder
½ tsp garam masala powder
½ tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
4-5 tbsp ghee
3-4 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 ½ tbsp ginger finely slivered
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves
salt to taste

1 Mash potatoes and add red chilli powder, black pepper powder, garam masala powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and salt and mix well.
2 Blanch and peel tomatoes chop finely.
3 Heat 4 tbsp ghee and add chopped tomatoes, and cook until mushy. Add the potatoes and mash with the back of a spoon till tomatoes and potatoes get properly mixed. Add sugar, salt and tomato ketchup and cook for 2-3 mins.
4 Heat the remaining ghee and pour over the tomato-potato mixture.
5 Garnish with ginger, coriander leaves and crushed matris.

 

Shakarkandi (sweet potato) chaat

Sweet potato chaat was originated in Delhi. It is deliciously tangy and spicy. You can even top it up with crunchy papadis for a delicious meal. Some people think sweet potato to be boring and only eaten during fasts, that too peeled or boiled. However, ‘shakarkandi’ is not only full of nutrition but also loaded with fiber and the chaat form is something completely different and fun.

SERVES 4

250g sweet potato/ shakarkandi
2 tbsp tamarind and date chutney
2 tbsp green chutney
1 tsp red chili powder
¼ tsp rock salt
½ tsp roasted cumin powder
1 tsp green chili, chopped
2 tbs shelled pomegranate
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
2 tsp lemon juice
few papadis to garnish
salt to taste

1 Boil shakarkand /sweet potato then peel the skin.
2 Chop into medium size cubes.
3 Take a big bowl and add chopped sweet potatoes and add all the spices, chutney, lemon juice, chopped green chilies. Toss well. Sprinkle pomegranate on top.
4 Garnish with papadis or puris.

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