Chaat Salad

Chaat is one the yummiest things to eat ever invented. Different parts of India have different versions of chaat, and each region boasts of many kinds of chaat.

Unfortunately, a fair few chaats centre on deep fried and other unwholesome ingredients that aren’t exactly healthy. Plus, street chaats can often be dicey for people with sensitive tummies.

My cravings for chaat led me to one of my favouritest kitchen experiments. I combined my love for chaat with my love for salads, and out popped chaat salads – all the fun of a chaat, all the nutrition of a salad. (Yes, I know that slogan is rubbish. I think I can afford that, though, since the actual dish is delish!)

The trick is absurdly simple – dress your salad with a chaat chutney. And choose a combo of mild, sweet and crunchy veggies.

Here is the chaat salad I make most often and love best. It’s dressed with saunth chutney – a sweet and sour chutney starring dried ginger powder.

Chaat Salad

Saunth chutney:

  • Tamarind – 2-inch piece (Or use 1 tbsp thick pulp + 2 tbsp water.)
  • Jaggery powder – 1 tbsp, or more to taste
  • Dried ginger powder – 1 scant tsp
  • Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp (Use less or replace with Kashmiri chilli powder for a less pungent chutney.)
  • Rock salt – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp, or more to taste

Soak tamarind in a couple tbsp of hot water for at least 10 minutes. Squeeze to extract pulp and strain. Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring to make sure all the powders dissolve. Turn off heat after a couple minutes and let cool.

Salad:

  • Cucumber, chopped small – 1 big
  • Bell peppers, chopped small – 2 small or 1 big
  • Carrots, minced – 2 small or 1 big
  • Sweet corn kernels, lightly steamed – 3 to 4 tbsp
  • Spring onions, whites + greens, chopped small – 3 to 4 tbsp
  • Salad greens, torn into bits – a couple handfuls (I use lettuce for its mild taste.)
  • Chickpeas, soaked, cooked in salted water and drained – 3 to 4 tbsp (I used brown chickpeas for the salad in the photo.)
  • Potatoes, boiled and peeled – 2 small or 1 big

Combine all ingredients except the potatoes in a huge bowl. Crumble the potatoes into the bowl. Add the chutney and toss well. Your salad is ready.

Don’t skip the crumbled potato. It absorbs and holds the chutney. This delivers the chutney’s sweet-sour yumminess to your mouth in every bite, instead of it pooling uselessly at the bottom of the bowl!

If you aren’t going to eat all of the salad right away, I recommend tossing the ingredients without the chutney and then adding chutney to smaller portions before you eat. The salt in the chutney draws water out of the veggies; and while very useful, the fluid-retaining properties of the potato are limited.

Chaat is no longer junk food. You’re welcome 😀

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