We have heard of using tomatoes in salads, in pasta, in curries, in sauces, in various other dishes. But how about tomatoes being used in Chaat? (For my Westerner friends, “Chaat”, according to Wikipedia, means savory snacks typically served at road-side tracks from stalls or food carts in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. The word “Chaat” originates from the same word in Hindi, which means “to lick”. Or to slurp. Because Chaats are just so yummy!)
Well, we were talking about tomatoes being used in Chaat. Well, I had never imagined such an innovation was possible. Till I had my first brush with this divine dish in the temple town of Varanasi, a few months after my wedding, when I had gone to visit my in-laws. At first I was a little apprehensive, because I have never been too fond of too many tomatoes cooked together. So much so, that when Hubby brought a spoonful of Tamatar ki Chaat to my lips, I opened my mouth very reluctantly (Only to please him, you know! We’d just got married!). But as soon as the first flavors filled my mouth, I was lost… The tanginess, the sweetness, the spices, the rich, creamy taste, it was all too overwhelming for my tastebuds!
The fling that started over three years back has now culminated into a full-blown love affair. I mean, I can confidently say that Tamatar ki Chaat, or Tamatar/Tamatari, as it is known in different areas, now tops my list of Chaats (after Puchka/Gol Gappe/Pani Puri, of course. But we’ll come to that later!) I had been thinking of this chaat and drooling over it for a long time, but since a visit to Varanasi did not seem to be happening anytime soon, I decided to make it at home. And I’d call it an accomplishment that I got quite close to the original taste in the very first attempt! Well, Chaat from street sides has a distinct taste after all that cannot be recreated 100% at home! But this is the closest you can get to the authentic Banarasi recipe, replicated the way I saw the Chaat-wallah prepare it. Here’s how you can make it:
3 large ripe tomatoes (finely chopped)
2 medium potatoes (boiled and peeled)
1 large onion (chopped finely)
2 teaspoons ginger (grated)
1 green chili (minced)
1 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves (chopped)
2 tablespoons chopped cashew nuts
2 tablespoons chopped raisins
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
2+1 teaspoons roasted cumin powder
2+1 teaspoons roasted coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1+1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon rock/black salt
1/2 + 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon chaat masala
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt (to taste)
100 grams clarified butter (or unsalted butter)
Mash the potato and add salt, 1 teaspoon grated ginger, 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder, 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder, 1 teaspoon roasted coriander powder and 1 teaspoon red chili powder. Mix well and shape into a large ball. Flatten the ball on your palm. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in an iron frying pan or griddle. (You can use a non-stick pan, too. The iron is just to get a typical Chaat taste!) Cook the flattened potato tikki till the sides are crisp and brown. Remove from the pan on to a plate.
Now add the remaining clarified butter, reserving one tablespoon, in the same pan, and add asafoetida and cumin seeds. When they start spluttering, add the chopped onion and stir well. Now add the remaining grated ginger and minced green chili. When the onion becomes translucent, add a little water and mash it roughly using a potato masher.
Now add the chopped tomatoes, and cook on low heat, stirring frequently, till the tomatoes become tender. Mash the tomatoes using potato masher till you obtain a pulp.
Now add salt, rock/black salt, sugar, black pepper, the remaining cumin and coriander powders, 1 tsp red chili powder and 1/2 tsp garam masala powder and mix well.
Add the prepared potato tikki and mash again till the potato mixes well with the tomatoes. Add chopped coriander leaves and mix well.
In another pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon clarified butter and fry the nuts till they are light golden in colour. Transfer this to the tomato-potato pulp and mash one final time, mixing well. By now, the aroma should leave you drooling! 😉
Add a dash of lemon juice and a sprinkle of chaat masala for some added tanginess.
Transfer to serving dish and serve steaming hot. Gobble up fast, because this Chaat loses its taste as it cools.
You can garnish Tamatar ki Chaat with crushed Namakpare, or serve it plain, without any topping. You will love it any which way you eat it!
Eat, drink and be merry! 🙂
NOTE: This Chaat is not for people who don’t enjoy eating rich, calorie-laden food. But since this year is going past us, a one-time indulgence won’t hurt! 😉 Try making this Chaat, just to know what a delightful dish this is!