America’s Chaat Chef

Well, it’s over. The Packer’s season, the sev puri, the illusion that everyone everywhere is delighted to have freshly made chaat in abundant supply in their kitchen. Sometimes chaat is too much: onion, spice, chutney, crunchy things you can’t pronounce. As America’s Chhat Chef, you also don’t do yourself any favors arriving after kickoff and serving sev puri after everyone has eaten dinner. Lessons learned, universe!

Chutney Challenged commendations do go out to my onion-averse friend for trying a bite of sev puri and to her sister, who went all-in on a full piece (that’s one “biscuit,” with all the toppings) of dahi puri (that’s sev puri, topped with a dollop of yoghurt). Thank you for being there for Chutney Challenged, Anne and Ellen.


Dahi puri on a platter. I think maybe I used too much dahi and not enough sev.

Soon enough I will post a recipe. It will be located in a clearly marked blogpost titled something like:




Which one do you like?

After Saturday’s sev-puri situation, I sevved face (good time to be reminded, sev sounds like “save”) by inviting over two other friends. Together we ate 5-6 biscuits, each.

And that’s how sev puri should go down.

Chit chaat

I admit it. I have been lazy, American, uninterested these last ten years. 

Hindi and Gujarati words have driven dialogue and dining menus in my home for the last ten years. “Puri” “pani” “chaat” “mehti” “asafoetida””ghatia” “dahi” have been part and parcel of family conversations, but I am only just now trying to appreciate these words, understand how they fit together, meld them into menus through my own two hands.

This is the kind of revelation that belongs at the beginning of a blog, but here we go, better late than never. We are making chaat. This just dawned on meMumbai street food is not a bad, slangy shorthand for these street-corner delicacies. But when you’re googling recipes, buying groceries and talking up your kitchen endeavors, it’s good to know that this is chaat, many things are chaat, and the vocabulary, texture and flavors of chaat are to some degree interchangeable.


Chaat. It has its own masala, its own vocabulary. Its own blogs! Here it’s seen with chutney, raw vatana, sev, red chili powder and banana chips.


So you’ve had bhel puri. It’s a chaat. You’ll recognize the mint and tamarind chutneys of bhel puri and ragda patties in subsequent chaat recipes. In a few hours, I’ll be boiling potatoes and dicing tomatoes for  sev puri. It’s primary difference from other puri-based chaats? Sev, and lots and lots of it. The potatoes can be dressed on their own, or joined with chickpeas as the sev puri base. From what I can tell, top the concoction with “curd” (that’s plain yoghurt) and it becomes dahi puri. 

But no need to take my word for it! Here’s some chaat chat from the experts at wikipedia:

I will leave you for now. My dad is here. He says he won’t read my blog. He’s not much of an “internet reader,” so I understand. So I’m going to make him sample the new mint-coriander chutney recipe I blended up last night. Chutney recipes. I need to post those. After trying to make it on my own with a coriander-only recipe, I have got to say it: use the mint. Recipes to follow. Sooner. Maybe later.


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