July 06, 2022
Chaat — a family of roadside salty, sweet, tangy and crunchy snacks in India — come in many sizes, shapes and flavors. After leaving India, this is the food I missed most and, over time, taught myself how to make versions of it.
These days, I can pretty much turn anything into a chaat if I just have the right sauces, which usually comprise of a creamy yogurt sauce flecked with cumin, a bright herby cilantro chutney or just a handful of herbs and something sweet — perhaps diced mango or peaches, or just a dash of sugar. The crunch can come via crushed nuts, tortilla or potato chips. Top it off with a sprinkle of black salt and roasted crushed cumin seeds and there you have a chaat.
1 1/2 pounds purple potatoes
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 serrano pepper, minced
1 tablespoon minced unpeeled ginger
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 to 3 tablespoons minced mint leaves
Juice from 1 lime
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt (see notes)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons toasted peanuts
Serves 4 to 6
In a small stockpot over high heat, fill water 2 to 3 inches above the potatoes, bring to a boil and let them simmer, covered, for 10 to 12 minutes. Turn the heat off and let them rest in the water for about an hour. Drain and refrigerate. The potatoes should be cold before you make the salad.
To make the salad, slice the potatoes and toss them in a serving bowl with 1/2 teaspoon salt, sliced onions, serrano, ginger, cilantro, mint, and lime juice.
In a separate bowl, whisk the yogurt and season it with 1 teaspoon of sea salt and sugar. In a small frying pan over high heat, warm the olive oil and pop the cumin seeds. Immediately, take the pan off the heat and stir them into the yogurt. Pour the yogurt over the potatoes and garnish with toasted peanuts and a few mint or cilantro leaves. You can make this a few hours ahead of time and keep it fresh in the refrigerator.
There are many ways to vary this salad — add 1/2 of a diced mango or peaches; instead of peanuts, add a nut or seed of your choice.
If using Greek-style yogurt, use only 1 cup and smooth it out with 1 cup of water. The yogurt mix should be thick and creamy, not watery, so adjust accordingly.
Replace half the salt with black salt, if you can get your hands on some. It will have a sulfurous noxious odor at first, but it will fade, and the flavor will more than make up for it.
December 02, 2022