Punjabi-Style Chaat (Layers of Tomatoes, Raita, Ginger Garbanzo beans, Mint Sauce and Tamarind Chutney)
Chaat is an Indian snack. There are many varieties but they all use similar ingredients. If you think of it as in Mexican food where you see salsa, guacamole, sour cream, refried beans and cheese, repeated in many different dishes, similarly chaat is made up of a crispy fried bread called puri and garbanzo beans, tomatoes, yogurt, taramind, mint sauce and spices.
This particular version of chaat is one Lulu's aunt makes whenever she has a family get-together at her house. Since it's more constructed than many of the other chaats, it's got distinct layers. She usually serves it with potatoes as well, which I didn't have on hand; I'm going to post my personal favorite later on, which is called dahi papdi chaat.
For those of you who think Indian food is mostly butter chicken, tandoori chicken or palak paneer, there is a whole world of cuisine that I've been introduced to since I got married I never knew existed. I love South Indian food in particular and I'll try to put up some recipes from that region.
Yields: 82 tomatoes
1 red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 serrano green chili pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup cilantro leaves
2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely minced
2 cups raita
1/3 cup tamarind concentrate
1-1/2 tablespoons date syrup
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans
3 tablespoons ginger paste
24 chat puri (see tip section)
1/2 cup lentil crisps (see tip section)
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder, freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon coriander powder, freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, finely crushed
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black peppercorns, freshly ground
For the tomatoes: Combine the red onion, 1 tablespoon of lime juice, the brown sugar, and 1/2 the amount of serrano pepper in a bowl. Toss well. Let stand for at least 30 minutes. Chop the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes, 1/3 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of red chili powder. Mix well. Set aside.
For the raita: just check the recipe here.
For the garbanzo beans: drain and rinse the garbanzo beans.In a bowl, combine a teaspoon of brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of lime juice, 2 tablespoons of ginger paste, cumin and coriander powders, 1/4 teaspoon of red chili powder and the garbanzo beans. Toss well. Let stand for at least 30 minutes. Set aside.
For the tamarind chutney: In a bowl, combine the tamarind, 3 tablespoons of water, date syrup, fennel powder, a teaspoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and red chili powder. Stir well.
For the mint sauce: Reserve a few mint leaves for garnish. In a mini-blender, combine the rest of the serrano pepper, cilantro, mint, the rest of the sugar, 2 teaspoons of lime juice and 1 tablespoon of ginger paste. For a smoother flow, add up to 3 tablespoons of water. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the black pepper.
Assembly time: You can serve this family-style in a large deep platter or serve it individually in little verrines (glasses). Start with 2 teaspoons of the tomato mixture, then add a teaspoon of raita. Create a small hole in the chat puri and fill them will tamarind chutney. Place 3 taramind filled puri in the glass. Cover with another teaspoon of raita. Drizzle some mint sauce. Add a tablespoon of the garbanzo beans. Add another teaspoon of raita. Layer a teaspoon of tamarind and a teaspoon of mint sauce. Sprinkle some lentil crisps. Garnish with fresh chopped mint leaves. Repeat the same layers for the remaining 7 verrine glasses.
Serve immediately (otherwise the chaat puri will turn soggy) to guarantee a nice contrast of texture between the chaat puri and the rest of the soft ingredients. Enjoy!
Making ginger paste: Use a 3-inch long chunk of ginger. Clean the ginger, carefully removing any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife, then finely chop the root. Place the chopped ginger in a mini-blender, add about 3 tablespoons (or more) of water for a smooth flow. Set aside.
I diluted the date syrup in water for a smoother, thinner consistency. The brown syrup adds flavor and color to tamarind chutney.
There are many kinds of chat puri in Indian stores. I like the pillow-shaped ones because the tamarind sauce gets inside the puri.
You can find lentil crisps at any Indian store. They're a common snack in Indian cuisine, called om pudi.
I found some date syrup at my local market but you can also find it in Indian stores or online. I use this a lot for making pistachio baklava.
I serve chaat in little verrines. Verrine is just a fancy word for little glasses but they are the latest trend in French cooking. If you host a buffet-style dinner, they're an ideal addition to an elegant party.
I'm so excited I finally got some ripe Abraham Lincoln tomatoes in my garden that I used for this recipe. They are so sweet and juicy.
If you've never tried chaat before, look for a chaat house near you. If you live in the Bay area, the Chaat House is the best place to go.Published By: on July 31, 2009.