Chat about Chaat
‘Chaat’ describes a variety of (usually) savoury snacks which are usually sold by street food vendors. This is fast, fresh food prepared in minutes while you wait. These snacks feature an incredible mix of flavours and textures and are often served with chutneys and yoghurt, which provide flavour, tang and moisture.
Chaat Masala is a special, dry spice blend which is often used to season these snacks. Common ingredients found in Chaat Masala are amchur powder (dried mango powder), cumin, black salt and chilli powder. Other ingredients might include black pepper, coriander and ground ginger. Chaat will vary from region to region and different sellers will each have their own way of preparing the dishes and spice blend.
There are numerous chaats, but here are just a few:
- Pakora- A whole host of vegetables and other ingredients are dipped in a spiced gram flour batter and deep fried.
- Pav Bhaji - This chaat originated in Mumbai and has Portuguese influences. It consists of a rich mixture of potatoes, tomatoes, butter and spices served in a small bread roll, often with a mixture of other vegetables and pulses added to it.
- Pani Puri/Golgappa - These puris are small, hollow, crispy balls which are filled with a mixture of potatoes, onion, chickpeas, tamarind chutney and sometimes yoghurt. Once filled they are briefly submerged in the pani, which is a spiced water. The pani ingredients often consist of a green chutney (coriander, mint, ginger, chilli), spices, tamarind and water. Before the puri gets too soggy it is eaten whole and an amazing combination of textures and flavours are released - crunchy, soft, moist, tangy, sweet, refreshing, and spicy. A good pani puri is like a little flavour bomb exploding in your mouth.
- Bhel Puri - One of our favourites, and the easiest chaat to prepare. Bhel Puri is a mix of fresh ingredients (such as onion, potato, tomato and coriander) with dry ingredients (puffed rice and sev and crispy puri). The fresh and dry elements are mixed just before serving, along with tamarind chutney and sometimes a green or red chutney. Usually a street snack, it is prepared fresh and served in a paper cone, and eaten on the go. Fast, fresh and addictive.