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.
Channa Chaat: 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.
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.
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.
Looks so good.
All I could do is take photos.
Oh the agony of it. Oh how I want beetroot in my channa chat too.
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 ….
BTW, Channa Chat is made from Chickpeas.