Chaat Masaa is a very special spice mix from India, full of wonderful, contradictory flavours. There are many ways to use it, and it is an essential ingredient to many street foods, including the wonderful Chickpea (Channa) Chaat, Kachumber Salad and Channa Chaat on Kovalam Beach. You will also find it on Watermelon Salad, Borlotti Bean Chaat, Spicy Vegetable Sticks and Chickpeas and Young Ginger Salad.
Chaat or Chat are appertisers, teasers or small bites eaten as a snack. They are flavoured with this very special spicy and tart spice mix that pairs well with vegetables, lentils and fruit. It is particularly used to flavour fried pastries, potato dishes, chickpeas and tomato based salads.
Chat or Chaat – Indian Street Food
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.
Chaat is traditionally sold by street hawkers in India and comes under a group of foods known as Indian Street Foods.
Chaat dishes are distinguished by Chat Masala which imparts a the spicy sour “woh hoh” flavour to the main ingredient of a chat dish. You can buy this powder, but you can also make your own – it is much superior. It is easy to make and you can vary it to your heart’s content. Then make Chat with Chickpeas as often as you like.
Asafoetida, mango powder (amchur), and black salt help to distinguish the chat masala from other masalas, giving the blend a sourness and tang that makes it a welcome accompaniment to fresh fruit and other snacks.
Black salt (which is actually reddish gray), available at Indian food stores, is highly mineralised, and has a distinctive flavour that’s quite different from sea salt or table salt. Use in small quantities. It has a strongly mineralised aroma as well as taste.
- Chaat Masala is a mix of hot and tangy spice that is used to spice up many snacks, salads, fruit salads, fruit juices, and some curries.
- Add it to fried nuts, yoghurt and yoghurt dishes.
- You can use it in all sorts of Indian chat recipes.
- Or sprinkle 1-2 tspn on your fruit or vegetable salad, squeeze a little lemon juice over the salad, mix it thoroughly and enjoy!
- Especially nice is fresh fruit sprinkled with lime juice and chat masala.
You can make this masala in advance and store it in a jar. It will keep a number of months to years, but all masalas (curry powders) are best made often for maximum flavour.
1 Tblspn cumin seeds
1 tspn fennel seeds
1 tspn ajwain seeds (optional)
1 – 2 whole red dried chillies
1 Tbspn coriander seeds
0.5 Tblspn black peppercorns
1 Tblspn garam masala
1 Tblspn mango powder (amchur)
0.5 Tblspn black salt
1 tspn cayenne pepper or chilli powder
1 pinch asafoetida powder
0.5 Tblspn sea salt
To add “warmth” to the mix (not chilli heat, just a nice body warmth) include:
1 tspn cloves
1 tspn nutmeg
1 tspn cardamom powder or seeds
1 tspn cinnamon powder or 2.5 cm stick cinnamon
Dry roast the following spices separately in a heated frying pan. I put my mortar next to the stove and as I roast each one, I tip it into the mortar ready for grinding:
– fennel, cumin, ajwain, dried chillies, coriander, peppercorns, cardamom seeds
Roast them individually until each one browns a little and a rich aroma arises. You will know when you smell it. Be careful with the chilli – they burn easily.
Put the asafoetida powder into the frying pan and roast for 30 seconds or less. Add to the mortar.
Add the remaining ingredients and grind to a powder. You can of course use a blender or spice grinder.
Keep in an airtight jar.