Tuesday, March 17, 2009

1001 Simple Chaats ( North Indian Street food)

This cookbook lists 1000 simple chaats from 000 to 999. Ten different bases are paired with ten different dressings and ten different additives to create a thousand different chaats. Use your imagination – chaats are so versatile that any combination would work! 

It took me a long time to realise that Chaat is actually a mini meal. It perfectly mimics a full meal, with bite sized portions. All chaats have a carbohydrate base, a ‘curry’ ( normally a chutney / yogurt) and additives. The base can be fried bread ( papdi, puffed poori, samosa, kachori, vada, ) , boiled carbohydrates ( potato, beans) or puffed / flaked cereals ( rice). The base, dressings and the additives are kept ready by the chaatwala ( vendor) and mixed together on order. 

The base also serves as an additive. For example, boiled potatoes can serve as a base in aloo tikki and as an additive in pani poori / papdi chat. Papdi serves as a base in papdi chat and is curshed and used as an additive in bhel poori. Curried beans is a base in Ragda ( mashed) patties & Misal pav and is used as an additive in Bhel poori & Masala Poori.

 Chaats are usually eaten in the evening and long queues form in front of popular Chaatwallahs.

 The most popular chaats are detailed below :

 Puffed Poori based Chaats

Pani Poori (Pani: water Poori : deep fried, puffed bread):
Take 4-6 golf ball sized puffed pooris. Punch holes and fill with mashed potato / curried beans / mung sprouts. Top with pani poori water. The whole poori is popped in the mouth.

Sev Poori ( Sev: fried gram flour stringlets) 
Take 4-6 golf ball sized puffed pooris. Punch holes and fill with mashed potato / curried beans / mung sprouts and sev ( fried gram flour strings). Add some chopped onions, a pinch each of red chili powder and chat masala. Drizzle with a chutney from column 2. Sprinkle half a handful of sev on top as garnish.

 Dahi Poori ( Dahi : Yogurt)
Take 4-6 golf ball sized puffed pooris. Punch holes and fill with mashed potato / curried beans / mung sprouts. Add some chopped onions, a pinch each of red chili powder and chat masala. Add 3-4 spoons of yogurt. Sprinkle with sev on as garnish. 

Puffed Rice based Chaats
Bhel Poori ( Bhel : Puffed rice)
Take a handful of puffed rice. Mix with chopped onions, tomato, grated carrots , grated mango, curried beans, crushed papdi, sev etc., Add a couple of spoons of  pani poori water and a chutney ( or two or three) from column 3. Mix all well with the juice of half a lemon till the puffed rice becomes a bit soggy.

Jhal Muri ( Jhal : Spicy, Muri : Puffed rice) : Bengali Specialty
In contrast to Bhel poori where puffed rice is soggy, Jhal muri maintains the crispness of rice by not mixing in any liquid. Take a handful of puffed rice. Mix with half a handful of chana chur ( readymade mixture) or sev, a finely chopped green chili, half a spoon of mustard oil, a pinch each of cumin powder and salt. Boiled and cubed potatoes can also be added. Usually puffed rice is toasted for a few minutes so that it becomes extra crispy.

Potato based Chaat
Aloo Tikki ( Aloo: Potato, tikki: Shallow fried patties)
Take a handful of boiled and mashed potato. Mix in two pinches each of  chili powder, salt and garam masala. Form into small patties. Shallow fry on both sides in oil till golden. Spread a chutney from column 2 on top, add half a handful of chopped onions and additives from column 3.

Mashed Bean based Chaats
Chole Tikki ( Chole : Beans)
Replace mashed potatoes in a Aloo tikki with mashed beans and you have the chole tikki.

Ragda Patties ( Ragda : Churned).
Add mashed, curried beans to Aloo tikki and you have Ragda patties.

Misal Pav
a scoop of curried beans ( usually green peas or matki( a lentil) in the center of a plate. Spread sev all around it in a circle. Over the beans sprinkle finely chopped onions, two pinches of grated mango, a spoon of chutney from column 2, a pinch of chat masala and chili powder. Add a couple of spoons of yogurt and a pinch of chopped cilantro. Usually served with toasted pav.

 Vada / Bhalla based chaats
Dahi Bhalla ( Bhalla : deep fried urad dal batter)
Soak white urad dal overnight. Drain water and grind to a foamy batter. Add a spoon of batter to hot oil and deep fry into bite sized, small dumplings. Drain, let cool. Soaked in hot water for 2 minutes and squeeze. Add three spoons of yogurt, add a pinch each of chili powder, black salt and sev.

Dahi Vada ( Vada : deep fried spiced urad dal batter)
Replace bhalla with vada and you get dahi vada. ( Vada is made by adding chopped onions & green chilies to the bhalla batter).

 Papdi based Chaats
Papdi Chat ( Papdi : fried flat bread)
Take 4-6 medallion sized flat pooris. Spread some half a handful of mashed potato / curried beans / mung sprouts. Add half a handful of chopped onions, a pinch each of red chili powder and chat masala. Add a spoon of chutney from column 2. Sprinkle sev on top.

Dahi Papdi
Replace chutney with yogurt in the recipe above and you have dahi papdi.

Feel free to experiment - you can't go wrong with chaat !


easycrafts said...

Thats one I have been waiting for..I am a complete chat freak and can have it 3 times a day for n number of days..thanks for this very useful page..

Chitra said...

thats a fantastic post,have bookmarked it:)

Madhumathi said...

So many info on Chaat items..Wanna try all of them.Thanks for the post :)

A 2 Z Vegetarian Cuisine said...

Thats a chaat party!!!..sounds too good

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