January 18, 2008

Dahi Chaat - A Savory Yogurt Snack

Chaat - I suspect just the mere mention of this word gets people from India salivating. Chaat is the generic word for a range of Indian snacks, typically served by street vendors. Literally translated it means 'to lick' - these little plates of food are so lip smackingly delicious - you can't resist licking the plate clean.

There are a whole bunch of different dishes that fall under the chaat category: Dahi Puri, Pani Puri, Bhel Puri, etc. Puri - in this case, means a bite sized piece of crispy fried bread, the hollow shell of which is filled or topped with a number of different ingredients. You can find more information on chaat here.

In my version of dahi or yogurt chaat, I use store bought Armenian Cracker Bread in place of the puris. This crisp cracker bread is made with whole grain and it's baked, not fried. I load up this bread with chutneys, yogurt, spices and boiled potatoes and legumes . With all the delicious stuff on the bread, it becomes merely a crisp receptacle for the toppings. Healthy, fun, protein packed and a meal by itself, this dish is great for when I am not in the mood to cook anything elaborate. (I try to keep a mixture of boiled moong, chickpeas and potatoes in my freezer just for adding to chat.) This makes for a fun weeknight dinner.

The only specialty ingredient is the black salt*. This red or purple colored salt is mined from the earth, and has a distinct flavor that regular salt just can't provide. If you can taste the cracker bread, there aren't enough toppings on it - add more yogurt, chilli/cumin/black salt powder and taste again. It may take a couple of attempts to get the quantities right.

Dahi Chaat
(Serves about 4)

1 package Armenian Cracker bread
mint-coriander chutney, store bought or homemade (I like the Swad brand)
canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
moong, boiled
potatoes, boiled and cubed
cumin powder
black salt, powdered
red chilli powder
1 onion, chopped
a small bunch of cilantro, chopped
thin sev (optional)

Tamarind chutney
Dilute the tamarind concentrate in some water. Add brown sugar, salt, ginger powder and chilli powder to taste. It should taste sweet and sour.

1. Whisk the yogurt with some water if needed until smooth. The consistency shouldn't be too thick or too watery. Season with a little salt.
2. Season the moong, potatoes and chickpeas with salt and chilli powder
3. Spread a generous helping of the mint chutney on the bread. Top with potatoes, moong, chickpeas, onions and cilantro.
4. Drizzle yogurt and tamarind chutney on top. Sprinkle cumin, chilli powder and black salt.
5. The final topping is sev, if using, for some added crunch.

Serve right away before the bread gets soggy.

*Black salt is called kala namak or sanchal in Hindi. It is an unrefined mixture of minerals with a sulfurous smell. This is not the same as Hawaiian black sea salt, which is made by mixing sea salt with activated charcoal. No other salt is a good substitute for black salt's taste, so it is worth the trouble of getting the real thing. It is available online or in Indian grocery stores.


DK said...

Hi Minti, I luv chaats! Your pics luk amazing!

My reply to ur query in my blog:
My brands for Soy chunks are not standard and usually vary w.r.t availibility in the local Indian store. But i guess you can use any brands after giving a peep into the nutrients info in the packet. That should help you to select :)

coco said...

Hi Minti :)

Discovered your blog on Dine and Dish. I'm a relatively newbie blogger too. It's nice to meet you!

I love having chaat on the streets on Bombay, especially dahi puri and ragda pattice.

A small correction though, rock salt and black salt are two different things.

See you around! :)

Minti said...

Thanks Divya.

Hi coco,

It's nice to meet you. Thanks for the note about black salt being different from rock salt. I have updated the post to be more accurate now.