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Sep 20, 2007 11:41 AM

Do you make chaat?

I want to try to make some homemade - can anyone help?

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  1. I usually just buy the chaat powder from the indian grocer and put it over chopped onions, potatoes, tomatoes, etc. with some yogurt and tamarind chutney.

    2 Replies
    1. re: arifa

      what is chaat powder? I'm obsessed with chaat, but I've never heard of it.

      1. re: sixelagogo

        Chaat Masala ... spice blend from the Indian grocers.

        Or you can make your own.

    2. What kind do you want to make Kare Raisu? The kind which is mostly crunchy in texture (dahi papri or sev puri) or the kind where you can see chunks of potato (as arifa points out above) or samosa chaat or aloo tikki or "mixture"? :-) Chaat is not specific enough.
      Typically, adding the following to various bases will get you chaat: plain thin sev; runny (beaten) yogurt; tamarind chutney; mint chutney; chopped onions; chaat masala or a combo of salt, cayenne, toasted cumin powder and dry mango powder; and optionally a cooked bean - either chickpeas, dried peas or whole mung.
      Bases could be one or more of the following:
      samosas, soaked and crushed lentil fritters (dahi vada), crispy hollow puris sold as "golgappa" or "pani puri" in Indian stores, crispy flat puris (might need to ask around for these or substitute tortilla/pita chips), aloo tikki, or just cubed boiled potatoes.

      The simplest chaat dish you could have at home within minutes has got to be bhel puri. A variety of mixes are available in Indian grocery stores. All the dry stuff is already in there. Make some tamarind chutney and keep in your fridge for months. When you get a hankering, just chop some onion, tomato, green chili and cilantro, maybe cube a small boiled potato. Add to taste to your packaged bhel mixture and enjoy. In a pinch, if tomatoes are juicy enough, you might even get by without chutney. Add a squeeze of lime/lemon for some pucker.

      4 Replies
      1. re: sweetTooth

        sweetTooth, I had a type of chaat as you describe, with a base of crunchy to slightly puffy?, squarish "crackers" and topped with a kind of snack mix of very thin thread like crunchies (sorry, don't know how else to describe these)...what are the names of these two items? I assume I could find them pretty readily in an Indian market? Thanks!

        1. re: smsliu

          Slightly puffy crunchy crackers = papri or puri (not to be confused with the soft bread by the same name. As long as you clarify that the context is chaat, you'll get the right kind of puri or puri recipe.)
          Very thin thread like crunchies = sev, typically "plain sev" or "bareek sev" which means "thin sev".
          The latter should be easy to find. The former is usually hard to find unless you are in New Jersey or go to your local "little India". The very puffy ones called golgappa or "pani puris" are easily available but not very fresh as Fatima points out.

          If you do have the fortitude to make your own golgappa puris, here's a recipe for the whole thing:
          You'll easily find sooji (cream of wheat) in an Indian store. I haven't tried making these myself. Make sure you ask for the finest sooji they have. I am a little skeptical that a dough made from sooji alone will hold together well enough. If you find you're having trouble add a little all purpose flour. This is for the puffy puris that are typically filled with the other chat ingredients and then popped in your piehole one at a time. I wouldn't sweat it if they don't all puff up as topping the puris with other things rather than stuffing them should be just fine as well. Hope this helps!

          1. re: sweetTooth

            It is actually referred to as "namak pare".(Fam owns an Indian rest). Throw in cilantro potato chickpeas onion and chat powder. We always have the namak pare- along with tamarind chutney.

            Love it!

        2. re: sweetTooth

          This is awesome and has cleared up a perennial mystery...THANKS!

        3. One can make many kinds of mixed chaats at home. The only problem I noticed in the US is when you don't live in a city where you can get some of the types of chaat paraphernelia fresh, you have these bags of stale gol guppa shells or paapars, or old puffed rice. I have seen gol guppa (also called pani puri) self assembly kits for sale at Indian grocers but I avoided them cuz they look stale.

          I do make some versions of chaats at home. Firstly, I recommend Shan Chaat Masala. It is a Pakistani brand and it has that correct sour spicy chaat taste. It is a medley of spices that go into chaat and it is better you just buy that than buy a dozen different spices which you may not use for anything else, especially since some of them are weird ingredients like "kala namak" which is sulfur. Yep, that's right, sulfur, but it tastes good, try it on a fruit salad, it lifts all the flavors. (you can make fruit chaat by sprinkling chaat powder on fruit salad, too by the way. You should also invest in a packet of dried mango powder (aam choor) to up the sourness, and some dried red chili powder if you want more heat.

          You have to know how to make two basic chutneys: mint chutney, and tamarind chutney. I made a type of chaat recently with a date chutney. All of these chutneys can be googled for recipes, they are quite simple to make.

          Okay, now an easy cheater's way to make a home chaat is to buy one of those bags of Indian trail should have some sev, bhel, and a variety of other crunchies. Choose one with the word "navratan" on the bag to get a good mix. (navratan literally means nine jewels---it means there is a good variety of crunchies in the mix). Then as suggested above, mix in chopped boiled potatos, and also some chick peas, some boiled skin-on mung beans, chopped onion, green chilies, and cilantro, if you can get it, some chopped raw green mango, mix it all together and top with your chutneys, a pinch of mango powder, chili powder, and then your Chaat masala powder. You can also add in some whipped yoghurt. This type of chaat would be a version of "mixed chaat." If you can find the correct crackers for paapri chaat, you can layer the above mix on top of the paapars.

          You can go crazy with chaat ideas, I recently had fresh pakoras submerged in whipped yoghurt and covered in crunchies and chutneys. You could also do the same with a samosa.

          I think that while there are some traditional chaats, it is a genre in which you can be as creative as you like to get the ultimate combination of crunchy, hot, sour, soft, salty, sweet, whatever.

          4 Replies
          1. re: luckyfatima

            If you have the time, you can make the sev too, provided you can find a sev maker (a gadget that extrudes dough directly into a pan of hot oil). If you are comfortable with deep frying, it's not hard at all. Every now & then I make a giant batch of the "trail mix" -- frying first the sev & then whatever else you like with it (almonds, cashews etc. -- you've got the oil out there anyhow, just drop them in for a moment -- soaked & dried-off & fried dal, raisins, coconut slices, dried cranberries (these are awesome b/c of their sourness)), & season it all with some fried-up curry leaves, salt, chile, amchur & sugar. Then if you can keep everyone's mitts out of it long enough, make up the chaat as Fatima says. Homemade sev has a lot more flavor & crunch (especially with a little rice flour in the dough) than even the freshest commercial stuff.

            What I like about chaats at home in general is that you can adjust them, even the individual portions, to your tastes & to whatever is in season. Since my husband cannot eat cilantro ("cheap soap!"), I like enough green chiles to blow his eyes out of his head, & visitors have their own quirks, everyone ends up happy.

            Really hard green apples with chaat masala sprinkled on them are great too ...

            1. re: luckyfatima

              kala namak is black salt... salt that comes from the black sea... it has a sulfur taste but is not sulfur

              1. re: amberaftab

                i correct myself it does not come from the black sea it is sodium sulphide Preparation

                Black salt is prepared by boiling harad seeds in brine, and then letting the remaining water evaporate. The residual crystalline salt is black, hence the name. When ground into a powder, it becomes pink.[1] Chemically, black salt is sodium sulfide, with trace minerals. It is also produced as by product from manufacturing of sodium thiosulphate.

                1. re: amberaftab

                  Oh yep that post is from so long ago, I found out that kala namak is not sulfur but a type of salt some time back, thanks for correcting as CH users shouldn't get the wrong info. Hahaha I knew it wasn't from the Black Sea, though. That would be a long way to travel.

                  What are harad seeds?

                  Do you know why some kala namak is black and some is pink? The one we get in Dubai is a purplish pink, not dark greyish.

                  Oh, another corrective update to my original post: Shan chaat masala doesn't contain kala namak. Mehran does, though. I switched brands for that reason.

            2. Funny but since this post in september, my Gujarati Auntie neighbor came over and showed me how to make home made pooris for gol guppe (she is a true inspiration, she makes her own sev and all kinds of crispy snacks and chutneys all the time). She did it so well and it took her about 15 minutes from start to finish. She didn't measure, she just mixed it all. The only thing I had to buy special was a tortilla press to make the pooris really really flat. I tried it once by myself, but for some reason the pooris did not all puff, some of them stayed flat. They also didn't taste as good as Auntie's. They were somehow leathery. Auntie suggested that my flaw was that I over-handled the dough. She came over a few more times and made me a couple of more batches. I need to try again, I know. It's just you know how it is, it is gonna take me a few more screwed up batches to get it right and I hate wasting. But it will be a useful skill when I move back to North America and don't have chaat shops readily available.

              4 Replies
              1. re: luckyfatima

                Come to Toronto!

                We have chaat all over (And its good too!).

                1. re: luckyfatima

                  Sounds like you might have overmixed the dough for the pooris & developed the gluten in the flour. I had this problem when I first started making regular roti (previous husband was a Pakistani guy) due to overkneading (bad habit after years of making Western breads). The flavor was fine but they were way beyond chewy. They'd have been fine if anyone needed a retread, & certainly exercised the jaws.

                  What kind of flour are you using? If part or all maida, try substituting some cake flour (low-gluten fine white flour), if you can get it. The more you get used to making them, & the faster you work, the lighter your touch will be & you won't be tempted to over-handle.

                  Wish we all could have an Auntie to come coach us, lucky you!

                  1. re: mshenna

                    mshenna: i was making the pooris from sooji. i mean the hard poori shells for gol guppe/pani poori, not the soft maida ones for like halva poori or something. but i think you are on to something about the gluten forming.

                    actually my chappatis are leathery, too, so it must be the gluten thing. I use ata, not maida for those though.

                    1. re: luckyfatima

                      Both are wheat, so the leatheriness could well be gluten development. Maybe try working with a more slack dough -- that is, not quite so dry. Sooji is weird b/c you never know how much water it will need, or at least I don't -- it seems to vary a lot. Work fast & keep a light touch when mixing/shaping (your neighbor probably does b/c she is so used to making them).

                      I use all atta now for rotis but for a while I was cutting in some maida (which seemed to help with the toughness), until I got faster & more practiced. They don't take your teeth out anymore ... .

                      Twisting, overmixing or folding any wheat dough develops gluten. I know someone who swears that you should use your non-dominant hand for mixing b/c you don't have as much strength in it (can't vouch for that though).

                2. This site has a great breakdown of a typical chaat menu:

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: kare_raisu

                    i've had chaat, and didn't even know it! i like the crunch crunch crunch and the fresh cilantro and the savory spicy yogurt and chutneys. like a big old indian salad bar! yum.

                    kare raisu, did you ever end up making your own? unless you're cooking for many, and have several dishes, it is just easier to buy at a place like you showed us. thanks.