In India, there is a chaat for every season...
It is said that the word ‘chaat’ originated from the Hindi word, ‘chaat’ which literally means ‘to lick’. Chaat was (and continues to be) the crown jewel of Delhi’s street food fare. Back in the day, it was served in plates or bowls made of leaves, these chaat items were made by highly skilled cooks and it would be so delicious that it would either make you lick your fingers or the plates clean, hence the name ‘chaat’ stuck. Over the years, of course, chaat has undergone many changes, you can find a lip-smacking chaat, or a variation of chaat in almost every major region of the country. There is a chaat for every season too, don’t believe us? Have a look at some of our favourite winter chaats.
1. Kamrak Chaat
A run-down kadhai filled with sand and coal, on top of it lay a stack of brownish, almost charred sweet potatoes. And do you know what adds a burst of colour on this tiny, make-shift stall that you spot in every nook and cranny in your neighbourhood in foggy winters? It is the carambola or the star fruit, locally known as Kamrak. This bright green fruit, when cut into slices appear like a string of stars. This citrus fruit is sharp, crisp and citrusy. It is served with a hint of lemon juice and chaat masala/or salt. Drooling already? That makes the two of us.
2. Shakarkandi Ki Chaat
Shakarkandi, or sweet potato is a pinkish tuber that is often served with cut carambola, a drizzle of lemon juice and chaat masala. Only boiled Shakarkandi is used to make the chaat, which makes it soft and biteable. You can also make this chaat at home, wherein you can add or omit ingredients as per the availability.
3. Matara Chaat
Made with boiled white peas, also called ‘Matara’ in northern parts of the country, this chaat is a mishmash of varied flavours. While boiled white peas serve as a sturdy, robust base of the chaat, chopped onions, chillies, chutneys et al add an eclectic touch.
4. Garadu Ki Chaat
An Indore-exclusive. This chaat is made with purple yam, which is first trimmed in both ends, post which it is peeled, boiled and chopped and tossed up with a tangy homemade masala called Jeeralu. In terms of looks, it may seem like a version of Shakarkandi ki Chaat, but it is only when you taste it do you realise the wide difference.
5. Daulat Ki Chaat
It is neither salty, tangy or spicy, there’s in fact nothing ‘chaat-like’ about this unique winter street food of Delhi, yet it is one of the first things we get excited about in Delhi, as soon as we sense a nip in the air. The light and foamy ‘chaat’ is actually the white layer that is scraped from the top of milk that is kept out to soak in the dew drops. Daulat ki chaat, is mixed up with nuts and cardamom before it is served, it is also known as malaiyyo in Uttar Pradesh.
6. Palak Patta Chaat
Even though spinach is available all year round now, many people in India still associate greens with winters, melons with summer and so on. Palak Patta Chaat is nothing but blades of spinach leaves, dunked in a besan batter and fried crisp. These spinach leaves are served with a smattering or curd, chutneys and chaat masala.