North Indian Street Food – Chaat
Chaat which literally means ‘to lick or taste’ in Hindi is the quintessential North Indian street food. Chaat is a generic name for a tangy and spicy mix, whose ingredients can be quite varied. Most chaats are based on fried dough, with various other ingredients and sauces. Chaat can be tangy, spicy, sweet, salty, crunchy and soft all at the same time. It’s truly an ‘Explosion of Flavors’ in your mouth and can tingle your taste buds leaving you wanting more!
Even though the different chaat dishes have varied ingredients of the elements and sauces are common. Potato pieces, crispy fried bread, gram bean, chick peas and spices while the tangy flavor is usually imparted by the use of lemon, pomegranate seeds, Black salt, tamarind, and various chutneys. Yogurt is also commonly used in Chaat dishes. chaat masala the main ingredient in any chaat dish is a masala, or spice mix, typically consisting of amchoor (dried mango powder), cumin, black salt, coriander, dried ginger, salt, black pepper, and red pepper.
Chaats will not be chaats without these chutneys:
- Green Chutney : Mint-Coriander-green chilly chutney
- Sweet sour Chutney : Dates –Tamarind chutney
- Red Chutney: Red chilly-Garlic chutney (optional chutney)
Other ingredients common to most of the Chaats are:
- Onions –finely chopped
- Tomatoes- finely chopped
- Fresh coriander leaves – finely chopped
- Raw green Mango –peeled and finely chopped
- Potatoes boiled peeles and chopped
- Lemon Juice
Pani Puri or Gol Gappas
Pani is a hindi word for water and puri (or poori) is an Indian bread that is made by frying dough in oil. The name panipuri literally means “water in fried bread”. Pani Puri or Gol gappas sometimes called Gup chup is a popular street snack in India. It comprises a round, hollow “puri”, fried crisp and filled with a watery mixture of tamarind, chilli and potato. In general, any form of Golgappa or panipuri is a hollow, puffed, round dough which tastes like a crunchy shell. The shell by itself is not a great tasting snack, unless it is stuffed with special spicy potato-based stuffing and dipped in a masala water to fill up the hollow dough. Usually the stuffing needs to be prepared separately, and a small hole is made on the top centre of the dough with a finger to be able to insert the potato based stuffing inside the hollow dough. It is then dipped in the masala water and then served.
It is the associated stuffing and recipe of the masala water that makes it unique. In different regions in India, depending upon the local palate, the stuffing and water are made differently. They are known by different names based on these different recipes.
Bhel Puri is a tangy puffed rice mix. As with Pani puri it’s called by different names Bhelpuri in Mumbai, Jhaal Muri in Kolkata or just Bhel. Bhelpuri was originally a Gujarati fast food. It later got merged with Mumbai culture and became synonymous with Mumbai.
Most recipes include puffed rice sev, (a fried snack made from besan flour) and mixture chuda( a mix of different types of fried snacks mixed together), as the base of the snack. Other commonly used ingredients include tomatoes, onions and chilis added to the base; northern recipes also add boiled and cut potatoes.
Many people like to add different chutneys to give the bhelpuri a sweet or spicy flavour. There are two popular chutneys used, a dark purple sweet one made mainly of dates and tamarind, and a green spicy chutney made of coriander leaves.
Another variation is to sprinkle the chat with chunks of diced sweet mango. The finished snack is often garnished with any combination of diced onions, coriander leaves, chopped green chilis, for instance. It is sometimes served with papri puris, a deep fried small round and hard wheat bread. The result is a sour/pungent/sweet tasting evening snack that is a treat for the taste buds.
Bhel Puri Recipe
3 cups puffed rice (available at Indian stores)
A handful of roasted and salted peanuts
2 potatoes boiled, peeled and chopped into tiny cubes
1 large onion chopped fine
1 large tomato chopped fine
Half a bunch of coriander chopped fine
2 green chillies chopped fine
Tamarind chutney to taste
Mint-coriander chutney to taste
A handful of coarsely crushed papdi (savoury biscuits made from flour)
1 cup sev (vermicelli-like snack made from gram flour and available at Indian stores)
– Mix the puffed rice, peanuts, potato, onion, tomato, coriander and green chillies together in a large bowl.
– Add the tamarind chutney and mint-coriander chutney according to your own taste preferences (that’s the beauty of bhelpuri!), mix well, garnish with plenty of sev and papdi. Serve and eat immediately.
Papdi Chaat is a mixture of crisp wafers topped with chick peas, steamed lentil dumplings, creamy yogurt, and tamarind and coriander chutneys. Crunchy, tangy, hot and sweet flavors combine to make Papdi Chaat delicious to eat as a snack or a great alternative to a meal. It’s wholesome and healthy with chickpeas and yogurt, not to mention filled with flavors and textures that tease your taste buds.
Papdi Chaat Recipe
250 gms all-purpose flour
4 tbsps ghee
1 tsp onion seeds
Salt to taste
Vegetable/ canola/ sunflower cooking oil to deep fry
5 large potatoes, boiled, peeled and chopped into tiny pieces
1 cup chickpeas, boiled and mashed coarsely (sprinkle with salt to taste)
2 red (Spanish) onions chopped very fine
2 large tomatoes chopped very fine
2 cups fine sev (gram flour vermicilli)
2 tsps red chilli powder
3 tsps powdered black rock salt
2 tbsps cumin seeds, gently roasted and powdered
Fresh finely chopped coriander leaves for garnish
2 cups fresh yoghurt whisked till smooth and chilled
1 cup Tamarind Chutney (see recipe below)
1 cup Mint-Corainder Chutney (see recipe below)
2″ circular cookie cutter
– Mix the flour, ghee, onion seeds and salt to taste and mix well. Add just a little water at a time and knead to get a firm, smooth dough. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
– After the dough has rested, divide it into equal-sized balls. Roll between your palms till smooth.
– Lightly flour a clean rolling surface and press one ball flat. Roll out into a circle (1/4″ thick) using a rolling pin. Now use the circular cookie cutter to cut smaller circles out on the large circle. Remove extra dough from sides of smaller circles. Keep on a lightly floured tray or plate for later frying (they will become the Papdis). Repeat till all the dough is used up.
– Heat oil for deep frying, in a deep pan on a medium flame. When hot, add the Papdis a few at a time and fry till crisp and pale golden.
– Drain and keep on paper towels. Repeat till all Papdis are made. They can be stored for a few weeks if kept in an airtight container.
– To serve, first set up all ingredients – Papdis, toppings and chutneys – within easy reach. dip 5-6 Papdis (per person) in yoghurt and remove. Arrange on a plate.
– Put a little potato, chickpeas, onion and tomato on each Papdi. When all are done in this way, drizzle a teaspoonful each of Tamarind and Mint-Corainder Chutney on each Papdi.
– Sprinkle a handful of sev all over the Papdis in the plate. Now sprinkle red chilli powder, cumin powder and black rock salt and garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve as soon as possible or the Papdis will get soggy.
Sev Puri and Dahi Puri
Made with the same puri (shell) as Pani puri. Sev puri is a drier version of pani puri and dahi puri is the same but its finished of with a yogurt topping.
The round, hard, puffy puri shell is first broken on top and partially filled with the main stuffing of mashed potatoes or chickpeas. A little haldi powder and/or chilli powder may be added for taste, as well as a pinch of salt. Sweet tamarind chutney and spicy green chutney are poured into the shell on top of the stuffing. Garnished with Sev (gram flour vermicilli) it’s known as Sev Puri. When sweetened beaten yoghurt is generously poured over the shell, and the finished product is garnished with sprinklings of crushed sev, moong dal and finely chopped coriander leaves it’s called Dahi Puri.
Mint-Coriander Chutney Recipe
1 bunch fresh mint
1 bunch fresh coriander (cilantro)
6-8 cloves garlic
1″ piece of ginger
2 green chillies
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps lime juice
– Cut off roots from both mint and coriander, peel garlic and ginger and remove stalks from green chillies. Wash all these ingredients thoroughly.
– Grind these and all the remaining ingredients into a smooth paste in a food processor.
– Chill and serve.
Tamarind Chutney Recipe
200 gms tamarind (remove seeds)
100 gms dates (pitted)
150 gms jaggery
2 cups water
1 tsp fennel
1 tsp cumin seeds (roast and grind coarsely)
1 tsp salt
Red chilli powder as per taste
– Put the tamarind, dates, jaggery and water in a saucepan and cook on a medium flame till the dates and tamarind are soft.
– Turn off flame and allow the mixture to cool.
– Use a food processor or hand blender to blend mixture together into a smooth sauce.
– Put sauce back into the saucepan and onto a medium flame and add remaining spice ingredients.
– Bring the sauce to a boil and turn off.
– Allow to cool, then chill and serve.