8 unique snacks from across India that are totally off the chaats
Ever heard of poha with jalebis or Wai Wai with aloo? You’re about to now
Had KFC not copyrighted the adage, "finger lickin good," we would have raised a petition to assign it to India's chaats. For one, the Hindi word, chaat literally translates to lick. And two, it's just more apt. Even so, there seems to be no clear answer on where this popular snack came from, with some stories tracing it back to the Mughal era. As the folklore goes, when Shah Jahan fell seriously ill and was advised to eat spicy food to kill the bacteria, someone in his kitchen came up with the dish. Then, there is mention of dahi vadas in Manossallas in the 12th century as told by veteran food historian, KT Achaya. But what is sure, is that chaat has existed within the Indian subcontinent for a long time and continues to enjoy popularity. Naturally, there's a range of options that go beyond your typical gol gappas, sev puris and bhels.
To that end, here is our roundup of the different and unusual chaats available across the country. You're going to love this one.
Laal aloo chaat, Darjeeling
While Darjeeling is famous for its momos and thukpa, there's one street delicacy that is not known to many–laal aloo, which translates to red potato. Made with lots of red chillies and spuds, this dish is served with Wai Wai instant noodles and topped with potato chips. The best place to try this street snack is right in front of Rink Mall at Laden La Road.
Shakarkandi chaat, Uttar Pradesh
Usually served by street vendors selling sweet potatoes or shakarkandi on carts, this sweet and flavourful chaat includes the vegetable cooked over coal until it becomes soft and tender. It is then cut into cubes, fried until cooked, topped with lemon juice, chaat masala and other spices.
Kulle/Kuliye ki chaat, Delhi
A Chandni Chowk speciality, kulle ki chaat is a healthy chaat from Old Delhi that does not involve fried ingredients. Made with fruits and vegetables like tomato, cucumber, potato and apples that are carved out to form cups and then stuffed with boiled chickpeas, spices, pomegranate seeds and lime juice, this one's a total winner.
Lakhanpur de bhalle, Kashmir
Originating in the town of Lakhanpur in Jammu and Kashmir, these bhallas are made with fried chickpeas or split green gram paste, much like a vada. Donned with green chutney, radish, spices and lime juice, it's a flavour bomb of sorts.
Palak patta chaat, Agra
Spinach leaves are dipped in a batter of besan, rice flour and spices and then fried until golden. Once done, the fritters are laid out on a plate and topped with chutney, curd, tomatoes, onions, spices and herbs, making it Agra's unique and flavoursome contribution to India's collection of chaats.
Idli Manchurian, Andhra Pradesh
South India is famous for a spectrum of dishes but no one really thinks of chaat when they think of the cuisine, and wrongfully so. Meet idli Manchurian–a hybrid of Chinese and South Indian food, made with fried leftover idli draped in Manchurian sauce and packed with flavour.
Poha jalebi, Indore
Have you ever eaten dessert for breakfast? Well, looks like people in Indore have. An extremely popular dish among the locals, poha jalebi is the perfect mix of sweet and spicy flavours. The poha or flattened rice is roasted with chillies, onion, cumin seeds, curry leaves and served with a sticky-sweet jalebi to boot.