This is another street food favourite that can be served on its own, as a snack, a nourishing lunch or as a side dish to a more complex meal. Channa chaat or chole chaat is a simple dish, with quite amazing flavours.
This dish is found all over India and particularly from almost every snack vendor in Delhi. Typically, it is served cold, but I have had it with the chickpeas straight from the pan, still hot, tossed with the vegetables and chutney. This is how I now serve it in winter as a side dish.
The two highlight flavours are chaat masala and tamarind and date chutney. The sweetness of chutney helps mitigate the sharpness of the onion, and the tamarind base adds a dimension of sourness. This is a dish that highlights the fresh vegetables, and has layers of complexity in its taste.
You are advised to be subtle with both the chutney and chaat masala, as too much of either can overpower this dish. It is really about the chickpeas and vegetables.
The sev that is mentioned are chickpea flour (besan) noodles. They give some interest to the texture by adding some crunch to the dish. Sev is readily available from good Indian grocers. So too is chaat masala, and the tamarind chutney – but you will also find recipes for both these in this cookbook.
You can develop this recipe in several ways. One favourite is to include cubes of boiled potato. We also serve this in lettuce cups to make it an easier finger food.
If you are in a hurry, you could use canned chickpeas. They won’t taste quite as good and will need to be well rinsed.
- 1 cup sev (see notes)
- 1 tbsp mint leaves
Wash chickpeas in several changes of water. Cover with water, and leave to soak overnight.
Put chickpeas in a pot and add salt and fruit salts. Cover with water, bring to a simmer and cook chickpeas till softened, but still firm – around one hour. Remove from heat and drain well. If you want a warm salad, continue directly to next steps, or set aside and refrigerate if required.
Place drained chickpeas in a bowl with onion, tomato, cucumber, and chilli. Sprinkle with the chaat masala, and toss well to coat. Taste and add a little salt if required.
Add the tamarind and date chutney, and stir gently to combine.
Sprinkle with sev, garnish with mint leaves and serve.
- Fruit salt is marketed under the brand name Eno. It is best obtained from a pharmacist, as supermarkets seem to only stock flavoured variants. It can be substituted with baking soda - not baking powder.
- sev are fried chickpea flour noodles and are readily available from good Indian grocers.