Aloo chaat is a pretty much the Indian equivalent of chips (or french fries if you're American). It is a very easy dish to make and can be used for all sorts of things; as a starter, a side dish, a snack or a tasty supper.
It is just one of many chaat dishes which are served in street markets all over Northern India. Chaat (from the Hindi chaatna which is all about licking one's fingers clean) should be sweet, sour and spicy and aloo chaat is the about the simplest but is really tasty, substantial and moreish.
The dish is basically deep fried potatoes mixed with spices and chutneys, but there are loads of optional ingredients and I think everybody in India probably has their own recipe, I don't think I've ever made it the same twice.
Notes on Ingredients
Quantities. All the quantities here are pretty flexible - it's a bit like me telling you how much ketchup to put on your chips
Tamarind. You can buy tamarind paste or you can buy blocks of tamarind and make it yourself by pouring hot water over a little ball of tamarind, letting it soak for about 10 minutes and then mashing the pulp through a sieve.
Oil. Basic vegetable oil is ok for this.
Peel the potatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes and soak in water.
Roast the cumin seeds and grind to a fine powder.
Mix the tamarind paste with the brown sugar.
Heat the oil in a deep pan or a wok.
Put in the potato pieces and fry till golden.
Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl.
Sprinkle with chaat masala, chilli powder and ground cumin .
Mix in the tamarind and sugar, and the chutney.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves
Notes on Method
Aloo chaat is really is easy. The oil should be hot when you put the potatoes in but you may wish to turn it down a little to ensure the potatoes cook without burning the outside.
You may want to put kitchen paper in the bowl to absorb the excess oil - remove before adding the other ingredients.
This is the interesting bit. You can use different types of chutneys like mint chutney or apple. You can use different spices; coriander, garlic (either fresh or powder), ginger powder, amchoor are all things I have used in various combinations (but don't go putting them all in at once!)
You can garnish it with raw onions or slices if mango or peanuts (I have even seen bombay mix in one recipe though I haven't tried this yet)
If you want to make it 'healthier' then you can boil the potatoes instead of frying them.
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