March 31, 2022
I can still feel my lips burning from the first time I gobbled up spicy chickpea chaat along Sukhna lake in Chandigarh, the city of roses and the Indian city in which I was born and would grow up visiting and loving. Vendors roamed lakeside selling their delicious morsels in cone-shaped newspaper. I was forbidden to eat street food by my grandmother who was rightly afraid that my Americanized tummy would not be able to handle it. No matter that she knew what was good for me - I knew what my tastebuds craved. My cousins and I were determined as we roamed, eating along the way and indulging in our beloved chaat.
Loaded with meaning, chaat refers to the category of street food that North Indians live for - it's deliciously addictive. So delicious it makes you want to lick your fingers clean, another meaning of the word chaat - to lick - the way a cat licks up milk. While making all of the components for these small plates is complicated - with some planning it can actually be easier than you think. The key is to add the right components - including chaat masala (the spice blend to make chaat successfully) and tamarind chutney, both of which we sell right here on Indian As Apple Pie.
Recipe: Chunky Chaat
2 cups boiled Russet potato, peeled and diced
2/3 cup boiled black chickpeas *
1 yellow or red onion, minced (3/4 cup)
2-6 Thai or serrano chiles, stems removed and thinly sliced
1 small tomato, diced
1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne
1/2 teaspoon chaat masala
1 small lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons tamarind chutney
2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
2 tablespoons namkeen (optional) **
1. In a deep bowl add all the ingredients except the tamarind chutney, cilantro, and namkeen. Stir. One trick is to place a plate on the bowl and shake it until all the ingredients mix together.
2. Add the tamarind, cilantro, and namkeen. Stir and serve immediately. This does not keep long and should be eaten immediately. If I want to serve it to guests, I'll keep the components on hand and assemble them right before serving it to guests.
* Use any beans or lentils. But, the black chickpeas are traditional.
** Namkeen refers to anything salty and crunchy to give your chaat that extra texture. I usually purchase a bag of spiced chickpea flour noodles from an Indian grocery store. Haldiram's is a well known brand that has fantastic snacks. Click here to see what I am talking about.
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