Chaat (which means ‘lick‘ in Hindi) lives upto its name. It is a spicy-sweet-sour Pakistani/North Indian salad which makes you want to lick your plate clean. In my family, a birthday tea party is not complete without a bowl of chaat served alongside hot milky tea, birthday cake and some good gossip.
There are many versions of Chaat, which can include any of the following: channa (chickpeas), boiled potatoes, aloo tiki (fried potato cakes), sev (dried chickpea noodles), or papri (crisp fried dough).
Here, I’ve put together a quick and easy version of Channa Chaat which requires no cooking. Instead of buying pre-blended Chaat Masala (which is a combination of several spices), I prefer to use a few spices which I always have in my kitchen: cumin powder, chilli powder and salt. Tamarind paste, which is an integral ingredient in most Chaats, can be bought in most large supermarkets or ethnic grocery stores, and has a good shelf-life in the refrigerator.
CHANNA CHAAT (SPICY CHICKPEA SALAD)
Spicy Tamarind Dressing Ingredients:
2 Tbsp smooth tamarind paste (from a jar)
4 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp brown sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp fine table salt
1/4-1/2 tsp hot chilli power (add more or less according to your taste, or omit entirely) (optional)
2 tsp freshly boiled water
500g cooked chickpeas (either drain 2 tins of chickpeas, or boil 250g dried chickpeas)
8oz / 200g cucumber, quartered and sliced horizontally
8oz / 100g tomatoes, deseeded and diced (roughly the same size as the cucumber pieces, or quartered if using cherry tomatoes)
4 Tbsp / 4oz / 80g red onion, peeled and finely diced
4 Tbsp tightly packed cilantro/coriander leaves, roughly chopped
1-2 sliced green chillies, finely sliced (deseeded if you want less spice, or omit entirely) (optional)
- Prepare the Spicy Tamarind Dressing by combining all ingredients together and whisking well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Remember that it is better to start with less chilli powder and add more if necessary. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
- For the chickpeas, lightly rinse and drain good quality tinned chickpeas (you want around 500g after draining out all the liquid). If you prefer to cook your own chickpeas, this can be done by soaking 250g dried chickpeas in room temperature water for 8-24 hours. Discard the saoking water and then boil in fresh water for 30-45 minutes (uncovered). When the chickpeas are tender, drain them and allow them to cool to room temperature.
- Chop the cucumber, tomatoes, cilantro/coriander leaves, red onion and green chillies (optional), and toss them together with the room temperature chickpeas.
- Add the Spicy Tamarind Dressing and toss well until the salad is evenly coated.
- Refrigerate and serve cold. If it is too spicy, mix some plain yogurt with a small amount of cold water to thin it out, and drizzle it over the Channa Chaat.