Last year, I posted a recipe for papdi chaat, a variation of Indian street food that can work really well as an appetizer for gatherings. I learned that recipe from my mother, the chaat fiend, but I had actually learned a different chaat recipe from her a couple of years before that. That recipe was for channa chaat, which I’m presenting to you here today. The idea behind channa chaat is simple — it’s something snacky and savory that also works well as an appetizer. And in truth, the nice thing about this particular recipe is that it’s honestly quite healthy, so it might even work as a low-effort meal especially as the warm weather arrives and the desire to cook over a stove diminishes.
At the center of this recipe are channas (or chickpeas), as well as potatoes. Some people prepare channa chaat differently than we do, but the way I do it (and the way my mom taught me to do it) also involves adding onion, cucumber and tomatoes. Those of you who follow me closely might be shocked to hear that I actually willingly put tomatoes in a dish — the reason why I’m willing to concede on that matter is because I’m usually preparing this dish for a crowd. But I tend to use grape tomatoes since they’re somewhat firm and halving/quartering them usually results in optimally sized tomato pieces.
And then all you add to this mixture is some chaat masala (pictured a little earlier in the post), juice from a lime or two, salt and chopped up cilantro. That’s it. Lo and behold, you end up with something that has flavor, but is relatively easy to prepare. I’ve served it at Indian-themed parties, as well as other parties that have foods from a variety of backgrounds. Most recently, I took it over to a friend’s place while she held a belated housewarming.
I usually just serve the dish as is, keeping some extra chaat masala to the side for those who desire it. Most recently, I actually managed to make a batch of some Indian-style green chutney (with mint and cilantro) and take it along to complement the chaat. The aforementioned chutney is pretty easy to find at an Indian store, so you can buy it readymade and serve that with the chaat if that’s something you’d really like to do.
Take a look at how it all comes together, below:
- Serves 8 to 10 as an appetizer
- Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 3 to 4 potatoes (I like using Yukon Gold)
- 3/4 cupful grape tomatoes, halved/quartered depending on their size
- 2 Persian cucumbers, diced
- Small red onion, diced
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
- Juice of 2 limes
- 2 teaspoons chaat masala
- Green chili (optional)
- Salt to taste
- 1. Before you officially assemble the chaat, boil the potatoes until they're a bit soft (but not too mushy) and let them cool off before you peel and cube them.*
- 2. Once your potatoes have cooled down and been cut into bite-sized cubes, mix them in a large bowl with the chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber and onion. Squeeze the limes over the mixture, stir it all together, then add the chaat masala and mix everything together so that the ingredients are evenly distributed. (You may want to add slightly more or less masala depending on the strength of flavor you prefer).
- 3. Add the green chili if you're using it, followed by the cilantro and mix everything evenly together. You can now add a bit of salt according to taste and mix again.
- 4. Serve as is — or with a little chaat masala, lime wedges or Indian-style green chutney on the side.
- * My lazy potato-boiling method for when I've got too much on my plate is to cover the potatoes with a wet paper towel and microwave them for 1.5 minutes per potato (in this case, I used three potatoes and microwaved for six minutes).
- A general note - the assembly of your chaat can be done with a little visual assist. If it looks like you have too much or too little of a certain ingredient, don't hesitate to adjust the quantities.
- Adapted from Mama Rad.
Blame the theatrical release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 for this one — the song’s been stuck in my head the past few days because of that movie. But there is something about this song that puts a spring in one’s step and this channa chaat, with its fresh veggies, tinged with lime juice, often does the same for me. The crisp staccato instruments work as a perfect complement to these simple, but deep flavors.