When you grow up in a city and you have to leave your familiar streets, roads, stores all of a sudden it feels a radical change. I have grown up in Kolkata most part of my childhood and teenage have passed in the city of joy. And then I had to leave – first to Bangalore and then to a whole different country, to the United States.
Its been almost 5 years since I left Kolkata, but there are still some little things that tend to draw me towards the undying city. Of course my folks are there and so there is a special bond. But, what am talking about is the dusty roads, the sweaty rickshaw wala, the continuous honking of buses and cars and of course the phuchka.
While in Bangalore, I still used to get the cousin of phuchka – golgappa though they used mint paste and onions in the filling (which I hate). But, here in the US phuchka is a far off thing.
The last time I went to my local grocery store, there was this plastic box of golgappas sitting at one corner of the aisle, and I just grabbed them. That evening was a nice one – a treat with phuchka, though they still missed something. My father would probably call that to be the sweat of the vendor and Kolkata’s dust.
The other popular snack from the same phuchkawala is the alu kabli and churmur. Alu kabli is the spicy hot and sour mixture of bite size boiled potatoes. Churmur is the broken down version of phuchka, or rather its a transition between alu kabli and phuchka.
When I was young and still a school going child, my mom was very particular about my hygiene. She never used to let me have anything prepared on the streets, but that led me to break the rule and indulge having roadside food. Everyday when I used to comeback from school I used stop at the nearest chaat stall and had my share of alu kabli. Alu Kabli or alu chaat as they call it in most parts of India is very popular among all students, but to disclose the secret it tempts all. My mom used to scold me for having street junks, but I could never kill my temptation to have the small bowl full of alu chaat. School days have passed years ago, but I still can’t resist the smell and taste of alu chaat.
The tamarind paste and the green chilies mix to create an ecstatic smell of freshness, which I have never got from any dish I had. The spices make a brilliant hot and sour combination, and of course the potatoes and chickpeas add to the joy of having it. This evening when I was preparing the alu chaat, I am flown back to the stall just outside my school, and how I craved for the last bell to ring. I have had alu chaats in many different places, but still when I pass by that chaatwala I stop to commit the sin of having the same old alu chaat. Today my post is a tribute to the good times I spent with my friends in front of the chaat stall and the fear of getting caught by mom.
Potato (Alu): 2 large sizes
Onion (Peyaj): 1 medium size
Roasted cumin powder (Jeera guro): 1 teaspoon
Red Chili Powder (Sukhno Lankar guro): 1 teaspoon
Green chili (Kacha Lanka): 2-3
Chickpea (Chana Dal): 1 tablespoon
Coriander leaves (Dhane pata) for garnishing
Salt to taste
Soak the chickpeas overnight, or for more than 6 to 7 hours.
Boil the potatoes without taking out the peel. Alternately you can also bake it in a microwave oven for 12 minutes.
After the potatoes are boiled properly, see to it that they are not over boiled, take out the peels and chop them into 1” length pieces
Chop the onions very finely, the chilies in small rings
Add all spices along with the onions, green chili and salt; mix well
Throw in the chickpeas and tamarind paste, toss it so that it gets evenly mixed
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve
Alu chaat is a favorite among all age groups. Serve it over an evening chit chatting. Look for more updates here, till then Happy Cooking and Happy Eating.