Chaats From Around India That You Cannot Miss!

Chaats From Around India That You Cannot Miss!
Chaat is an integral part of Indian cuisine, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Why is India obsessed with chaat?

Roshni Subramanian
September 05 , 2019
17 Min Read

Ask any North Indian and they’ll pull out a list of at least 5 local chaatwallas that they swear by. Most cities in India (barring the southern part) have these landmark chaat houses that have become a bit of a cult. Well, most of it has to do with the fact that just the whiff of it transports you back to your youth. As food critic Vir Sanghvi says, “Chaat is always a childhood memory. It is the taste of growing up”. According to him, an individual’s chaat preferences are shaped by the city they grew up in. And we couldn’t agree more. Standing in a queue opposite the UPSC building for endless hours just to gobble down golgappas in a fraction of a second is surely a skill that most Delhites have totally mastered by now. 

Though most people associate chaats with the national capital, the ‘tradition’ of chaat has transcended borders over the years. But it still hasn’t made it quite far down South. While the Mumbai v/s Delhi debate in terms of the best chaat places can probably instigate a civil war, we still haven’t found a definite answer to this age long discourse. 

There are several accounts on the origin of chaat. Some narratives suggest that during Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s rule there was a massive cholera breakout. The remedy put forth was to prepare extremely spicy food so as to kill the bacteria. Other historians suggest that the Mughal court's physician noted that the Yamuna river was highly contaminated and its consumption could cause serious illness. The only way to tackle the problem was to cook extremely spicy food in clarified butter. Culinary historians still haven't been able to verify the origins. While everyone has their own ‘ultimate’ chaat experience to share, we bring to you the most popular picks. 

Daulat Ki Chaat

 
 
 
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“If there’s paradise on Eart, it’s here.” Our sentiment towards Daulat Ki Chaat is exactly this. Winters in Delhi have always been magical, but top it up with Daulat ki Chaat and it's nothing less than heavenly. Available only during the months of November, December and January, this is a pure gem. A milky dessert with ounces of cream, ice, khoya, chhena and garnished with generous amounts of pistachios, the exact recipe of Daulat Ki Chaat is probably Purani Dilli’s most well guarded secrets. Head to Kinari Bazaar or Nai Sadak in Chandni Chowk to taste this delectable dessert.  

Papdi Chaat

 
 
 
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If there’s one thing that Delhites won’t compromise on, it’s their chaat. “Hell hath no fury like a deceived Dilliwalla”. The capital is immensely proud of the variety it offers in terms of chaat. One such offering is the very palatable papdi chaat. The crispy fried papdi covered in fresh yogurt and topped with coriander chutney, tamarind chutney, boiled and diced potatoes, ginger juliennes, dried pomegranate seeds and chickpeas, the tangy yet sweet flavour leaves you craving for more till the last bite. 

Read for the love of Aloo Chaat

Jhal Muri

 
 
 
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Our relationship with the City of Joy has lasted the test of time. What adds on to the real spirit of Kolkata is not the Victorian architecture or the literary and artistic influences but rather the ‘para’ culture and the sheer joy of indulging in ‘adda’. And an adda session without ‘cha muri’ is nothing but tragic. Jhal Muri is that one snack that has kept the city alive. Who’d have thought that rice puffs could be the source of immense happiness? The bylanes are filled with street hawkers selling this snack. Rice puffs tossed with onions, tomatoes, bits of coconut, peanuts, chanachur, tamarind pulp and a dash of mustard oil, its pungent taste and burst of flavours make it the perfect evening snack. 

Churmur

 
 
 
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Bongs seem to have figured out the perfect solution to leftovers. Especially if it’s puchka. Churmur is exactly what it sounds like. Crunchy, tangy and spicy. Crushed puchka with an assortment of spices, boiled potatoes, black grams, diced onions, tamarind pulp and a dash of salt and lemon. Every bite of it never fails to surprise you. So next time you’re in Kolkata, brace yourself for an explosion of flavours in your mouth. 

Puchka

 
 
 
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We don’t know about you, but the long standing debate around Pani Puri v/s Gol Gappa v/s Puchka seems a bit redundant now. The winner hands down is Puchka. As loyal admirers of puchka, we can say for sure that your stance on this ongoing discourse can make or break relationships. Ask any Kolkatan and they’ll know where their loyalties lie. For those who are unaware of the goodness of puchka, it’s typically filled with boiled and mashed potatoes, black salt, spices, lots of chillies and tetul jol (tamarind water). The joy of gulping down the spicy water with your eyes literally crying for mercy is an experience unparalleled. 

Ghugni

 
 
 
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Healthy snack? Sounds more like an oxymoron right? Well, ghugni is just what you are looking for when you’re on a diet. Ghugni is a meal in itself and a scrumptious one at that, mind you. Served in leaf bowls, ghugni is a mixture of dried yellow peas, soaked and boiled, lots of spices, green chillies and topped with fried bits of coconut. Best served with doodh cha, ghugni also doubles as a curry to go with Indian breads especially luchi (deep fried poori made of maida).

Palak Patta Chaat

 
 
 
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The only reason why desi kids in the 90’s and early 2000’s ate spinach was Popeye - beloved cartoon sailor with superhuman strength and a can of spinach always at his disposal. Thanks to Uttar Pradesh, as they’ve taken the mundane spinach or palak to a completely different tangent. With the  right blend of sweet, spicy, salty and tangy, palak patta chaat is the go to snack for days when you’re bound by a restrictive diet. 

Ragda Patties

 
 
 
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Mumbai is one city where you can probably just survive on street food. But the question that arises is despite having a plethora of chaat options why do Mumbaikars always turn to vada pav? Be it summer, monsoons and again summers, or as a tea time snack, vada pav seems to be a Mumbaikar’s answer to all questions. But as non-Mumbaikars, what bothers us is the constant presence of pav. Vada pav, usal pav, misal pav, pav bhaji, the list is endless. So naturally, when we stumbled upon ragda patties, we were taken aback for a second. While ragda refers to dried yellow peas soaked and boiled, patties is the Indian take on hash browns. Ragda patties comes close to the north Indian snack chole tikki. The chaat is topped with pomegranate, onions, yogurt and mint chutney. 

Misal Pav

 
 
 
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Be it as a perfect late night snack or as a breakfast meal, a Maharastrian’s love for his misal pav is unconditional. While only a true Maharastrian knows the distinction between Kolhapuri misal, Nashik Misal, and Puneri Misal, those who are yet to taste this spicy treat should head to Mumbai flat out. Misal is so much more than just a spicy curry. Garnished with sev, onions, coriander and lemon, misal pav is no wonder an all time favourite chaat of Mumbaikars.

Dabeli

 
 
 
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To be honest, Gujarat isn’t really the first place that comes to your mind when you talk about a thriving chaat scene. Sure, metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata offer more than enough chaat varieties to keep everyone satisfied but Gujarat seems to have kept itself quite afar from all this. It’s vibrant culture, picturesque landscape, generous hospitality and even Gujarati cuisine comrising of lip smacking snacks like dhokla, khandvi and fafda have been lauded time and again, but it’s the Kutchi dabeli that surprises tourists every time. Though not a typical chaat you can still find a dabeli stall at every nook and corner in Ahmedabad, Surat and Kutch. Not letting go of their love for pav, Dabeli is a pav cut half open and stuffed with spicy potato mixture, sweet and sour chutney and pomegranate. 


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