THEME: #247 IT’S CHAAT TIME
Summer time in India equates to not only mangoes but also Chaats and loads of it. This is the time when most kitchens are closed especially in the evenings and families venture out to sample lip smacking street food and chaats. However, this year I’m sure its a totally different scenario with everyone cooped up at home. However, that doesn’t mean that one cannot enjoy Chaats from the comforts of their homes.
Here in Kenya, we don’t get Chaats as street food, as it has its own street food specials like Mahamari, Fried Mogo, Kebabs, Chicken Tikka, Kachri Bateta, Viazi Karai, etc. If we want to enjoy some Chaats we either have to make them at home from scratch or we enjoy them at Indian Restaurants. I prefer to make most of the Chaats at home. Chaat theme for this group was suggested by Swaty who blogs at Food- Trails. We could prepare any chaat or any ingredient that is required to prepare chaats. For this theme I delved into my bookmarked recipes and decided to try out Ram Ladoo.
What is Chaat?
Before I go introduce you to the dish Ram Ladoo, its imperative that I share with you a bit more information as to what Chaat is. Sometimes also known as Chat, its not a conversation we have but a mixture of ingredients put together to make a lip smacking savoury snack. Usually served with chutneys and exciting toppings. You’ve got to check out some the chaats that I’ve listed below to understand why majority of the Indians, wherever they are in the world as so crazy about Chaats. It’s truly a burst of flavors in your mouth, tantalizing ever taste bud on your tongue. Sweet, salty, sour and bitter all rolled into one.
Some Chaats that you may want to check out:
- Veg Kebab Paratha – meat kebabs wrapped in salad and parathas are commonly served in Uttar Pradesh, but I’ve made a veggie version.
- One cannot miss tasting Vada Pav in Mumbai, its India’s answer to a burger. I love to make mini vada pav to serve as a starter for parties.
- Chinese Bhel is a version of the traditional bhel that I had the opportunity to taste in Mumbai. In my homemade version I’ve added sprouted bean sprouts too.
- Palak Pakodi Chaat, this is my dad’s favourite as its got the pakoda, the chutneys and yogurt too. For a bit of sourness I love to add passion fruit as a topping.
- Idli Chaat is another chaat I first tried at the Rama Krishna Restaurant in Vile Parle (E). I then made it for one of the pre wedding functions during my daughter’s wedding and everyone loved it.
- My all time favorite is Dahi Papdi Chaat. Crispy little flatbreads or puri served with boiled chickpeas, potatoes, chutneys, yogurt and sev.
- Dabeli is a famous chaat that originates from the Dutch area of Gujarati. Its a mixture of mashed potato, served with chutneys, sev in a bun.
- Pav Bhaji, what was considered years ago as the poor man’s meal has become a famous as street food all over India.
- Pani Puri is my hubby’s favorite..and he has been asking me to make it as we haven’t had it in a long time. Its basically a small puffed up puri in which spicy water along with mashed or chopped potatoes, boiled chickpeas and sometimes sprouted moong beans are added and eaten.
- I would love to try out Swaty’s unusual Moradabadi Dal Chaat. Never tasted it and don’t think am any soon going to Moradabad. So may just have to prepare it at home following her recipe.
- Absolutely love Swaty’s idea of Aloo Chane Taco Chaat.. such an innovative chaat which uses baked taco shells.
- If you’re a cheese lover like me then you’ll definitely enjoy Mexican Bhel, mixture of fried tortilla chips with boiled red beans, sweet corn, cheese of course, guacamole, hot red sauce, chopped carrots, cucumber and sev.
A bit about Ram Ladoo
The name Ram Ladoo is pretty odd for a chaat dish as at a glance Ram refers to Lord Ram and Ladoo is usually a round sweet ball. How this chaat got that name, I really don’t know. However, it was during my daughter’s wedding shopping in Delhi that we had got the opportunity to taste this chaat and I loved it. Such a simple chaat to put together and yet so flavorful. If anyone knows how this savoury dish got its name I’d love to know. Basically, Ram Ladoo is fried lentil fritters served with chutneys and grated radish…. didn’t I tell you its simple! To make this a bit more healthier without really compromising on the taste, I did not fry the Ram Ladoo but I used my appe pan (paniyaram, aebleskiver). Also I chose to make it more colorful by serving Ram Ladoo not only with grated radish but also grated carrot and beetroot too. Believe you me, it tastes really great.
Ingredients required for Ram Ladoo
- Moong Dal – split moong dal, the yellow one that is easily available in all Indian shops.
- Chana Dal – split chickpea lentils which again are easily available in all Indian shops as both are basic dals used in every Indian kitchen.
- Fresh Ginger – peeled and chopped into pieces
- Green Chillies – according to your taste.
- Cumin Seeds – added to the mixture whole or partially crushed for flavoring.
- Black Pepper Powder – for flavour
- Asafetida – commonly known as hing in Hindi, adding a pinch of it is totally optional.
- Green Chutney – fresh green chutney made from coriander or mint or a mixture of both or with mango is required for serving on top. I’e used a coriander mango chutney.
- Sweet Tamarind Chutney – required also to serve on top. Check the recipe on how to make sweet tamarind chutney.
- Radish -the star ingredient, fresh grated radish is a must. White radish is commonly used but you can also use the red radish.
- Grated Carrot and Beetroot – optional
- Fresh Coriander – chopped for topping
Ingredients required for Sweet Tamarind Chutney:
- Fresh Tamarind Paste – nowadays its possible to buy readymade tamarind paste. If that is not available then you have to soak about ½ cup tamarind in hot water. Allow it to rest till it becomes a bit cool. Using your hand, squeeze the mixture to remove the pulp off the fibre and pod. Using a strainer to strain the mixture, rubbing it against the sieve mesh with a spoon to get as much pulp or paste as you can.
- Fresh Ginger – added for flavour
- Cumin Powder – cumin seeds are dry roasted in a pan over low heat and then crushed.
- Fennel Seeds – also known as valiyari or saunf. Dry roasted in a pan over low heat and crushed.
- Jaggery – used to adds the sweetness
- Asafetida – Optional – Hing, just use a pinch. Too much may result in the chutney tasting bitter and asafetida taste can be overpowering.
- Red Chilli Powder – to add the balance of flavors.
- Gluten free (for gluten free option don’t add hing)
- Satvik as no onion and garlic is used
Ingredients for Ram Ladoo:
- 1 cup moong dal (split moong beans) yellow one
- ¼ cup chana dal (split chickpea lentils)
- ⅛ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1-2 whole green chillis washed and stem removed
- 1 inch fresh ginger washed and peeled
- pinch asafetida (hing) optional
- ½ tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
- some oil
Ingredients for Topping:
- 1 cup Green Chutney
- 1 cup Sweet Tamarind Chutney
- 1 cup radish grated
- ½ cup grated carrot optional
- ½ cup grated beetroot optional
- ½ cup fresh coriander chopped
Ingredients for Sweet Tamarind Chutney:
- ¼ cup tamarind paste or pulp thick
- ¼ cup jaggery
- ½ tsp fresh ginger paste
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp fennel powder (valiyari, saunf)
- 1 cup water
- pinch asafetida (hing) optional
- ¼ - ⅓ tsp salt
- ½ -1 tsp red chilli powder
Preparation of Ram Ladoo:
- Soak both the moong dal and chana dal in warm water for 3-4 hours.
- Drain out the water from the dal.
- Add the dals to a food processor jug along with ginger and chillis.
- Process to a paste which is not coarse or too smooth. If required you may add about ¼ cup water is your are using a blender jug.
- Remove the ground mixture into a mixing bowl.
- Add salt, cumin seeds and hing.
- Using a whisk, whip the mixture till it becomes light and fluffy. The more you whisk it the lighter the batter becomes.
- Heat the appe (paniyaram, aebleskiver)pan over medium heat.
- Add about 1-2 drops of oil into each cavity.
- Spoon the batter into the cavity, filling it ½ or ¾ of the way.
- Cover the pan, lower the heat and let the lentil fritters cook. This will take about 2-3 minutes.
- When the top of each fritter appears dryish, flip it over using a spoon or chopstick.
- Add a drop or two of oil and let the other side of the fritters cook.
- Repeat with the remaining batter, but make sure you whip it well before adding it to the appe pan.
- Keep the fritters on the side till required.
- Get the topping and chutneys ready.
Preparation of the Sweet Tamarind Chutney:
- If you don't have tamarind pulp or paste ready take about ½ cup tamairnd and soak it in hot water.
- When the mixture becomes a bit cool to handle, using your hand get the pulp off the tamarind pods.Using a sieve and spoon, strain the mixture to get a thick paste.
- Heat 1 cup of water and jaggery in a saucepan till the jaggery melts.
- Strain the mixture to remove any grit that might be present.
- Add the strained liquid back to the pan.
- Add the tamarind pulp or paste. Add the ginger paste.
- Let the mixture simmer over low heat till the chutney becomes thick.
- Stir occasionally so that the mixture does stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Add hing, salt, red chilli, cumin and fennel powder. Mix well.
- Remove the chutney from the pan into a serving bowl.
Serving Ram Ladoo:
- Arrange 3-5 of the lentil fritters in a bowl or plate.
- Add grated radish, carrot and beetroot on top.
- Top it up with the green and seet tamarind chutney.
- Garnish with chopped coriander and serve.
- The proportion of the lentils used varies from recipe to recipe. I find that 1:¼ works for me.
- I usually buy about 500g of tamarind and make the pulp or paste and leave it in the freezer.
- This chaat is served cold, so the fritters or bhajia can be prepared ahead.
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