A craving for some spice brought me today to a spicy chickpea dish, commonly sold as street food in India. It is a dish that is full of flavours found throughout India.
It’s a snack, really. Generally eaten at room temperature, it is one of the wonderful chat (chaat) dishes so integrated into the varied cuisines of India. 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.
In this dish are the flavours of India. Not the restaurant Indian dishes that are served up and called traditional, at least here in Australia. Many restaurants reduce their spices for local consumption, and the dishes are often based around sauces that are similar from one dish to another. [Update: we now have many more cafes and restaurants serving more authentic food, and even street food. However, the general rule of thumb here is the more established and the larger the restaurant, the more the dishes have been modified for local palates.]
In chaat you will find quite different flavours. I won’t say that it is 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. It is amazing and delightful.
- Chaat Masala, the spice powder used to make this wonderful and simple dish: Chaat Masala.
- See the guy on Kovalam Beach selling Channa Chaat.
- Read all about chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and how amazing they are: All about Chickpeas
You might also like to try Creamy Pearl Hummus Salad, Chickpea, Almond and Sesame Spread, or Oven Baked Chickpeas. All of our chickpea dishes are here and here, and the snacks are here and here. Or be inspired by our Indian dishes here and here.
The word chat or chaat means to lick and the word masala means spice mix in Hindi. So generally, the word chat is used for a collection of savoury and highly spicy snacks that would make you lick /smack your lips – if that was acceptable in Indian etiquette.
A note on ingredients
Chat dishes are distinguished by the Chat Masala spice mix that is used to impart the spicy flavour to the main ingredient. You can buy this, but it can be home made. You can read how here.
Jaggery is a palm sugar commonly used in India and SE Asia. You can substitute brown sugar.
Channa Chaat | Chickpea Chaat
2 cups chick peas, soaked and cooked. Keep them slightly undercooked, not overcooked. They need to still have some bite to them.
2 big boiled potatoes, peeled and chopped
1-3 green chillies finely chopped
2 tspn ginger finely chopped
1 – 2 medium onions chopped
3 Tblspn lemon or lime juice
1 tspn jaggery or fine sugar
2 Tblspn coriander leaves chopped
2 med tomatoes, chopped
Sea Salt to taste
Chat Masala to taste – start with about 0.5 Tblspn, and add more if you want it spicier.
Mix and refrigerate for 2 – 3 hours. Serve cold.
Add chopped parsley, mint and coriander and mix through. Also mung bean sprouts.
Increase the ratio of tomatoes by 2 or 3 additional tomatoes chopped into chickpeas size pieces.
Chat Masala partners very well with fruit – any tropical fruit, melons, apples, pears. Sprinkle some over the fruit or leave on the side to dip fruit pieces into.
browse some of the Chickpea recipes
- Creamy Pearl Hummus Salad
- Chickpea, Almond and Sesame Spread
- Chickpeas with Ginger Root Salad
- Oven Baked Chickpeas