January 16, 2009
This was the longest birthday celebration ever. On the eve of the big day, my client took a colleague and me to a night out at Cirque du Soleil.
It was to celebrate the end of a major project – the development of a new luxury report followed by its global media launch. We had collectively spent months of blood, sweat and tears. Now it was time to let our hair down. In style.
We grabbed a glass of champagne and sandwich each and made our way to the red carpet box. As the acrobatics started, so did the assault on our senses. With every air borne somersault, we clutched the edge of our seats. It was fresh, bold and full of punch.
Not unlike a Chaat, I thought to myself as we left the venue mesmerised by the production. [Do I never stop thinking about food??] These spicy and tangy snacks are the mainstay of street food vendors and tea parties back home. The word literally means “to lick” or relish. It’s impossible not to, with the explosion of flavours on offer.
I went out and bought Papdi (pronounce paap-ri), the flat flour biscuits, that are layered with boiled potatoes, yogurt to make Papdi Chaat. Spicy tamarind sauce and coriander chutney give the dish a kick. Along with a sprinkling of pungent spices and topping of crushed crispy fried noodles or Sev.
Unlike the modern circus, this required no special skill. Just a specialist shopping trip.
Soak the tamarind in the boiling water mixed with the sugar and rest of the spices. Next boil the potatoes and crush into little bite-sized pieces. I just peeled, chopped them and microwaved them covered for 7 minutes on high.
Next, puree the coriander with the rest of the chutney ingredients until you get a smooth paste. Strain the tamarind of its juices two times until you get a thick, sweet and sour sauce.
Now it’s a simple assembly job. Place the Papdis in a single layer on a plate. Spread the crushed potatoesÂ and kala channa on top, then pour over the whipped yogurt, sprinkle the spices, spoon the chutney and drizzle the tamarind sauce.
Finish with a sprinkling of the Sev or Bhujia and enjoy the colours, textures and flavours immediately before the Papdis soften. I served this with sparkling grape juice and birthday cake to a friend.