Samosa Chaat

Samosa Chaat3

Just the mention of the word “Chaat” makes my mouth water. Chaat is a word used for many of India’s favorite street foods like bhel puri and paani puri. The last time I was in India I saw a street cart with the sign, “paani puri made with mineral water.” It was nice to see that local vendors are making efforts to make chaat safe for foreigners, or locals-living-abroad, such as myself.

When I was a young girl, during my summer holidays, several schoolmates and I used to go to the Pune Cantonment swimming pool. Right after our swimming session we would stop by the street carts for our fix of samosa chaat, bhel puri, and paani puri. What fun we had! I wonder if anyone of them remembers those days.

On one of our vacations to India my children and I stopped in Mumbai. We went to a restaurant called Status. We heard they were famous for their samosa chaat. We were hungry after a whole morning of shopping. The three of us were ravenous and we ordered a whole bunch of dishes. My son ordered two plates of samosa chaat and the waiter told him that would be too much for the three of us. That one plate along with all the rest of the food that we had ordered would definitely be enough. But my son insisted on two plates. When our food came, we could hardly finish the first plate of samosa chaat. The samosas were humongous! That was a meal in itself. In the background we could hear the waiters whispering to each other with smiles on their faces.

Making samosa chaat at home is a time consuming job, but totally worth it. My friends and family have great fun assembling their own plates of samosa chaat. I made my own samosas but you can buy yours from an Indian store or restaurant. However, it is well worth making the chole, cilantro and mint chutney, and the date and tamarind chutney from scratch as homemade tastes best. So, here is my take on the famous samosa chaat.

If you plan to use dry chickpeas/garbanzo/Kabuli channa follow the Chole recipe from my previous recipe.

Chole – using canned garbanzo beans
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Serves: 6

For the spice mix

3 tablespoons coriander seeds
4 black cardamoms, peel and use seeds
5 cloves
1-inch piece cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon whole black pepper
1 bay leaf, (tejpatta)
4 whole dry red chillies, (depending on heat and your preference)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds, (anardana)

In a small pan, over low heat, roast the above mentioned ingredients until they smell fragrant and turn a very dark brown. Cool completely and then grind to a powder in a coffee grinder. Set aside.

For the Chole
3 tablespoons oil
2 cups finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped green chillies, (optional)
1 cup diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons Kashmiri chilli powder
2 15.5 oz cans of garbanzo beans
3 cups water

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, over medium-high heat, add oil. When the oil begins to shimmer add the onions. When they turn translucent add the ginger and fry for a minute. Add the green chillies and tomatoes. Keep stirring until the tomatoes are well cooked you see the oil separating from the tomato-onion mixture. Add the spice mix, Kashmiri chilli powder, and salt. Fry for 30 seconds.

Add the garbanzo beans along with the liquid in the cans and three cups of water. If you like the chole gravy to be a little thick, use a potato masher to mash a small portion of the garbanzo beans. Bring to a simmer and cook for an additional 30 minutes over medium-low heat, so the flavors can meld. Stir occasionally to make sure that the gravy does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat. Serve on top of samosa chaat.

Date and Tamarind Chutney
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves: 6

2 teaspoons cumin seeds
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 cup dates, pitted and roughly chopped
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup tamarind extract
3 teaspoons red chilli powder
2 teaspoons ginger powder
3 cups water
2 teaspoons chaat masala
1½ teaspoons black salt

Add cumin and fennel seeds to a small non-stick pan. Roast over low heat until fragrant. Cool and grind to a powder.

Add cumin and fennel powder, chopped dates, brown sugar, tamarind pulp, chilli powder, ginger powder, chaat masala, salt and two cups of water to a small saucepan. Place the pan over medium-high heat. Stir and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and continue to cook for ten minutes. Cool completely. Add to a blender and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Serve with samosa chaat.

Cilantro and Mint Chutney
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Serves: 6

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
½ cup fresh mint leaves
3-4 green chillies, (depending on heat and your preference)
2 tablespoons water
1/4 tsp sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Roughly chop the cilantro, mint, and green chillies. Add to a blender and process until smooth. Use a tablespoon or two of water if necessary. Add black salt and sugar. Blend again and transfer to a bowl. Stir in lemon juice. Serve with samosa chaat

Plating and Garnishing

12 Samosas, (can be warmed up in an oven at 400 degrees F for 6-8 minutes)
2 cups plain yoghurt, whipped
2 cups fine sev, (can be bought from Indian grocery store)
1 cup finely diced onion
1 cup finely diced tomato
2 tablespoons finely chopped green chillies, (optional)
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons roasted and powdered cumin seeds
2 teaspoons chaat masala
2 teaspoons chilli powder

Samosa Chaat4

Break two samosas into four or five large chunks and put them on a plate. Pour a large spoonful of chole over them. Scatter a heaped teaspoon of chopped onion and tomato. Add a few bits of green chillies, if you like your chaat to be spicy. Sprinkle with a pinch of cumin, chilli and chaat masala powders. Drizzle a tablespoon of yoghurt, tamarind and date chutney, and cilantro and mint chutney over them. Finally top them off with sev and bits of chopped cilantro. There you have it – one of Indian’s favorite street foods!

Minced Chicken Puffs

Minced Chicken and Egg Puffs

Two lovely young ladies have asked me to share a recipe for puffs, so this blog post is especially for them. Chicken puffs, eggs puffs, and vegetable puffs bring back memories of bakery shops in India. The lovely aroma that came from these shops, as you passed by, was magnetic.

Egg puffs were a popular item in a bakery in Manipal and my children and I would pick some up every Friday afternoon. It was in Manipal where I learned how to make puff pastry from scratch. My teacher was a young lady from Malaysia. Making puff pastry is a tedious process and since puff pastry sheets are available in the frozen section of our grocery stores in the U.S., I’ve used them to save time. This recipe will give you the basics on how to make puffs but use your imagination to make the filling your own. Enjoy.

Minced Chicken Puffs
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Serves: 6

1 pkg. (17.3-ounces) Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoon finely chopped green chillies, (depending on heat and your preference)
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
¼ cup finely chopped tomato
3 teaspoons Shakti meat masala powder, (or any other meat masala powder)
1 pound minced chicken
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

Thaw the pastry sheets at room temperature for 40 minutes or use the directions on the package. Heat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease or line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Stir the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork.

Heat oil in a small non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds and when they sputter add cumin seeds, onion, and salt. Cook onions until they turn translucent. Then add the ginger, garlic, green chillies, and cilantro. Cook for three minutes or until the raw smell of the garlic disappears. Add tomato and the meat masala powder. Let the tomato cook until the oil separates. Turn the heat to low and add minced chicken. Break up the chicken with your wooden spoon, so there are no lumps. Then turn the heat to medium. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. Stir to dry out any water that may remain. Remove from heat and cool completely.

To assemble the puffs:
Unfold one pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface.
Cut the pastry sheet into three strips along the fold marks. Gently roll each strip to make it slightly wider.
Cut each strip in half crosswise, making six pastry rectangles.
Place the pastry rectangles onto the baking sheet.
Put one heaped teaspoon of the chicken filling onto each pastry rectangle.
Brush the edges of the pastry rectangles with a little egg mixture or water.
Fold the pastries in half over the filling to form small rectangles.
Brush the filled puffs with the egg mixture.
Put the tray in the freezer.
Repeat this process with the second puff pastry sheet.
Bake the puffs for 20-25 minutes or until they are golden brown. Let the puffs cool on the baking sheets on wire racks for 10 minutes. Serve with ketchup or cilantro and mint chutney.

Please note:
There are two pastry sheets in one package. If you do not want to use the second pastry sheet, you can wrap it in parchment paper, put it in a ziplock bag, and freeze it. Or, you can fill the puffs and freeze them individually wrapped in parchment paper. Bake them at 400°F for 30-35 minutes straight from the freezer. No thawing required.