Travel Thursday # 8: Chat by the (Kovalam) Beach

Kovalam Beach

You know I love Indian food, right? If you have visited me more than once, it might be self evident. One of my favourites is Channa Chat, made with that amazing spice powder, Chat Masala, which gives the food an amazing tang. You can find the recipe for Chat Masala here and for Channa Chat here.

In my post on Channa Chat I wrote:

It is an amazing tease of contrasts. Sour yet sweet. The bite of onion with the smoothness of chickpeas and potato. The mineralisation of rock salt with the tartness of mango powder and lime juice. It is an amazing dish.

Just a word of warning – this is real Indian. Not the restaurant Indian that is served up and called Indian food. At least here in Australia. Really quite different flavours. Not an easy eating dish. Not a comfort dish that eases your mouth and your body into a state of relaxation. This is a “Woh-hoh” in your mouth. An assault of wonderful flavours that wakes up all your senses. Be brave, but be warned…

Oh, my mouth is watering already.

Imagine my surprise when on a beach in Kovalam, Kerala in India, I found a man, on a bike, making Channa Chat on a board strapped onto the back of his bike. If you are from India, or have been to India, you will know what I mean. It is usual to have wonderful food available exactly where you need it, be it piping hot cups of chai from an urn on the back of a bike, or icecream, or an alcoholic toddy made from coconut sap, or other wonderful snacks.

Bike Channa Chat

BUT ….. although I am quite adventurous in India when it comes to street food, there is still one thing I am very nervous about. Uncooked vegetables. The reason is that they are probably washed in non-bottled water, and non-bottled water is the biggest no-no for foreigners in India.

SO ….. there I was, with a man who had my most favourite Indian food on the back of his bike, looking for all the world exactly like I make it (amazing!), smelling absolutely delicious, with hot channa and cool veggies that looked so fresh they were probably (no kidding) picked that afternoon, and I could NOT eat it.

Beach Channa Chat

All I could do is take photos.

Mixing Channa Chat

Oh the agony of it. Oh how I want beetroot in my channa chat too.

chopping Channa Chat

Mr Channa Chat man, I am still really sorry I did not give into temptation.

But on the way back to the hotel I found a man selling toddy ….

Toddy Man

BTW, Channa Chat is made from Chickpeas (garbanzo beans).

Travel Thursday Series

Chickpea Series


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About Ganga108

Heat in the Kitchen, Cooking with Spirit. Temple junkie, temple builder, temple cleaner. Lover of life, people, cultures, travel. Champion of growth, change and awareness. Taker of photos. Passionate about family. Happy.
This entry was posted in Indian, Lentils, Grains, Rice and Nuts, Photography, Travel, TT and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Travel Thursday # 8: Chat by the (Kovalam) Beach

  1. bee says:

    j, you crack me up. apologising to the chana chat man.

    I am so in awe of him, a super cook on the back of his bike! Look at him chopping those vegetables. I SHOULD have tasted it.

  2. Medhaa says:

    I guess he might be happy that you took snaps atleast, he must not have minded.

    I love taking photos in India, people are so gracious about having their photo taken. It makes it very easy. And what a wonderful subject he was, with the wonderful channa.

  3. richa says:

    that is some seriously tempting chaat…….
    did u get to taste it….lol ;D

    I have to say it was soooooooooooooo tempting.

  4. Dee says:

    The Pics are really great!! I could never resist this temptation!!

    Oh it was so hard, and looking at the pics again, I can’t believe that I didn’t succumb. BUT NEXT TIME, MR CHANNA CHAT MAN, I AM EATING YOUR WHOLE BOWL FULL!!!!!!!

  5. A-kay says:

    It is so funny the way you apologize to the Channa Man – nice name for him :)

    and what a wonderful man he was.

  6. You had such a rich experience in India and it is great to see it through your beautiful pics! I have to admire your will power, I would’ve cracked right there and then(and pay the price after!!). You should’ve eaten more mudcakes when you were little, that would’ve strenghtened that stomach, LOL! Beautiful photos like always.
    Ronelle

    Hmmm, is it too late to start with the mudcakes?

  7. sia says:

    LOL… so sorry to know u couldn’t have that delicious channa chat. oh the pics r making me hubgry! not fair…

  8. luscious photos & insight about India….I love Indian foods esp. southern Indian – thanks for sharing this…look forward to returning and reading/seeing more of your work.

    Hi tastememory girl, love that you could visit. Yes, Sth Indian food is to die for. BTW I really like your blog – glad that you visited so that I could find it.

  9. missbebop says:

    wonderfulls pictures I’ll be back!!

    Have a nice from Canada!!!

    Hi missbebop, thanks a lot. Glad you like it. Still cold in Canada? BTW, your blog is enough to make me want to polish up my French. The chocolate recipe looks so fantastic, but my small amount of French is not good enough to work out all of the instructions.

  10. Sowjanya says:

    never saw grated beetroot in chana chaat. Must try it. Forget foreigners, I lived in India for 18 years of my life and now when i go back and get myself sucked into the street food, I get sick so bad that my mother-in-law banned me from beach food :).
    Sometimes somethings feel worth to get sick for I think :)

    Sometimes it just is, isn’t it.

  11. shivapriya says:

    Hahaha, Sometimes it good to control our temptations right! last time when I went to India my son was baby and I was feeding him, so I just had home food. But this time I had all these stuff in India on my vacation. MY fav street food. Din’t really get time to take pics as my son was running around on the beach but had lots of chat and bhel:)

    Yay! I love the way India has food on demand. Just look around and there is somebody with exactly what you want, usually on the back of a bike, or on a trolley. A slice of watermelon? No problem. Icecream? Right here. Chai? yes, yes, coming right up. SO glad that you were able to eat the chat. It must have tasted SOOOOOOOO good.

  12. Lore says:

    I haven’t tried Channa Chat before but just a look at those veggies and I would have given into temptation.

    Hi Lore, hope you get to try channa chat one day – it is an amazing dish. I don’t think I can be as strong next time I am in India.

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  16. Bordeaux says:

    That seems terribly torturous. We’re really big on trying out street food and I cannot imagine how I will be able to withhold myself from trying such a delight. I guess I will have to be extra sensible when we make our way over to India one day.

    I am so really sorry that I did not try it. But everyone that I speak to who did give into temptation got sick at some point. Even Indian people who have lived away for a while. I did do some things – chai, for example. Hope you get to India soon.

    Oh, and I did get sick but not until I was home.

  17. Janani says:

    And above all the street food in India are much tastier than those available in the star hotels. I think its got to do with spice. Veg or non-veg, the local hotels and street food are much tastier than the star hotels hands down. But cleanliness wise you need to take you personal interests into account and act accordingly. Not all of these stalls are unclean nor all westerns will fall sick of consuming them. It depends on personal body conditions.

  18. Phil says:

    I was like you on my first couple of trips to India, very wary about what I ate and drank. Then finally I got sick of it all and started eating and drinking everything, even the water. Never had a day’s stomach problem and it makes life much easier – and delicious. I recommend giving it a try!

    Great photos, by the way!

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