Chaat Papdi

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Chaat Papdi is a snack which is commonly enjoyed in Pakistan and Northern India. This sweet and spicy snack is street food fare at its finest. You’ll find food carts around India which assemble and serve this delicious little treat to order, so the crispy bits remain crunchy and the ingredients meld together on your palate rather than in the bowl. The snack is meant to be consumed immediately after it’s put together which is no impossible feat, since you’ll want to gobble this all up in one sitting!

Chaat Papdi is a marriage of flavours and textures between the sweetness of the chutney, the heat of the aromatic spices and the gorgeous crunch it finishes with. It combines chick peas with cool yogurt, topped with fresh tomatoes, onions and cilantro and a crunchy fried bits of deliciousness.

What sets my chaat papdi apart from what I’ve tasted in the past is that every layer of ingredients is individually flavoured and seasoned. When you order chaat papdi from most shops, you’ll get a plate of cooked, unseasoned chickpeas and often potatoes which are topped with unseasoned yogurt and fresh veggies. The real flavour is lended to the snack via the tasty chutneys that are drizzled on top. My chaat papdi is flavoured all throughout — from the chick peas to the yogurt to the toppings — then it’s topped with chutney, so it packs a punch of sweet and tangy flavours with just a hint of heat.

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So there are not a ton of spices used to make this – just enough to deliver some solid flavour. For the tamarind date chutney, you can purchase this at any Indian shop or find it in the International section of your local grocer. If you prefer to make it from scratch (yum!), you can follow my recipe for date chutney but note that my recipe makes a lot of chutney so you may have to cut the recipe in half. You’ll still be left with a good amount of chutney to use for other applications (such as dipping in delicious samosas or pakoras) but all you’ll need it 1 cup of the chutney or less for this recipe. You can add 1 tablespoon of the tamarind paste (shown in the link) to the 1 cup to make the chutney a bit more tart.

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Gulab Jamun

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If you’ve never tasted this Indian dessert before, allow me to introduce you to (arguably) thee most delicious Indian sweet you will ever sink your teeth into. These pillow-y balls of sweetness are fragrant with the unmistakable aroma of saffron and boast a gorgeous golden colour with a soft white interior. The texture inside is cake-like. Imagine, if you will, cake balls which are made from milk, butter and flour then deep fried until they are soft and fluffy. Their sweetness is derived from the sugar syrup in which they sit, slowly soaking up simple syrup which is beautifully infused with fragrant saffron.

This dessert is popular in countries of the Indian subcontinent which includes India, Pakistan and Nepal. The name of the dessert is derived from the Persian word ‘gulab’ which means flower and the Indian word ‘jamun’ which is a fruit which is similar in size and shape.  Indian desserts are often given the reputation of being tedious, technical and even fussy. Truth be told, most Indian desserts are somewhat difficult to prepare because they so closely rely on carefully calculated temperatures, exact textures to indicate doneness and require constant stirring and monitoring. To nip that problem in the bud, I’ve provided step-by-step instructions and photos to walk you carefully through this process of creating these sweet little balls of goodness.

If you’ve tasted gulab jamuns in the past and haven’t developed a taste for them, I can safely assure you that you have not lived until you have tried this recipe for gulab jamuns. It’s a recipe that has been developed and perfected by my mum over the years and will, no doubt, blow any gulab jamun you have ever tasted right out of the water. A friend of mine who hated (yes, ‘hated’) gulab jamuns (presumably because she has had too many bad gulab jamuns in her life to develop any love for them) tasted these at my urging after turning her nose up at them. Needless to say, she ate her fair share of these after tasting one and has rekindled her relationship with these addictive little sweets. 

These are traditional dessert fare at Indian weddings and I hate to admit it but I, too, have tasted too many bad gulab jamuns to count (you know the small unattractive ones you get at weddings that are swimming in obscene amounts of syrup, are overly sweet, largely tasteless and almost inedible?). I’m willing to bet that at some time or another your own experience with these sweets was marred by a poorly prepared gulab jamun that met its fate at your fork. 

Even my husband has developed an unrelenting fondness of these (despite his general distaste for Indian sweets) and is now known to enjoy an entire gulab jamun in one bite — no utensils needed — before returning for another (and another) before he is satisfied. Try these and I assure you that you’ll be shamelessly indulging in them too!

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