When I was a child, the long, hot, quiet Lahori summer afternoons seemed unending and infinitely boring. But a wave of excitement surged whenever a food vendor, passing from the street, called out on a loud speaker. They sold all sorts of yummy things – cotton candy, kulfi(frozen dairy dessert), ice pops, roasted sweet potatoes and chana chatpata – a spicy salad made with kala chana or whole Bengal gram.
Along with those lazy hazy afternoons, the culture of food vendors is also dying in the fast sprawling, ever busy metropolis. Those vendors and hawkers have mostly retreated into the Old City. Some still flock around certain public places; like the parks, bus stops, historical monuments, etc. But over time we have also become more aware and extra cautious about the hygiene level and quality of street food. We roam around with a hand sanitizer in our purses and prefer to food safety over momentary adventure.
To have that same nostalgic taste of my childhood, I make most of these foods at home now. Chana chatpata is one of the many delicious chaats from our region.
Chaat, in general, is a sub-continental favourite. It transcends borders, ethnicities, religion, caste and colour. Especially in Ramadan, no Iftar menu is complete without it.
Chana Chatpata or Kala Chana Chaat is a low in fat, high in fibre, easy preparation. But it’s a riot of colours, flavours and textures – a complete satisfactory gastronomic experience for spice seekers, weight watchers and salad lovers alike.
2 cups black gram/kala chana
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons tamarind pulp
2 tablespoons olive or coconut oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 green chilli peppers, finely sliced
2 tomatoes, diced
A small bunch coriander, chopped
This Is What You Do:
Soak kala chana or black gram overnight. If you forget to do that, you can soak them for an hour with a pinch of baking soda in warm water.
Boil black gram/kala chana till really tender. Using a pressure cooker would cut down cooking time.
Drain the boiling water.
Heat oil in a wok or deep frying pan on medium heat.
Add kala chana, red chilli powder, cumin powder, salt and tamarind pulp.
Saute for 5-6 minutes or till the tamarind and spices completely coat the black gram.
Add to a serving bowl. Add all the vegetables. Toss to mix.
Serve warm or chilled.