Chaat: What it is and How You Can be a Chaat Party Bawse
Aside from finding just about any type of chaat delicious, you know what else I love about the Indian snack? It’s ability to make for a quick and impressive buffet for entertaining. Why?
Chaat is a catch all marriage of all Indian snacks coming together in a variety of ways in one dish. So you may love samosa. And you may love channa masala. And you may also love bhujiya and chutney. Well some efficient brown person thought, hey, why not put all these components together?
And that’s only one possible combination. It is challenging to define chaat as a singular dish because there are so many varieties of it.
What is Chaat?
This is chaat.
This, too, is chaat.
Yup, chaat again.
Often confronted with having to define it to non-desis, my go-to explanation is that it is a layered savory snack, perhaps drawing a loose comparison to American loaded nachos or chili.
My more involved explanation goes like this: chaat usually consists of something starchy such as fried or boiled potatoes, bread (fried or otherwise), samosa, dahi vada (fried lentil donuts), boiled chickpeas or a variety of other fried dough. This list hardly exhausts the possibilities.
The layers on top of the starch poses yet another variety of ingredients. It can be either yogurt or chutneys or maybe even a balanced mixture of both. The most commonly used chutneys are cilantro-mint and tamarind, though you’re certainly not limited to these.
The layering may go further with bhujiyas (crunchy mixes of roasted or fried chickpeas, besan flour, puffed rice, etc) and/or sev (deep fried gram flour noodles) on top, a melange of crunch if you will.
But bhajiyas aren’t the end topping so to speak. Other usual suspects for toppings may include chopped onions, coriander leaves, and chaat masala.
One can better appreciate the freedom in throwing a chaat party having somewhat of an idea of the flexibility in defining chaat and what constitutes it.
How to Throw a Chaat Party Like a Bawse
Because there are so many ways to make so many different types of chaat, you can have fun with your offerings and serve a plethora ingredients buffet style, and have your guests layer as desired.
A visit to your local desi grocery store goes a long way when entertaining and throwing a chaat party. What you will want to do is buy an array of common chaat “bases.”
You could certainly make any or all of these items at home. However, when pressed for time, I typically boil potatoes as my base or bake frozen tater tots or hash browns for a quick spin on an aloo base.
With so many dishes now being sold in the freezer section of desi grocery store, it is easier to buy items and just bake them and serve buffet style. Frozen or ready-made, you could outsource the following bases:
- ragda patties
- dahi vada
Be sure to put each base in a different vessel. Another idea is to have chana and chole for guests to put over their base. Chole is a wetter dish than chana which gives guests further choices for texture and layer.
For an easy chana aloo chaat recipe, click here. For guidance on how to make Punjabi style chole masala, click here.
Other ready-made items you may want to buy as part of your buffet are:
- tamarind chutney
- mint chutney
- chaat masala
Do not forget to put out diced onions, tomatoes, coriander leaves, and yogurt.
To make your buffet look appetizing and modern, we suggest displaying your chaat bases in colorful platters or even cake stands. Put dry item toppings such as sev and other bhajiyas in decorative bowls. Place chutneys and yogurt in large martini glasses for extra oomph!
A Short Chat about Chaat
The takeaway is that with so many varieties of chaats, you really can’t make it wrong or incorrectly. The ideas and definition of what chaat is constantly redefined as gourmands are getting creative with the bases and layering.
Looking for inspiration on how to take your chaat to an innovative level? Hit up the following links and see how creative cooks are taking their chaat game to the next level.