A Punjabi Chana Chaat story
A Punjabi without chole (chickpeas) is like a fish out of water! We grow up eating chole like it is nobody’s business. Our weekends demand chole, and we usually serve them with deep fried bread or rice. There is hardly a Punjabi, who doesn’t swear by ‘Mummyji ke haath ke bane chole’ (chickpeas cooked by their mother).
And, if we don’t get enough of these gas-inducing delights of heaven, we move towards chane, which are the smaller and darker version of chickpeas. Typically we make them during the time of Navratri, where we invite Goddess Shakti to bless our homes. Apart from this particular festival, they usually can get a little overshadowed by their bigger cousins.
However, we are not the people who neglect food, so another way in which we eat chane is by making a chaat. Chaat basically means ‘to lick’; it is a term for North Indian street food that is now popular throughout the country, and also the world. I guess the reason behind the name is because it is finger-licking good!
The process of chaat making using involves one key ingredient, and that is then topped and seduced with an array of mouth-watering ingredients that make the dish an out-of-this-world experience!
I can recount the number of times I have gone chaat hopping with friends or family, from one street vendor to the other. Gorging on these temptations are almost a religious experience with the explosion of sweet, sour, cold, warm in your mouth. And Chana Chaat has to be my favourite.
Like everything I make in my kitchen, this chaat hardly takes any time especially if you have the chana pre-boiled. Usually, I cook the chana a day or two in advance to make the process even simpler.
There are different versions and variations of this chaat, but I am sticking to my simple, whatever-is-in-the-fridge formula and I am not disappointed at all. The chaat can be served hot or cold depending on what suits your mood and is a lip-smacking treat for a cold, rainy evening.
Recipe for Chana Chaat (serves 4-6 average-sized portions)
For the Chana
1 ½ cup black chana (black chickpeas)
Salt to taste
1. Soak the channa in 3 cups of water overnight or for 8 hours. Next day cook them with some salt in a pressure cooker till done.
2. Throw away all the water and refrigerate the chana if not using immediately. The chana will stay fresh for at least 2 to 3 days.
For the Chaat
1 large finely chopped onion
2 medium sized finely chopped tomatoes
1 -2 finely chopped green chillies
1 large potato boiled and chopped into small cubes
A good bunch of freshly chopped coriander leaves
Salt to taste
1 ½ tsp red chilli powder (you can use it depending on your taste)
1 ½ tsp Chaat masala (available in Indian shops)
Lemon wedges to sprinkle on individual servings
1. Take a big bowl and add the chana in the bowl without any water. You can warm the Chana if you like your salad warm.
2. Add all the ingredients at this stage in the bowl except the lime juice and mix well.
3. Let the salad sit for 30 minutes before you serve in individual bowls and sprinkle lime juice on top just before eating.
1. You can make this chaat in advance. Just add the onion and salt 30 minutes before you serve.
2. You can also add pomegranate seeds to make it look pretty.