Thursday, September 17, 2009

Let's Have A Chaat...The Easiest, Fastest, Snackfood Ever

Everybody likes snacks and every culture on the planet has them. Street food, finger food, the quick and dirty, sweet and greasy, salty and spicy, they're sold from pushcarts and stands, baskets in hands, and also in bazaars, bodegas and supermarkets all over the planet.
These are the foods that mom always told you would spoil your dinner, they are also the most fun.
India has some of the best, most interesting quick foods anywhere, and if you've never had some of the common street snacks sold all over the subcontinent you've really missed out. One of the best is called Chaat and it starts with puffed rice.
Before I had Chaat, the closest I'd come to puffed rice as a snack involved marshmallows. Chaat is a very adaptable snack, maybe the closest western thing I'd compare it to is Party Mix...but not.
We had company this last week, sort of a warm up for the people and events that will flow through the house during the next several months up to the New Year, much cheese, will be served, beverages poured, and definitely much Chaat made. So, here's a fast and easy way to whip up a batch of this delicious treat from my adaptation of a recipe from Lord Krishna's Cuisine by Yamuna Devi
!.) In a skillet melt 2 Tbs of unsalted butter and 2 Tbs of vegetable oil.
2.) when it's hot toss in 1/3 of a cup of raw peanuts. Stir them around until they are lightly browned then scoop them out and drain them on a paper towel.

3.)Now add 1/3 of a cup of raw cashew pieces, do the same as with the peanuts and then remove them to the paper towel to drain.
4.)Add 1/2 Tbs of finely chopped fresh ginger
5.)1 or 2 fresh green chilies. Take out the seeds and chop them finely.
6.) 1/2 tsp of turmeric
7.) 1 tsp of cumin
8.) 1 tsp. of coriander
Put the ginger chili and spice mix in the hot pan and sizzle it up for a few seconds. Then add:
9.) 3/4 cup of peas..fresh or frozen..(if frozen defrost them first) Turn the heat up and stir fry it all together for about 2 minutes.

10.) Add 2 1/2 cups of puffed rice. You can use Puffed Rice from an Indian market if there's one near you, or good old Quaker Puffed Rice, or white or brown Puffed Rice from any market .
Stir your rice in. Keep stirring til it's on the crispy side and nicely covered in oil and spices.

11.) Put the nuts back in the pan and mix them in along with:
12.)1/2 tsp of salt
13.) 1 tsp of brown sugar or jaggery if you have it.

Sample it, and play with the salt and sugar to your taste.

I can't tell you how addictive this stuff is...and there are others too, made with raisins, different nuts. fried noodles, fruit, you name it anything the imagination can devise. Sweet, hot, spicy salty, either way it's a great alternative to the same old same old.


  1. Hey I just discovered your blog--fabulous! I love Indian food, and while I love eating chaat I've never tried making it. Now I'm going to!

  2. You have a fabulous blog with very authentic south asian recipes.
    But I'd like to point out that the above recipe is not what we call a chaat in south asia, especially in the northern part of the country, home to the authentic chaats. This is an example of 'chanachur' or 'chavaNu' depending on which Indian language you speak.
    The authentic chaats are a delicious medley of loud spices - pungent, savoury, salty, sour and sweet - all at once.
    For the authentic chaats, try recipes from Delhi or Kolkata: pani-puri/golgappa/gup-chup/puchka, sev puri, dahi puri, dahi vada/bhalla, kanji vada, paapDi chaat, raj kachori chaat, chana-zor-garam, jhal-muDi, Bhel-puri - to name a few.
    For dahi-vada: use your vadai recipe to make plain vadais (without spices). Serve dressed with whipped yogurt (dahi) garnished with sweet and sour tamarind chutney, black salt, roasted cumin powder, cayenne pepper and chopped cilantro.
    Bon appetit... :)

  3. Thanks so much, I'm glad you enjoy the blog and double thanks for the tips. I had no idea. I'll definitely look those and give them a try



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