It has been a busy few months in the Sass & Spice world…. Primarily to do with that fact that I’ve been prepping and have recently taught my first course in Healthy Indian Cookery at the WI Cookery School. It was fantastic fun, although a little unnerving at the beginning! However, it was very rewarding to open people’s eyes to the fact that Indian food doesn’t have to be the greasy, heavy food that is often typical of curry houses.
To help prepare for my course, I asked a few friends over so I could practice my teaching skills. It was a tremendous help and I felt much less stressed at the WI course.
During the trial courses, I served this Jewelled Channa Chaat (Spicy Chickpea Salad) as a snack to replenish the cooks after doing a hard slog in the kitchen. I was surprised at how well it went down and a few asked for the recipe, so here it is.
It completely keeps in line with my Healthy Indian theme too. The dish is very nutritious as it includes a variety of veg and the super pomegranate (full of vitamins not to mention the natural antioxidants) but so satisfying as it has so much flavour.
Chaat, essentially is a loose term used in India to describe a multitude of savoury snacks. They are typically served on roadside or market stalls, where you will find the ingredients have all been prepped in advance. The dish is specifically made to order and its made up exactly the way you like it.
The reason why the Chaat is made up fresh is because it isn’t something you can make and leave hanging around for very long – it is best eaten fresh.
Most traditional Chaat’s I’ve tried have at least one element of fried food involved. Typical of my way, I’ve taken the best elements of the dish and added a healthy fresh twist to it so you can enjoy it guilt free. Its also very quick and easy to make-up (there is minimal cooking involved), using some basic pantry items and whatever veg you have lying around.
Perfect for friends dropping by at short notice or great for an afternoon snack (served with the mandatory cup of hot chai)!
Enjoy…… let me know how you like it.
For the Coriander Chutney
Small bunch of coriander
1 red chilli, deseeded, chopped roughly (optional)
2-3 tbsps yogurt
For the Tamarind Chutney **
¼ pack of dried tamarind or 1.5 – 2tsp tamarind paste
¼ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp ginger powder
4 tsp jaggery or 6 tsp sugar
Pinch of salt
For the Chaat
1 medium potato or sweet potato washed
10g unsalted butter + Splash of olive oil
1 can of chickpeas, drained
4-5 Carrs Table Water Black Pepper Crackers – broken roughly into medium size pieces
1/2 red or green pepper, chopped finely
1/2 red onion, chopped finely
2-3 tsps of chaat spice *
Salt to taste
3 tbsp of pomegranate seeds
* Chaat spice (also known as Chaat Masala) is a key ingredient to a Chaat dish. It is a spice powder mix that can differ subtly by region in India but typically includes some unusual spices such as dried mango powder and asafetida as well as some of the more common spices such as cumin, coriander and ginger. You could make the full recipe from scratch but I have found very good versions in the supermarkets (such as Tesco and Morrisons) or you can get it in ethic stores.
** You can also use the ready made Tamarind Chutneys that are readily available in good supermarkets
- Prepare your chutneys in advance using the methods below.
- Peel and cut the potato down the middle and parboil with ½ tsp salt for 10 mins. Once cooked, cool the potatoes enough so you can cut them up into small cubes.
- Now fry up the potato in the butter and oil. Cook on a reasonably high heat so they are crispy on outside and soft in the middle. You could also roast in oven with a little oil if you didn’t want to shallow fry them.
- To prepare the dish (do this immediately before serving so the crackers and potatoes don’t get soggy), combine the chickpeas, potatoes, crackers, peppers, red onion, and half of the coriander chutney and chaat spice and mix well.
Tip: It is best to add half of the chutney and chaat spice initially, taste, then add more as required.
- Spoon into a serving bowl. Chop the remaining coriander roughly and scatter on top with your pomegranate. You can also drizzle some of the remaining coriander chutney on top.
Feel free to play around with the vegetables in this dish. I’ve used sweet potato and tomato in the pasts that have also worked well.
- Leaving a few stalks of coriander aside for garnish, in a food processor, whizz up the remaining coriander with the chilli and a splash of water until you get a smooth paste.
- Now, add a spoon full at time of the coriander mix to the yogurt until you get a spicy, tangy chutney. Don’t add all the coriander mix to the yogurt as it may end up too spicy.
- If using the dry tamarind, you will need to soak it with the required amount of water (as per instructions) until it becomes soft and mushy. Use a sieve to separate the liquid from the pulp, using a spoon to push out as much of the liquid as you can.
- Heat the oil on a high heat in a small pan and add cumin seeds. Cover with a lid, lower the heat and allow to fry until the seeds begin to pop.
- Add the strained tamrind pulp or tamarind paste, ginger, red chilli powder and enough water to create a thick paste. Stir through gently.
- Now add the jaggery/sugar and salt and allow to cook through for 4-5 mins. The mixture will thicken but you can add more water to loosen it. Once cooled it will be ready for use.
Tip: Both chutneys freeze well so any remaining chutney can be frozen for use at a later date or it will keep in the fridge in an air tight jar for a few days.