The secret of Orchha’s aloo tikki chaat
Image Credit: Photo: iStockphoto

It was a cold November night in Orchha. At hotel Bundelkhand Riverside, an erstwhile royal resort, a wedding was in full swing and drinks flowed freely. But, the chaat counter was busier than the bar. Guests who had flown in from cities around the world and India queued up for just one dish—aloo tikki chaat. To my mind, it was and still remains, the perfect balance of spicy and tangy flavours, and mushy and crispy textures that define street food.

Orchha in Madhya Pradesh was the capital of the Bundela dynasty from the 16th to 18th century. Now, it is populated by temples and forts, and the sights and sounds of street food vendors are impossible to miss. Sweet sellers have piles of kalakand and pedas on display, dry fruits-infused milk acts as a thirst quencher and people make a beeline for crispy aloo tikki chaats served in dry leave bowls or donas. The tikkis, accompanied by warm mushychole, are delightfully crispy and they break open to reveal a soft centre. Streaked with sweetish tamarind chutney and a spicy coriander and mint chutney, they reflect the many influences that shaped the street food of a bustling town. To put it simply, no one can eat just one.

“Orchha is about 50 kilometres away from Uttar Pradesh. Its cuisine, especially street food, has been influenced by migrants workers who moved from UP to settle there,” says food researcher Ruchi Shrivastava who specialises in cuisines from Madhya Pradesh. The aloo tikki and chole pairing is universal, but certain ingredients like dark roasted cumin powder, anardana and sweet dahi were added later as street food evolved in Orchha. In the last 10 years or so, there has been an influx of migrant workers as the small town transformed into a hotspot for weddings and weekend getaways. As tourism picked up, more workers moved there and street food got a boost.

The tikkis are extra crispy because they’re slightly flattened and double fried. Chutneys are integral to each serving, and along with tamarind and mint, some vendors also add khatai ki chutney or aamchur chutney for a slight tang. The latter is quicker and more economical for street vendors and some skip the tamarind chutney completely, says Shrivastava. She shares a recipe of aloo tikki chaat redolent with the flavours of Orchha’s streets.


Aloo Tikki

4 large potatoes, boiled grated

4 tbsp refined flour

2 tbsp corn flour

4 green chillies, chopped

Bunch of coriander, chopped

Salt as per taste

1 tsp kala namak

Half tsp roasted jeera, coarsely crushed

Chopped onion, optional

Amchur Ki chutney or khatai ki chutney

1 cup water

1 cup sugar ( most vendors use sugar instead of jaggery)

4-5 tbsp amchur

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp black pepper

One-fourth tsp black salt

Half tsp dry ginger powder

4 to 5 chuhara/ dry dates (mostly vendors avoid this)

Green Chutney

1 cup fresh coriander

Half cup fresh mint

4 green chilies

4 garlic cloves

2 inch ginger

Salt as per taste

Chole for the chaat

200 gm soft boiled chana with salt

Half tsp jeera

2 black cardamom

2 bay leaves

Half tsp black pepper

2 onions, chopped

2 tomatoes, grated

2 inch ginger

1.5 tsp amchur

1 tsp red chilli powder

1 tbsp coriander powder

Half tsp garam masala

1 cup imli water

Half tsp cumin powder, coarsely grounded

Black salt as per taste

Imli- Khajur ki chutney

1 cup tamarind, brown

Half cup dark jaggery

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp black salt

Table salt, if needed


Aloo Tikki

Mix all the ingredients. Now, apply a little oil in the palm of your hands and make medium-sized tikkis. Shallow fry the tikkis in an open pan till a fragile crust is formed. Allow them to rest. Before serving, slightly flatten the tikkis and fry in ghee to get the beautiful crispy texture.

Amchur Chutney

Pre-soak the dates and keep aside. In a vessel, mix water and sugar and bring to boil. Now, add the powdered spices and let them cook for 5 minutes. Add sliced dates and cook again for a few minutes. Taste and adjust sweet and sour flavours according to your liking.

Green chutney:

Blend all the ingredients together, check salt.


In a pan, heat some oil, add cumin, black cardamom, bay leaves, whole black pepper, ginger and green chillies. Saute for a few seconds. Add chopped onions and stir till the onions turn slightly brown. Now, add the soft boiled chole, red chilli powder, coriander powder, amchur powder, garam masala powder and mix all the ingredients. Cover and cook. Add grated tomato, imli water and cook till it becomes a semi thick curry. Add black salt, jeera powder and salt. It should be a thick and dark brownish gravy. Remove all the whole spices from the chole.

To assemble the chaat:

In a plate or bowl, place the flattened double-fried hot aloo tikkis. Top up with the three chutneys. Spoon over the chole. Garnish with chopped onions, tomatoes, coriander, red chilli powder and the coarsely grounded cumin powder. Crush some puris and sprinkle on top. Alternately, you can add sev and pomegranate arils. Fresh plain curd can be added too; it is unique to Madhya Pradesh. If the curd is sweetened with sugar, Shrivastava says, it is a North Indian influence.