The Foopath Gourmet

It's chaat time!


Yes, the Taj Mahal and Khajuraho make us famous. But for the Indian palette its home grown chaats are no less than the seven wonders, reports Kusumlata.


There must be something about chaats or street food of India that multinationals with their strictly “untouched by human hand” variety of chips and burgers have not been able to replace. Bombay is proud of its bhel puri and pao bhaji. Agra has its gol gappas. Ambala offers seven types of tangy water with pani puri and Gujarat has its sweet-salty dabeli. Bengal offers jhaal murhi, rice flakes spiced with raw mustard oil. And then there is the unending variety of south Indian snacks. The lovers of Mysore dosa swear that you don’t get the roadside variety – the kind with Amul butter and beetroot – anywhere except those stalls. Likewise Punjab has its dhai-bhalle and chole bhature to offer. And yes, there is Amitabh Bachchan and the Benarasi chana jor garam that he made famous.

And trulychaat tastes best when had on the roadside, though there are a few grannies in crannies of old lanes of Delhi, Agra and Lucknow who would debate that.

Each region of India has its own chaats to offer and the footpath gourmet loves to have them all under one roof or on one sidewalk. Liberalisation has done this to India, so you can find the Calcutta jhaal murhi tokriwala in Mumbai’s Vile Parle and Delhi’s Defense Colony. Peppered with raw mustard oil, the rice puffs and peanuts acquire a pungent taste that is unparalleled. There are many things that affect the chaats. Seasons being one of them. With its extremes of cold and heat, North India has perfected many spicier varieties of chaats. Summers see bevy of pani-puri walas and winters see roast sweet potato carts liberally crowding the sidewalks. In summers it is dahi (curd), set in a flat earthen vessel that is used in many a chaat. To be readied for a chaat dish it is whipped till creamy and frothy, and seasoned with a dash of sugar and salt.


The connoisseur would have the imli (tamarind) and gur mixed just so right and the chaat would be so hot as to make your eyes water. That is when the kulfi or lassi would taste as they should. For these along with the inevitable chuski are the sweet accompaniments to the spicy chaat. While matka kulfi (ice cream set in a clay pot) is a hrefined accompaniment, the gola, known variously as kulfi, chuski and chinn in different parts of the country promises colourful delights. This desi ice slush in flavors like kala khatta, orange, lime and a few others are an integral part of street food in the summers. You will come across golawallas peddling their wares at beaches, street corners in the heat of Indian summer.

Then there are chatnis, dry and wet without which any chaat is incomplete. Mumbai offers you dry lehsun or garlic chatni. South Indians can’t think of their chaat without coconut chatni. And the queen of them all is the saunth from the Northern part of India. No one state can claim it as its own. Sprinkled with dates, raisins, fresh grapes, or pomegranate seeds the imli chatni can make any chaat worth its salt.
While weddings are the universal thing. Most lavish weddings these days include a chaat stall, unless you are a salad freak. A complete chaat platter would include golgappas or pani-puris (small crisp puris filled with tangy fiery water) or alu tikkis (crisp fried potato cutlets); khatte mattar (sour peas); and papri (flat puris topped with diced boiled potatoes, chick peas, saunth and dahi). You need a sweet after you have enjoyed the smoke coming out of your ears, though most chaat walas give you a choice of “tez (very spicy), medium, sweet or khatta (sour).”


There is chaat that cools and there is chaat that warms. Kala namak (black rock salt),amchur (dried mango powder),kali mirch (black pepper),bhunna zeera (roasted cuminseed), saunth (tamarind chatni), and fresh herbs like pudina (fresh mint) and hara dhania (coriander) are used instead of the more staid variety of spices. The colourful golas are replaced by jalebis – crisp saffron-flavoured ones with milk spiked generously with dry-fruits in the winters.

Gol Gappas Or Pani Puri or Puchkas


For puris (50)

150 gm maida (refined flour)
50 gm atta (wheat flour)
50 gm fine sooji (semolina)
50 gm ghee
cold water to bind
refined oil to deep fry
(An option is to buy the puris readymade and make the pani and the filling at home.)

For Pani

11/2 litres water boiled and chilled
11/2 tablespoon fresh coriander and mint paste
3 tablespoon tamarind paste
21/2 teaspoonamchur (dried mango powder)
1/2 teaspoon soonth (dried ginger powder)
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon black rock salt
75 gm jaggery
salt to taste
25 gm gramflour boondis (available readymade, soaked just before serving and put into the water)
2 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander leaves,
12 fresh mint leaves

For the filling:

2 large potatoes boiled peeled and cut into small cubes 
chole (chickpeas) boiled
1 small bunch fresh coriander chopped
salt to taste
moong sprouts (available readymade)

For making puris, mix all three types of flour.

Add a little water at a time to bind the mixture into stiff dough.
Cover it with a damp cloth and keep in a cool place for half an hour.

Divide the dough into four equal parts and knead again.

Make small balls of dough and roll out to 1 mm thickness and 6 inches diameter.

Alternately (if you can’t get them round), with a biscuit-cutter or katori (6 cm diameter) cut into rounds.
Cover the puris with an oiled cloth.

Heat oil in a kadai on high heat until it smokes. Reduce heat. Wait a couple of minutes.
Put the puris a few at a time into the kadai.

Make sure that they are puffy. Cook on medium heat till golden and crisp on both sides.

Remove onto a wire tray. Leave to cool.

Filling: Mix and keep aside.

For pani mix all ingredients to make a spicy liquid. Check for taste.

Just before eating make a hole on the thinner side of the puris. Put a bit of filling in each.

Stir the pani and pour into bowls. Dunk gol gappas into pani and serve.

Alu Tikkis


Outer covering

3/4 kg potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
salt to taste
Oil/ghee to shallow fry

For the filling:

150 gm chana dal (split yellow gram) soaked for 2 hours and cooked till soft and dry.
50 gm chopped cashewnuts
25 gm magaz (mixed seeds of melon, cucumber)
1/2 teaspoon amchur (dried mango powder)
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 tbsp oil/ghee
salt to taste

Heat the ghee and put dal into it. Stir and cook for a minute mashing it lightly.

Add cashew nuts, raisins, and magaz. Add spices and keep aside to cool.

Divide the mashed potato into 12 equal portions.

Flatten the portions in your palm like you do for rotis. Place 1 teaspoon filling in the centre and close.

Pat to flatten again to a round about 6 cm in diameter.

Heat a thick, flat tava (griddle).

Rub the surface generously with oil/ghee. Place the tikkis on the tava and cook on a slow fire, sprinkling oil/ghee at intervals.

Cook till crisp and brown on both sides. Remove. Split horizontally with a sharp knife.

Top with chatnis.

The Chatnis

Imli Ki Chatni


150 gm tamarind paste
150 gm jaggery
3/4 teaspoon black rock salt
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon roasted zeera powder
1 teaspoon dry ginger powder
5 dates finely chopped
salt to taste
2 cups water


Heat the water and add dates to it and keep boiling. After a minute of boiling add jaggery. Stir till it melts.

Add the tamarind paste. Add the spices and cook till the mixture is thick in consistency.

Hari Chatni


1 bunch fresh coriander leaves
25 fresh mint leaves
1 green chilli
11/2 teaspoon amchur
salt to taste
1/2 cup water

Grind all the ingredients to a fine paste.  

Jhal Murhi

1 packet smooth puffed rice
2 boiled potatoes, diced into cubes
Watery tamarind paste
One bowlful Boiled whole chana
1 green chilli
1 cucumber, grated
1 piece soft coconut
2 medium size tomatoes
salt, red chilli, garam masala to taste
1 tablespoon mustard oil
Coriander leaves for garnish

Mix all ingredients well and top it with coriander leaves for garnish. 




2 cup white peas, soaked overnight
4 cup water
11/2 tablespoon oil
4 green chillies
A few sprigs of coriander and mint leaves
1/2 teaspoon black salt
1 teaspoon each ground pepper, turmeric, powdered cumin seeds and garam masala.

Wash and boil (or pressure cook) the peas till soft.
Separate 4 tablespoons peas with green chillies, mint and coriander.
Add the above paste to oil heated in a pan and fry till it separates from the oil.
Add the other ingredients (except peas) and fry for 2-3 minutes more.
Add peas and water and bring the gravy to boil.
Simmer on slow heat till gravy thickens (about 10 minutes).

For Patties

 6 potatoes boiled, peeled, mashed
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup semolina (rawa)
10 finely chopped green chillies
4 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon ginger (grated)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder.


Mash the potatoes well and mix all the ingredients (except oil)
Make 15 round or oval flat 1/2 inch thick patties
Heat enough oil for shallow frying in a pan
Fry a few at a time, flip them once one side is done.
Remove from heat when crisp and golden brown.

For Garnish

1 onion chopped finely
Coriander leaves finely chopped
curd (optional)
roast and crushed umin seeds

Serve with two types of chutneys, chopped onions and coriander, beat curd. Sprinkle cumin and salt.

Place 2 patties in a bowl on a bed of ragda.

Cholé -Bhaturé


For Cholé

11/2 cup kabuli (white) channa soaked overnight
11/2 large tomato
3 large onions
3 tablespoon chopped coriander
11/2 teaspoon ginger grated
11/2 teaspoon garlic crushed
11/2 teaspoon lemon juice
3 tablespoon oil, 11/2 tablespoon ghee
5 green chillies slit
3 bay leaves
11/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
11/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon each garam masala, ground pepper
salt to taste


Pressure cook the cholé in a cooker with the bay leaves till done

Blend and keep aside 1 tomato, 11/2 onion, some cooled cholé and 1tablespoon coriander

Finely chop the remaining tomatoes and onions

Heat oil and give a tadka of cumin seeds

Add ginger-garlic and fry for a minute

Add the chopped tomatoes, onion and fry till tender

Add the blended paste and fry for 3-4 minutes more

Add all the dry masala except cinnamon and cloves

Stir and fry till oil separates.

Add drained cholé and 2 cups water and bring to boil

Simmer till the gravy thickens.

For seasoning heat ghee in a small pan.

Add the chillies.

Add chopped coriander to the ghee and pour the mix over the cholé just before serving.

For Bhaturé

3 cups plain flour (maida)
2 tablespoon curds
2 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon soda bicarb
salt to taste
Milk to knead
Oil to deep fry


Sieve together flour, salt and soda.
Add and mix in curds and oil.
Add enough milk to knead into a soft pliable dough.
Cover with a wet cloth.
Keep aside for 5-6 hours. Make sure the cloth does not get too dry
Knead dough again. And roll it into small chapptis.
Fry in hot  oil, till they turn light gold

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