Chaat – The Hidden Treasure of South Asia:
Word Chaat literally means ‘to lick’. I guess it refers to the finger-licking-good taste of this snack. ‘ Chatpati’ which is a local food term, used to describe yummy, savory and spicy food, could also be the origin of this snack’s name. The most repeated story behind the creation of Chaat connects it to the royal kitchen of Emperor Shah Jahan. Once the emperor fell sick and lost his appetite. The Shahi Hakim (physician) suggested something salty, sour and spicy which should also be light on stomach. This really sums up the characteristics of chaat. The interesting thing is that most components of chaat were already part of the local cuisine from centuries – like curd, rock salt or black salt, tamarind, vadas (dumplings) and fried or boiled potatoes. This healthy, filling and oh-so-delicious snack/salad Aloo Channa Papdi Chaat is a hallmark of Punjabi street food. If you are roaming around in Lahore’s Liberty market and you are exhausted after loads of shopping, you can sit on a roadside bench and order a plate of this yummy delight to restore your energy for more shopping.
The All Important Chaat Masala:
Chaat Masala gives that special flavor to all variety of chaats which is, honestly, irreplaceable. This spice blend is a pleasant and powerful amalgamation of amchur(sour mango powder), black salt, red chili peppers, cumin, dried ginger, coriander and black pepper. It enhances and adds to the number of layers of complex flavors (sweet, fiery, sour, savory) heaped into one bowl. The individual ingredients of this spice blend are not there just as taste makers but have amazing health benefits too. Amchur is made from dried unripe green mangoes and it adds the benefits of the the fruit when it’s not in season. It boosts metabolism, contains antioxidants and fights life threatening diseases like cancer and heart conditions. It’s a commonly available ingredient in South Asian grocery store or you can order online. For it’s alternative, you can add dried lemons, sumac, dried pomegranate seeds (anardana) or citric acid to your chaat masala. The final taste would be ,of course, somewhat different. Similarly, black salt(which is actually slightly pinkish grey in color) and saunth/ginger powder are also great digestive aids.
A Variety of Classic Chaats to Tingle Your Taste Buds:
There are no two opinions on the fact that chaat began as an appetizing snack on the northern belt of the Indian Subcontinent. As with biryani, pulao and some other local delicacies, chaat also soon evolved rapidly into a wide variety, utilizing regional ingredients. Some of the most popular chaat varities that you shouldn’t miss are Dahi Vadas, Pani Puri, Samosa Chaat, Aloo Tikki Chaat, Fruit Chaat, Bhel Puri and Aloo Channa Papdi Chaat. These chaats always have one prominent ingredient that shines in the plate and gives them a distintive taste – it can be the dumplings made with different lentils or flours, puffed rice, warm and gooey potato patties, crispy fried samosa or dough shells stuffed with all sorts of condiments. But one thing is common in all – the layers of flavors and textures, brought together by the most significant chaat masala.
What Is Aloo Channa Papdi Chaat and How to Serve it?
Aloo Channa is a very modest but popular roadside nourishment in Punjab. It comprises of parboiled potatoes and chickpeas tossed with sliced onions, tomatoes and green chili peppers, and then liberally doused with flavorings and chutneys. Papdi is crisp fried dough bites made with plain flour and are the key element of this recipe. They not only make this snack more filling but add more texture to it too. This healthy, filling and oh-so-delicious snack/salad Aloo Channa Papdi Chaat is a hallmark of Lahori street food. If you are roaming around in Lahore’s Liberty market and you are exhausted after loads of shopping, you can sit on a roadside bench and order a plate of this yummy delight to restore your energy for more shopping. In some places the chickpea and potato salad is served over small round discs of papdi and other condiments poured over it. The other method is to mix all the salad ingredients in a bowl and serve the papdi and other sauces on side for people to add according to their liking.
If You Like This Recipe, Also Check
- Aloo Tikki Chaat, Potato Patties Salad
- Daal Maash Dahi Baray, Lentil Dumplings in Yogurt Sauce
- Kala Chana Chatpata, Whole Bengal Gram Salad
- Flaky Crust Punjabi Samosa
For Aloo Channa Chaat Papdi Chaat, Potato Chickpea Salad with Wafers:
For Chaat :
2 cups dry chickpeas
4 medium potatoes
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green chili pepper, finely chopped
a small bunch fresh coriander
a small bunch fresh mint
1 cup yogurt
1 cup tamarind chutney
1 cup mint coriander chutney
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons chaat masala
1 cup sev/ fried gram flour noodles (optional)
This Is What You Do :
Soak chickpeas in water for several hours or over night. Boil them in salted water till tender. Drain and set aside. You can also use canned chickpeas.
Meanwhile peel and cut potatoes into bite size cubes. Boil till done but still firm, use white potatoes or any variety that maintains its shape.
When chickpeas and potatoes are at room temperature mix them in a salad bowl.
Chop onions, tomatoes, green chili peppers, coriander and cumin leaves. Toss them with potatoes and chickpeas.
Pour yogurt over chickpeas and potatoes. Add half of chaat masala and mix. If you can’t find chaat masala, mix rock salt, black pepper, red chili powder, cumin, coriander powder with lemon juice and add to contents in the bowl.
Top with tamarind and mint coriander chutneys. Sprinkle the remaining chaat masala on top.
Add papdi and sev right before serving. Crumble it over the bowl or serve it on the side.
You can also make round discs of papdi and serve chaat over it.
For Papadi :
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons ghee ( clarified butter)
1/8 cup water
Vegetable oil for deep frying
This Is What You Do :
Mix flour and salt, rub in ghee. Add water,a little at a time. Knead till dough is no more sticky.
Heat oil in a wok or frying pan for deep frying.
Flour a worktop, roll out the dough into a round flat bread shape. Or 2-3 three smaller flat bread.
Fry till golden and crisp on medium low heat.
When cool enough to handle, break into big chunks.
Sprinkle this crispy papdi right before serving on top of Chaat otherwise it will go soggy. Or serve on the side with tamarind chutney and Chaat masala.
For homemade chat masala and tamarind chutney check the recipes here,