Chaat is a very popular dish sold on the streets of India. There are many variations of chaat; some dishes use chick peas, yogurt and/or rice puffs. Delhi has a unique chaat culture. Given that it is subject to colder climates, one can often expect to find street vendors squatting on the floor while frying potatoes over make ‘shift fryers’ or gargantuan-sized skillets. These crispy and tangy savory snacks are served in bowls made of banana leaves and served with a small wooden fork. Today, Chef Hemant Mathur shares his recipe for ‘3 root vegetable chaat’ with a twist.
Three Roots Chaat Recipe
Recipe courtesy of Chef Hemant Mathur of Tulsi
Serves 8 to 10 as an appetizer
2 medium (about 1 pound) sweet potatoes
1 large (about 1 pound) cassava
1 medium (about 1/2 pound) Idaho potato, boiled and diced
4 cups canola oil
Kosher salt to taste
Toasted cumin powder to taste
3 tablespoons Tomatillo Sauce (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons Tamarind Chutney (recipe follows)
- Preheat the oven to 450Â°F. Bake the sweet potatoes and cassava until they open slightly and the flesh gives to slight pressure, about 1 hour. Cool completely, and then peel and cut into small cubes (the same size as the diced Idaho potatoes). Reserve the three types of root vegetables in three separate bowls. Lower the oven to 250Â°F.
- Heat the canola oil in a large pot until it reads between 325Â°F and 350Â°F on a thermometer. Working with one type of root vegetable at a time, place into the hot oil and fry, carefully stirring and turning the potatoes with a slotted spoon, until they are blistered and browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside, or keep them warm on another baking sheet in the hot oven. Allow the oil to return to 325Â°F to 350Â°F before frying the each batch.
- When all the root vegetables are fried, transfer them to a bowl and toss with a few pinches of kosher salt and toasted cumin powder, the tomatillo sauce and tamarind chutney. Taste and adjust with additional spices or chutney. Serve immediately.
Tomatillo Sauce Recipe
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
6 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1/4 cup olive oil
6 garlic cloves
3 green chilis, washed and stemmed
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt to taste
- Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the tomatillos and boil over high heat till they turn a shade lighter and the inside is cooked (test with a knife), 6 to 7 minutes.Â Transfer the tomatoes with a slotted spoon into an ice bath. Once cool, strain all the water and add the tomatoes to a blender and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat and add the garlic and green chilis. Turn the heat to low and cook till the garlic and chilis are golden brown. Transfer to a blender, add the sugar and salt to taste. Puree and adjust salt if needed. Let cool and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Tamarind Chutney Recipe
Makes about 2 1/2 cups
4â‚¬Âounce piece of tamarind from a pliable block
4 dates, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
A pinch of asafetida
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- Place the tamarind in a bowl, cover with 4 cups of hot water and let soak overnight. The next day: wearing a pair of food-safe gloves, mash the tamarind well by hand to separate the seeds and pulp.
- Place the mashed mixture, along with any remaining liquid, in a pot. Add another 4 cups of water, the dates, ginger powder and red chili powder. Boil everything till half the mixture remains, about 30 minutes.
- Strain the mixture and transfer to a clean pot. Mash the pulp using the back of a spoon, add the sugar, and continue to cook the tamarind over medium heat.
- Meanwhile, in a small saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the asafetida, give it a quick stir, and immediately add cumin seeds and fennel seeds. Cook till the seeds start crackling and turn a light golden color. Immediately pour the Spices into the boiling tamarind mixture.
- Cook for another 10 minutes, stirring the chutney constantly. Add salt to taste and cool. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.
Photo: Chef Hemant Mathur
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