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.
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.
What would life be like without the occasion surrender to whimsy? There are certain foods, which, when you lay your eyes upon them, bring a smile to your face and a honey glow to your cheeks; the type of foods that elicit a little giggle, often punctuated with the expression “Awww!” so often used to describe ‘cute’ things. I have a reverence of sorts for foods that are as fun and artful to look at as they are delicious to eat. When it comes to creating foods that are fully of whimsy and visual interest, this is my wheelhouse. I found myself pottering around my kitchen today, bolstered by an enthusiasm to satiate my craving for some combination of bread and meat. I found myself where I find myself frequently: telling myself that a bread this cute was worth wasting a lot of carb calories on — the all too familiar refrain of the carb addict.
And so, I set out to make these cute little caterpillar breads. Don’t even try to tell me that they didn’t make you crack a smile. But I reckon I know what you’re thinking: they are tedious and time-consuming and not to be tampered with unless you have an afternoon off to do nothing but bake bread. And to that, I say: O ye of little faith, would I dare to share a recipe with you that isn’t as simple as it is delicious? There is no food in this world that eager zealousness paired with visual acuity cannot create with ease and very little time.
This cute bread is also a celebration of sorts. It’s my birthday today and though the last few years of my adult life have brought many changes to who I am today, I’ve retained the one trait that every woman my age should have in spades: reckless abandon in the kitchen. The sands of time have yet to rob me of my brimming and burgeoning desire to create unique foods. So follow my lead and give this daring recipe a try. This recipe is the cadillac of cute breads — right up there with ‘panda bread’ and ‘bears in tea cups’ (stayed turned for those recipes in coming weeks). An entirely unscientific poll taken in my kitchen at a dinner party some years ago, found that two-thirds of people thought cute foods are superior in taste than those foods that are made with little creativity, and so, to that end, I bring you this recipe. These cute little caterpillar breads are often filled with sweet fillings such as coconut, in local Chinese bakeries around Toronto, so the sky is the limit when it comes to what you can fill these breads with: sweet or savoury, the choice is yours to make.