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Wednesday, May 19, 2010


With apologies for the horrible picture above—I've found it very difficult to take a good picture of a chat. Anyway, continuing with the room-temperature theme . . .

This is a chat/chaat, an Indian snack, in this case probably what would be called something like sev puri/poori, although I have to admit I have a mind block when it comes to the names of different chats and what goes into and on top of each. I was trying to make a dish like the sev puri chat I had at Bombay Chaat House, the street cart in Portland, a couple months ago. It wasn't quite the same—that one was soupier—but I think what I came up with was pretty good. Here's what I did, and if anyone has any other good chat recipes lay 'em on me!

For the crunchy stuff on top I used "bikaneri sev" (so it was labeled), made with lentil and chickpea flours and spices. You can find this in Indian grocery stores (at Taj Mahal here in Athens it's in a green bag in the snack aisle), or you could use any similar crunchy puffy snack. I've even used lightly crushed corn Chex—the flavor is different, of course, but the crisp crunch is just right.

I can now report that this makes a fine breakfast, especially if you put a little more super-spicy mint chutney on it, though obviously the sev doesn't stay quite as fresh after a night in the fridge (or—oops—on the counter).
Random Chat
Serves 2 heartily.

These amounts are pretty approximate. I was tasting and adding stuff as I went along, and I encourage you to do the same! The whole thing should be tart, a tiny bit sweet (just from the dates and onion), spicy, a little creamy, and of course crunchy.

About 4 medium red potatoes, peeled and diced
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas
About 14 pitted dates
2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
About 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
Mint chutney (I used store-bought, but you could chop and puree a bunch of cilantro, mint, green chiles, ginger, maybe some lime juice and a bit of water)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 sweet onion, diced
About 1 cup bikaneri sev or similar crunchy stuff

Cook the potatoes in well-salted water to cover until just tender; drain in a colander, dump in the chickpeas, and rinse under cold running water until cool; set aside to drain.

While the potatoes are cooking, roughly chop the dates and put them in a small saucepan with the tamarind concentrate and enough water to cover them. Simmer until the dates are very soft (about as long as it takes the potatoes to cook), then puree the date mixture in a mini food processor or blender until very smooth, adding water if necessary to make a thick but pourable sauce. Season with a couple pinches of salt.

Put the potatoes and chickpeas in a medium bowl and drizzle in half of the tamarind sauce. Add most of the paprika and cumin, along with 1/2 cup of the yogurt. Toss to combine. Fold in a little water to loosen the mixture if it seems too thick. Put in a serving dish or spread on a shallow platter. Put big spoonfuls of yogurt on top, then drizzle the whole thing with the remaining tamarind sauce. Spoon some of the mint chutney over the top. Layer the onion and cilantro over the top, then sprinkle with the remaining paprika and cumin. Cover the whole thing with the sev and serve.

1 comment:

The Rowdy Chowgirl said...

Oh my, I am so jealous! I have tried to eat at the food carts in Portland on two different trips, and all the most interesting ones have been closed! Maybe next time!