Food I Eat: Papri Chaat
Street food is my weakness. It’s hard enough when I have to walk or drive by a vendor and NOT stop, but when they come directly to my house and stand outside my door ringing their bell (which musically calls to my stomach) I have a hard time refusing. Every day between 5:00 and 6:00 in the evening the Chaat Wallah strolls by our house, pushing his yellow cart, dinging his bell and serving tasty treats. I’ve noticed that he slows down and rings a bit louder at our house, and with good reason. I’m a sucker. There was a couple weeks back in February where I was buying Chaat every day. Thankfully this has stopped, as my growing gut and tightening pants will attest.
Though I love all kinds of Chaat – which is basically Indian Fast Food or snacks – I have completely fallen in love with Papri Chaat. There are as many varieties of Papri Chaat as there are vendors who make it – yes, that’s a lot of variety – however, my Chaat Wallah has the best Papri Chaat of all.
Here’s how he makes it:
- First, a layer of Papri – a flour based, deep fried chip.
- Followed by a layer of boiled potato.
- Then he sprinkles some sort of “cake” like substance – that is pale yellow. No idea what this is, but it absorbs flavor nicely.
- Now come the chutneys – a Tamarind Chutney followed by the deepest red hot sauce I’ve ever seen. He puts a lot on too, spoonful after spoonful, carefully spread evenly over the entire dish.
- Then comes some fried crispy noodle like things
- Topped with cut coconut and coriander.
All this is made with his bare – unwashed – hands and then he finally slips the wooden spoon underneath and hands the plate over with a smile, asking for his Rs.20 (about 35 cents). I go inside, sit at my desk and drift off into heaven.
If you want to try his wares, head on over to BD market after 6pm and look for the guy at the SouthEast corner – he has a mustache, though most of these guys do, so that probably won’t help.