Dahi Vada| Dahi Bhalla Chaat

I am a sucker for Dahi Vada. Irrespective of whether it is made the South Indian way or in the North Indian style, I love the dish to bits. Today, I am going to share with you all the way we make Dahi Vada at home.

Home-made Dahi Vada or Dahi Bhalla Chaat

What is Dahi Vada, exactly?

Lentils soaked and ground into a smooth batter, flavoured with chillies and ginger, then deep-fried and soaked in curd – that’s dahi vada for you. When made right, it’s a beauty of a dish. Crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, the fried lentil batter soaks in the flavours of the curd and the end result is absolutely delectable. I definitely can’t resist the lure! 🙂

There’s the South Indian version of dahi vada (called Thayir Vadai) where the curd is tempered with mustard and curry leaves, sometimes with a green chilli-coconut paste mixed in. The North Indian version is more like a chaat, with sweetened curd, topped with sweet and spicy chutneys, sev or boondi, and roasted cumin powder. The latter – also called Dahi Bhalla Chaat – often stars in Holi parties in North India. It is this North Indian version of dahi vada that we are going to talk about today. I will share the recipe for the South Indian thayir vadai shortly, too.

This recipe is completely vegetarian, but not vegan (plant-based) because of the use of curd. It is, however, completely gluten-free.

How to make Dahi Vada or Dahi Bhalla Chaat

The making of perfect Dahi Vada is not very difficult, but it might take some practice. I have listed out some techniques which have helped me achieve great results. Please read the entire post carefully before attempting to make the dish.

Here is how we make Dahi Vada or Dahi Bhalla Chaat.

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

For the vadas:

1. 1 cup whole white urad dal

2. 2 green chillies

3. A 1-inch piece of ginger

4. Salt to taste

5. 2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves (optional)

6. Oil for deep-frying the vadas

For the curd and assembling:

1. 500 ml fresh curd

2. 1/4 teaspoon black salt

3. Regular salt as needed, if required

4. 2 teaspoons powdered sugar or as needed

5. 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder or as needed

6. Sweet-sour tamarind chutney, as needed (see notes)

7. Spicy green mint-coriander chutney, as needed (see notes)

8. Sev/boondi, as needed

9. About 2 tablespoons grated carrot

10. About 2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander

11. Roasted cumin powder, as required

Method:

Top left, centre and right: Steps 1, 2 and 3, Bottom left: Step 4, Bottom centre: What the consistency of the batter looks like, Bottom right: Well ground batter floating in a glass of water

1. Wash the urad dal a couple of times under running water, draining it out each time. When the water runs clear, add in enough fresh water. Soak the urad for about 2 hours, then place in the refrigerator and soak for another 2 hours.

2. When the urad dal is done soaking, drain out the cold water from it and reserve.

3. Transfer the cold dal to a mixer jar. Chop up the green chillies roughly and add to the mixer jar. Peel the ginger, chop roughly and add to the mixer jar too.

4. Adding a little of the cold reserved water at a time, grind the ingredients in the mixer jar to a smooth batter. Do not add more than 7-8 tablespoons of water; use only as much water as is strictly necessary. Drop a blob of the batter in a glass of water – if it floats on the water, it is light and airy and ready; if it sinks to the bottom, you need to grind it further.

Top left, centre and right: Steps 6, 7 and 8, Bottom left: Step 9, Bottom centre and right: Preparing the dahi vada for serving

5. Take the oil for deep-frying in a heavy-bottomed pan. Place on high flame. Let the oil get nice and hot.

6. In the meantime, transfer the ground batter to a large mixing bowl. Chop up the curry leaves roughly (if using) and add them in. Add salt to taste. Mix the batter using your hands in a circular motion, in a single direction only, for 2-3 minutes. This incorporates air into the batter so the vadas turn out soft on the inside. Now, the batter is ready to make the vadas.

7. When the oil is hot, drop a few small balls of the batter into it and turn the flame down to medium. Fry on medium flame till the vadas turn crispy and brown on the outside.

8. Simultaneously, prepare the curd mixture. Take the curd in a large mixing bowl. If the curd is too thick, add some water to adjust the consistency. Add in the black salt, regular salt (if using), red chilli powder and powdered sugar. Mix well and keep this ready.

9. When the first batch of vadas are fried, drop them into the curd mixture immediately. Keep them soaking while you fry the rest of the batter in batches. Keep dropping the vadas in the curd mixture as and when they get ready. Do not crowd the mixing bowl – make sure all the vadas are soaking in the curd equally.

10. Start serving the dahi vadas once each batch is done soaking for a bit. Leaving them in for more than 15 minutes will cause all the curd to get absorbed. To serve, take a few of the soaked dahi vadas in a plate along with some of the curd mixture. Drizzle some sweet-sour tamarind chutney and spicy green mint chutney on top. Add some sev or boondi over this, and garnish with finely chopped coriander and grated carrot. Sprinkle some roasted cumin powder over this. Serve immediately.

11. Prepare and serve all the dahi vadas in a similar manner.

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used home-made sweet-sour tamarind chutney here. Here’s how I make this chutney.

2. I make the spicy green chutney at home too. Here’s the proceedure I follow for this.

3. Some people use a mix of moong dal and urad dal to make dahi vada. We use only urad dal. If you want to, use 1/4 cup moong dal and 3/4 cup urad dal.

4. Adjust the number of green chillies you use, depending upon how spicy you want the vadas to be.

5. You may soak 2 tablespoons of raw rice along with the urad dal, and grind them together. This yields crispier vadas. I do that when I’m making Medu Vada (vadas with a hole, to be had with sambar and/or chutney, but skip the rice in case of dahi vadas).

6. For dahi vada, urad dal needs soaking for at least 4 hours. A tried and tested tip is to place the urad dal + water in the refrigerator after 2 hours. Let it soak in the refrigerator for the rest of the time. The cold lentils stop the mixer from getting heated up while grinding, which translates into fluffier vadas.

7. Do not add too much water while grinding the urad dal. Add a few tablespoons of the cold water reserved from soaking the lentils, if required.

8. The batter should be ground fine and thick – as stated above, when you put a blob of the batter in a cup of water, it should float. This suggests that the batter is well ground and fluffy, and that the vadas will turn out nice and airy. If the batter sinks to the bottom, it suggests that you need to grind some more.

9. Don’t forget to mix the batter with your hand for a few seconds, after grinding. Move your hand in a circular motion in one direction only. This aerates the batter and yields light and fluffy vadas.

10. If the batter becomes too runny, you can add some rice flour to make it thicker. However, do not use too much rice flour as this can alter the taste of the vadas.

11. Use fresh curd that is not sour, for best results.

12. It is important to fry the vadas on a medium flame to ensure that they are evenly cooked. Frying them on a high flame might cause them to get brown on the outside but stay raw inside. Make sure the oil is nice and hot before you start frying.

13. Some people drop the fried vadas into water, then squeeze them and add to the curd. We don’t do this as we don’t like dahi vada made that way.

14. We don’t usually make vadas with holes, while preparing dahi vada. We just drop blobs of batter into hot oil and fry. If you want, you can form holes in the vadas, as in case of Medu Vada.

15. Whole white urad dal, also called gota urad, gives the best dahi vada. I have tried this with whole and broken black urad (with skin) as well as broken white urad dal.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Thandai Powder Recipe| Home-Made Thandai

Home-made thandai, anyone? Let’s see, today, how to make delectable thandai at home, from scratch! Try it out this Holi and enjoy! 🙂

What is Thandai?

Thandai, also called Sardai, is a Holi essential in North India. For the uninitiated, thandai refers to an Indian drink that is mostly served chilled, especially during the festivals of Shivratri and Holi. I’m not sure about the origin of the drink’s name – maybe it comes from the fact that it is served cold and is utterly refreshing (‘thand‘ = ‘cold’ in Hindi).

Delicious home-made thandai

Thandai is made using milk and assorted ingredients like cashewnuts, almonds, melon seeds, sugar, saffron and poppy seeds. It is absolutely delicious when made right – totally understandable why it has legions of fans!

There are a few versions of thandai. Rose- and mango-flavoured ones are quite common these days. Then there’s the one infused with bhaang (cannabis), the alcoholic version. The traditional kesar-badam version, a non-alcoholic one with saffron and almonds, is what we are going to see today.

Home-made thandai using powder

Ready-to-use thandai concentrate is easily available in stores these days, making it rather convenient to whip up glasses of the drink whenever you please. However, more often than not, these concentrates come with a lot of chemical additives and preservatives. It is not very difficult to make good thandai at home, using all-natural ingredients.

Now, thandai can be made in two ways – using a wet freshly ground paste or a dry powder. The paste has to be used immediately while the powder, once prepared, can be stored for about a month. The latter is a more convenient way of making thandai, without losing any of the deliciousness! In today’s post, I am going to be sharing the thandai powder recipe that I learnt from a friend years ago, and show you how to use it to make home-made thandai.

Thandai powder recipe

Here’s how to make it.

Ingredients (makes about 1-1/2 cups of thandai powder):

1. 1/3 cup almonds

2. 1/3 cup cashewnuts

3. 1/3 cup sugar

4. 20 green cardamom (hari elaichi)

5. 2 tablespoons watermelon seeds

6. 2 tablespoons poppy seeds (khuskhus)

7. 2 tablespoons dried rose petals

8. 2 tablespoons fennel seeds (saunf)

9. 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

10. 1/4 teaspoon saffron strands

Other ingredients (makes 2 tall glasses of thandai):

1. 500 ml full-fat milk

2. A fat pinch of saffron (optional)

3. About 4 teaspoons sugar or as needed (optional)

Method:

1. We will first make the thandai powder. For this, measure all the ingredients listed for the powder, above. Take them in a mixer jar. Pulse a few times, then stop to mix up the ingredients. Continue to do so till you get a powder that is almost fine, just slightly coarse.

2. Store the prepared thandai powder in a clean, dry, air-tight bottle and use as required.

Top left and centre: Steps 1 and 2, Top right: Step 3, Below top right, bottom right and centre: Step 4, Bottom left: Step 5

3. To make 2 tall glasses of thandai, take the milk in a vessel and place on high flame. Allow the milk to come to a boil.

4. At this stage, reduce the flame to the lowest possible. Add in 4-5 tablespoons of the thandai powder we prepared earlier, or as much as required. Also add in the saffron strands and sugar, if using. Mix well.

5. Cook the milk on low-medium flame for 4-5 minutes, then switch off gas. The milk would have thickened up by this time and gotten a light yellow colour. Your thandai is ready.

6. Allow the thandai milk to cool down completely, then place it in the refrigerator. Chill for at least a couple of hours. Serve cold.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use full-fat milk for best results. I have used Akshayakalpa milk here.

2. Some people add more whole spices like nutmeg and cinnamon in the thandai powder. I don’t as I rather prefer it made the above way.

3. You may adjust the quantities of the ingredients used in making the thandai powder. The above quantities work perfectly for us.

4. To make the thandai vegan, you may use non-dairy milk like almond or soya. An alternative sweetener can also be used in place of the refined sugar I have used here. However, for that authentic taste, I prefer using dairy milk and refined sugar.

5. The colour of your thandai will depend upon the quantity of ingredients used in making the powder. I add a little saffron while preparing the thandai to give it a nice, light yellow colour. However, this can be skipped if you don’t want to use it.

6. If you want to keep the thandai mildly sweet, skip adding extra sugar while adding the powder to the milk. We prefer it with the extra sugar added.

7. You may dry roast the almonds, cashewnuts, peppercorns and watermelon seeds before powdering them. It is not strictly necessary, though. I do away with the roasting.

8. The thandai powder stays well for about a month when stored in a clean, dry, air-tight bottle. Use only a clean, dry spoon for the powder. Refrigeration will further increase the shelf life of the powder.

9. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or char magaz seeds can be used in place of the watermelon seeds I have used here. You may use a mixture of seeds of your choice, too.

10. I have used store-bought dried rose petals here. You can make your own at home, too. If you don’t have dried rose petals, skip them while making the powder and use some rose syrup while preparing the milk. You can use gulkand while preparing the thandai, in which case you would need to cut down on the sugar.

11. Some people strain the milk after chilling it, before serving. You may do so if you want to. I don’t.

12. Pistachios can be added to the thandai mix, if you prefer. I didn’t have any, so I skipped them.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Chocolate Ganache Tart| No-Bake Chocolate Tart

This Chocolate Ganache Tart is just the perfect thing to make if you and your loved ones adore chocolate, like me. 😊 It tastes fabulous and is super easy to put together – this is a freezer tart that does not require any baking. Even a beginner cook can ace this, and I’m not kidding!

Psst – Looking for last-minute ideas to surprise your Valentine? Try out this tart! The beautiful strawberries available this time of the year make for just the right decoration, too.

A delectable Chocolate Ganache Tart, decorated with strawberry slivers

What goes into this Chocolate Ganache Tart

The base of this tart is made using mildly sweet cookies, like Marie or digestive biscuits.

The filling is chocolate ganache, made with fresh cream and chocolate. I have used a mix of dark and milk chocolate here, because that’s the way my family prefers it.

Lastly, there’s the decoration for the tart. I prefer using fresh strawberries when they are in season or, else, toasted cashewnuts. I have written about both styles in the proceedure below.

Some other interesting chocolate recipes

I have a few other easy but interesting chocolate recipes on my blog, which you might want to look at. Check out these Fruit & Nut Chocolate Bites, Dark Chocolate Truffles, Easy Hot Cocoa, Chocolate Orange Hung Curd Cheesecake and Mexican Chilli Chocolate Ice Cream.

Also, do check out this Chocolate & Cheese Sandwiches by my fellow food blogger, Poonam. They look so delicious and inviting!

How to make Chocolate Ganache Tart

Here is how to go about making the tart.

Ingredients:

For the base:

1. 180 grams biscuits, mildly sweet

2. 1/2 tablespoon sugar

3. About 60 grams unsalted butter or as needed

For the chocolate ganache:

1. 80 grams dark chocolate

2. 100 grams milk chocolate

3. 250 ml cream

For the decoration:

3-4 large strawberries OR 12-15 cashewnuts, dry roasted

Method:

We will start by making the base for the tart.

Top left, centre and right: Step 1, Centre left and centre: Step 2, Bottom right: Step 3, Bottom centre and left: Steps 4 and 5

1. Break the biscuits roughly, using your hands. Transfer them to a mixer jar. Add the sugar into the mixer jar too. Grind together into a fine powder.

2. Transfer the biscuit powder into a large mixing bowl. Add in the butter. Mix well using your hands, till you get the texture of wet sand. You may add in more butter if required.

3. Grease an 8×3 inch round vessel or cake tin with some batter. Keep ready.

4. Spread the biscuit powder-butter mixture evenly all over the bottom of the greased vessel. Spread some a little along the sides too. Pack it in tightly, leaving no spaces in between.

5. Once done, cover the vessel or cake tin and place it in the freezer till the rest of the ingredients get ready. This will give the tart base time to set and harden.

While the base is setting, we will prepare the chocolate ganache filling.

Top left, centre and right: Steps 6, 7 and 8, Centre left: Step 9, Centre row, middle and right: Step 10 and 11, Bottom left: The Chocolate Ganache Tart has set and is ready, Bottom right: The tart, decorated with strawberry slices

6. Using a sharp knife, chop the dark and milk chocolate into small pieces. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

7. Take the cream in a heavy-bottomed pan and place on medium flame. Let the pan heat up and allow the cream to come to a boil. Stir intermittently. Switch off gas when the cream has been boiling for a few seconds.

8. Immediately transfer the boiling hot cream into the bowl with the chocolate pieces. Mix well. The chocolate will melt in the heat of the cream and form a smooth mixture. Make sure all the cream and chocolate is well integrated together. This is the chocolate ganache filling.

9. Whisk the chocolate ganache gently for about a minute to make it silky-smooth, light and airy.

Next, we will prepare the tart and set it.

10. Get the chilled tart base out of the freezer. Pour the hot chocolate ganache into the tart base immediately. If you are using dry-roasted cashewnuts for cashewnuts for decoration, chop them up roughly and sprinkle evenly all over the chocolate ganache. Now, allow the ganache to come to room temperature.

11. When the chocolate ganache has come to room temperature, close the vessel or cake tin. Place in the freezer for at least 2-3 hours for the ganache to set. Now, the Chocolate Ganache Tart is ready to cut into pieces and serve. If using strawberries for the decoration, chop them into thin slices and arrange on the tart just before cutting and serving.

A piece of Chocolate Ganache Tart, decorated with toasted cashewnuts

Tips & Tricks

1. For best results, use good-quality chocolate. The ratio of dark and milk chocolate is completely up to your preferences. I have used 80 grams of Bournville 70% dark chocolate and 100 grams of Amul India Twilight milk chocolate here. You may use only 180 grams of dark or milk chocolate if you so prefer, instead of mixing the two.

2. I have used 250 ml Amul fresh cream here. Make sure you heat the cream only on medium flame. Do not overcook it. Once the cream comes to a rolling boil, pour it into the chocolate pieces.

3. Any type of biscuits with mild sweetness will work for the tart base. I have used Marie biscuits here. Adjust the quantity of sugar you use in the base as per personal taste preferences. You may skip the sugar entirely, if you so prefer.

4. I have used Amul unsalted butter here. Some people use salted butter in the tart base and that’s also fine. Make sure the butter is at room temperature for it to mix well with the biscuit powder.

5. Using less butter will make the tart base crumbly and stop it from setting well. Using more butter will cause it to harden up. You need to use just enough butter to bring the biscuit crumbs to the consistency of wet sand.

6. Do remember to pack the biscuit powder and butter mixture tightly all over the base of the greased vessel and a little around the edges. This will help it set well.

7. You may use a cake tin for making this Chocolate Ganache Tart. I have used a regular stainless steel container here, which was 8 inches in width and 3 inches in height.

8. If you are using toasted cashewnuts for decoration, remember to add them before the chocolate ganache hardens. Otherwise, they will not stick to it at all. If using strawberries, add them just before serving the tart, because the fruit will become extremely cold in the freezer and make for an unpleasant eating experience.

9. Allow at least 2-3 hours for the Chocolate Ganache Tart to set. Remove it from the freezer about 1/2 hour before serving, as it starts to soften and become squishy if kept outside for too long.

10. Steps 7 to 10 need to be followed quickly, with deft hands, for best results.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Vegetable Pongal| Ven Pongal With Vegetables

The festival of Pongal is just a couple of days away. Today, let me share with you all a recipe that’s perfect for the occasion – Vegetable Pongal. This is a spin on the traditional savoury Ven Pongal recipe I had shared on the blog some time ago, and an absolutely delicious one at that.

Vegetable Pongal or Ven Pongal with vegetables

What goes into Vegetable Pongal

Like Ven Pongal, this dish is prepared using rice and moong dal. You can use any variety of rice you prefer – I usually go for Sona Masoori.

In addition to the usual ghee, black pepper, cumin, ginger, green chillies and cashewnuts that are used in making pongal, this one also includes vegetables. I usually stick to carrots, green peas and beans to make this Vegetable Pongal. The vegetables make the pongal all the more nutritious and flavourful.

How to make Vegetable Pongal or Ven Pongal with vegetables

Here is how to go about it.

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

1. 1 cup rice

2. 1/4 cup moong dal

3. About 3/4 cup mixed vegetables like carrot, green peas and beans

4. 2 tablespoons ghee

5. A 1-inch piece of ginger

6. 2 green chillies

7. A sprig of curry leaves

8. About 10 cashewnuts

9. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

10. 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

11. 2 pinches of asafoetida

12. Salt to taste

13. About 1/2 tablespoon coarsely crushed black pepper or to taste

Method:

Top left, centre and right: Steps 1, 2 and 3, Bottom left, centre and right: Steps 4, 5 and 6

1. Wash the rice and moong dal thoroughly, then drain out all the water.

2. Transfer the drained rice and moong dal to a wide vessel. Add in 4 cups of water. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 4 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. In the meantime, prep the vegetables. Keep the green peas ready. Peel the carrot and chop finely. Remove strings from the beans and chop finely.

4. Steam the vegetables using a steamer. Keep ready.

5. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep the curry leaves and cashewnuts handy. Peel the ginger and chop finely.

6. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked rice and moong dal out. Mash them lightly.

Top left and right: Steps 7 and 8, Below top right and bottom right: Step 9, Bottom left: Step 10

7. Heat the ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard, and allow them to sputter. Add in the cumin seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves, cashewnuts, ginger and slit green chillies. Reduce flame to medium. Saute on medium flame for a minute or so, browning the cashewnuts, taking care not to burn the ingredients.

8. Add in the cooked rice and moong dal. Add about 3/4 cup water or as needed to adjust the consistency of the pongal. Mix well. Continue to keep the flame at medium.

9. Add salt to taste, followed by the coarsely crushed black pepper and the steamed vegetables. Mix well.

10. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the mixture thickens up and comes together well. Switch off gas when the mixture is still on the runnier side – it will thicken up further on cooling. Your Vegetable Pongal is ready. Serve hot, drizzled with some ghee and raita of your choice.

Tips & Tricks

1. Vegetables like green peas, beans and carrot go well in this pongal. I would suggest sticking to similar veggies only.

2. Adjust the amount of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the pongal that you require.

3. Make sure the rice and moong dal are well cooked and soft before adding them to the pan.

4. Adjust the quantity of black pepper and green chillies depending upon the spice level you are comfortable with.

5. Do not skimp on the ghee. It adds a beautiful fragrance and flavour to the Vegetable Pongal.

6. Remember to keep the Vegetable Pongal runny. It thickens up quite a bit with time.

7. This is a completely vegetarian recipe, but not vegan (plant-based) due to the use of ghee.

8. To make this dish gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. Most Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour, so they are best avoided in case you are following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, you could definitely use it.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Mexican Chaat| Nachos Chaat

Nachos Chaat is a fusion of Indian and Mexican cuisine, and an extremely delicious one at that.  I am a huge chaat fan, as you all probably already know, and love converting anything and everything into chaat. 😊 My latest was this one, made using nachos and assorted Indian and Mexican ingredients. It was a big hit with the extended family.

This Nachos Chaat (you could call it Mexican Chaat, too) is simple to put together. The ingredients can be prepped in advance and the chaat assembled just before serving, which makes it perfect for holiday parties and other get-togethers. Do try it out!

You might also want to check out the other Mexican recipes on my blog – Easy Cheesy Nachos| Loaded Veggie Burrito| Elotes or Mexican Street-Style Corn| Indian-Style Vegetable Quesadilla| Mexican Chilli Chocolate Ice Cream| Frijoles Charros or Mexican Bean Soup


What goes into this Mexican Chaat

Nachos forms the base of this chaat.

Cooked rajma beans, sweet corn kernels, onion, capsicum, slices of black olives and sour cream also go into this chaat – elements that are quintessentially used in many Mexican dishes.

The Indian touch is provided by chopped cucumber and coriander, fine sev (which is also called ‘nylon sev‘ or ‘zero number sev’), roasted cumin powder, black salt, as well as the sweet and spicy chutneys that are commonly used in chaats.

Check the ‘Tips and Tricks’ section of this post for details on the various ingredients used here.

How to make Mexican Chaat

Here is how I made it.

Ingredients (serves 2):

1. 150 grams nachos

2. 1/4 cup dried rajma beans

3. 1/4 cup sweet corn kernels

4. 1 small onion

5. 1/2 of a medium-sized capsicum

6. 1/2 of a medium-sized cucumber

7. 2 tablespoons pitted and sliced black olives

8. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

9. Sour cream, as needed

10. Spicy green chutney, as needed

11. Sweet-sour tamarind chutney, as needed

12. Fine sev, as needed

13. Roasted cumin powder, as needed

14. Black salt, as needed

Method:

Bottom left: Step 1, Top right: Step 2, Top left: Step 3, Bottom right: Step 4 and 5

1. Soak the dried rajma beans in enough water for 8-10 hours or overnight. When they are done soaking, drain out all the water from them.

2. Transfer the soaked and drained rajma beans to a wide vessel. Add in enough fresh water to cover the beans completely. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 5-6 whistles or till the beans are thoroughly cooked but not overly mushy. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. In the meantime, steam the sweet corn kernels till done. Transfer to a plate and allow them to cool down completely.

4. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked rajma beans out. Drain out the water from them and reserve for future use. Transfer the cooked rajma beans to a plate and allow them to cool down completely.

5. Chop the cucumber, capsicum and onion finely. Assemble the rest of the ingredients and keep them ready.

6. Once the cooked ingredients have completely cooled down, we will begin assembling the Mexican Chaat. Arrange the nachos on a large platter. Spread out the cooked rajma beans, sweet corn, onion, capsicum, cucumber and sliced olives evenly over the nachos. Place dollops of the sour cream evenly over this, then drizzle the sweet-sour tamarind chutney and the spicy green chutney. Spread the fine sev evenly on top of this, then sprinkle some roasted cumin powder and black salt. Your Mexican Chaat platter is now ready to serve. Serve immediately.

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used store-bought nachos here, but you may make your own at home if you so prefer. I have used Tikka Masala-flavoured nachos from Cornitos, here.

2. Make sure all the cooked ingredients have cooled down to room temperature before beginning to assemble the chaat.

3. Make sure the rajma beans are well cooked. They should not be overly mushy. Different types of rajma beans take different times to cook through. Here, I have used Kashmiri rajma.

4. I have used sour cream from Amul here. The fine sev is store-bought, from a brand called Garden.

5. The Tikka Masala nachos I used were salty, so I did not use any salt in the toppings. If required, add some salt to the chaat toppings you are using.

6. I have used a vegetable steamer to steam the sweet corn kernels. You can even cook them in boiling water or in a pressure cooker.

7. Do not discard the water used in cooking the rajma beans as it is filled with nutrients. It can be used in gravy-based curries, soups, etc.

8. I have used home-made sweet-sour tamarind chutney and spicy green chutney.

9. Serve this Mexican Chaat immediately after assembling it. Not doing so might make the nachos soggy.

10. Adjust the quantity of sev, sweet chutney, sour cream, spicy green chutney, roasted cumin powder and black salt as per personal taste preferences.

11. If you are preparing the Mexican Chaat for a party or get-together, you can prep the ingredients in advance and keep them ready, then assemble the dish just before serving.

12. To make the roasted cumin powder – dry roast a couple of tablespoons of cumin in a pan, on medium flame, till it becomes nice and fragrant. Take care to ensure that it does not burn. Allow the roasted cumin to cool down completely, then grind to a coarse powder. I make small quantities of this powder, store in a dry and air-tight bottle, and use as needed.

13. Black salt aka kala namak gives a unique flavour and fragrance to chaats, and I highly recommend not skipping it.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!