My friend Ratnesh introduced me to this quick and tasty Indian street food snack, or “chaat.” It is incredibly good and, like much Indian food when it is made well, healthy and easy. This particular chaat mixture is stuffed into small cones made from banana leaves. Banana leaves are available in Asian food stores. With a bit of notice, you could also ask your grocer to order them for you. If you can’t find fresh banana leaves, make small cones using parchment paper.
Recipe courtesy of "Street Food: Exploring the World's Most Authentic Tastes" by Tom Kime, copyright 2007. Used by permission of Dorling Kindersley Limited. All rights reserved.
|3 all-purpose medium potatoes||1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced|
|2 tbsp flaked coconut||2 scallions (green onions), thinly sliced|
|a little vegetable oil||1 lemon, juice|
|1 onion, finely chopped||30 fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped|
|8 oz (225 g) mixed mung bean sprouts and alfalfa sprouts, rinsed and drained||3 tbsp Date and Tamarind Chutney|
|2 fresh green jalapeno or serrano chilies, seeded and finely chopped||salt and freshly ground black pepper|
First make the cones to hold the filling; these will take the greatest amount of time, so it is better to have them all ready before you start cooking. You will need some banana leaves. Cut them into 4in × 8in (10cm × 20cm) rectangles, allowing for 3 rectangles per person. Roll each rectangle into a tight cone. Secure the edges with a toothpick to hold in place.
Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2 in (1cm) chunks. Place in a pan of cold water with a little salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potato is tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, but still firm. Drain in a sieve and let cool.
Place a dry heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add the coconut and toast, stirring often, until golden brown. Remove and set aside. Add a little oil to the pan, and cook the onion for 3–4 minutes until golden brown. Increase the heat to high, add the bean sprouts, and cook quickly for another 2 minutes. Next add the chilies and red bell pepper. Cook quickly for another couple of minutes until the mixture is crisp-tender. Season well with salt and black pepper. Stir in the lemon juice.
Combine the cooked mixture with the diced potato, scallions, and Date and Tamarind Chutney. Stir in the cilantro. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning. The seeds and coconut should provide a good crunch. Using a small spoon, fill the cones and hand them to your guests with small spoons to eat the filling. Eat at once so the filling does not soften the cone. You can refill the banana-leaf cones as needed.
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