top of page


Chaat (Indian streetfood) is a snack that combines the different flavours of Indian cuisine - khatta (sour), meetha (sweet), teekha (hot) and chatpata (spicy) - all in one plate.

Embedded in Indian culture, chaat is a street food eaten at any time of day. There are food trucks, tea stalls and mobile food stands on almost every street corner. The snack is freshly and individually prepared by the chaatwala (snack vendor). With Dahi Papdi Chaat (crispy, paper-thin crackers served with yogurt), for example, chilies can provide the necessary spiciness, or you can drizzle some tamarind chutney on top for extra acidity. Add some yogurt for a cooling effect. Dust with more Chaat Masala to enhance the flavor. As I said, it's all up to your own individual specifications.


According to folklore, the word chaat comes from its literal meaning in Hindi, which is "to lick." The dish was so delicious that people licked their fingers and the dona (bowl of leaves in which chaat is often served). Others believe it was derived from the term chatpati (spicy). However, no one knows the real origin.


One story my mom Flory told me goes like this: During the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan in the 16th century, Cholera broke out in India. Desperate attempts were made by doctors and hakims to control the disease. One proposed remedy was to prepare food with lots of spices so that the bacteria in water would be killed. Thus, was born sweet and spicy chaat, which is believed to have been consumed by the entire population of Delhi.


My father Stanley had a very different opinion: chaat must be attributed to an imperial court physician named Hakim Ali, who realized that the polluted water in a disused local canal could lead to serious communicable diseases. He thought the only way to prevent this was to add a generous dose of spices, such as Tamarind, red Chilies, Coriander, Mint, etc., to the food. The food was therefore called chatpati (spicy).


Chaats are absolute experiences for the taste buds. The chaat variants are mostly based on fried dough, with various other ingredients. The original chaat is a mixture of potato pieces, crispy fried dough made from lentil or chickpea flour, whole chickpeas, spicy-salty spices such as hot Indian chilies and saunth (dried ginger), tamarind sauce, fresh green Coriander leaves and yogurt for garnish. 


Other popular varieties include Pyaz Bhajia (onion fritters), Alu Tikkis (stuffed potato rolls) or Samosa (deep-fried dumplings stuffed with spicy potatoes), Bhel Puri (puffed rice with vegetables), Dahi Puri (small deep-fried flatbreads with yogurt), Panipuri (literally "water in deep-fried bread"), Papdi Chaat (crispy, paper-thin crackers), and Dahi Vada (deep-fried lentil balls). 


All of these varieties have common elements, including dahi (yogurt), chopped onions and cilantro, sev (thin dried yellow salty noodles), and Chaat Masala, which typically consists of Amchur (dried mango powder), Cumin, Kala Namak (black rock salt from the Himalayas), Coriander, dried Ginger, salt, black pepper, and Chili powder. The ingredients are combined and served on a small metal plate or dona.


The choices are vast, and all you have to do now is decide what to eat first.

bottom of page