In most Indian markets and bazaars you’ll find a hawker walking with a big basket on his hand and a bamboo tripod stand on his shoulders. Once called out he’ll quickly set up a workstation and you’ll find that he reveals a faint yellow sweet potato peeking out of cooked brick-red skin on coal embers.
Before you even take in the visual, you’ll see he quickly peels the cooked sweet potato with a knife, cuts it into thick discs and asks you how spicy you want your Shakarkandi chaat!
Shakarkandi or Sweet potato as it is known outside India, is a tuber that is transformed into a chaat and sold as a tangy savoury snack in most towns of North India. I remember seeing it mostly during winter time in Delhi but here in Dubai it’s a constant fixture in the neighbourhood supermarket. Only lately have I started picking it up to prepare this guilt-free snack that I once loved devouring during market hauls with my mother!
Living far from India makes me think of things that are typically Indian and how we take them for granted. Recently a reader, who’s a fabulous Chef herself, mentioned that she’ll have to look for Chaat masala that went into our Aloo Chaat recipe. I’ve never really had to make Chaat masala because I usually find it on the shelves here in Dubai, but for those who struggle to find it and have to go to specific Indian grocery stores, there’s hope!
So I’m sneaking in a chaat masala recipe in this post that I found in this awesome Punjabi cookbook that Kanika recently gifted me. It is called Menus and Memories from Punjab by Veronica Rani Sidhu, a lovely American woman who spent thirty years at the side of her Punjabi Mother-in-law in kitchens and communities in India and the U.S. Do check it out if love recipes from Punjab. I love her attention to detail when she explains simple things like pronunciation of ingredients and traditional foods. I shall talk more about my adventures with this cookbook in future posts.
Till then, here’s how I make the Shakarkandi or Sweet Potato Chaat!
2 Sweet Potatoes
Water for boiling/steaming
1 teaspoon Himalayan Pink Salt (or regular salt)
1/2 teaspoon Roasted Cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon Chaat masala
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon Tamarind Chutney
1/2 tablespoon Mint coriander chutney (optional)
Wash the Sweet Potatoes. Steam/Boil/ Roast them with their skin on.
I choose to steam them. For this I cut them before and place them in a sieve which I then place over a pot of boiling water and cover.
It took me 10-12 minutes roughly to steam the sweet potato. I suggest checking by piercing with a knife or a fork. If it goes through easily, the sweet potato is cooked.
Once cooked, take out the sweet potato pieces out from the steamer and let it cool for a few minutes. Once it is comfortable to work with, peel the potatoes and cut into smaller pieces.
Transfer these to a slightly bigger mixing bowl. Put in all the spices and tamarind chutney and green chutney (if using) and toss well to coat the pieces. You can adjust the spices and salt according to your tastes.
Now for the Chaat masala Recipe
Chaat Masala Recipe
4 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 tablespoons green mango powder (amchur)
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper/ Red Chilli Powder
3/4 teaspoon ground black salt
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dried mint, crushed
Roast the cumin seeds and peppercorns in a small dry skillet till you can smell the aroma. Transfer to a spice or coffee grinder and grind. Mix in the remaining ingredients and store in an air tight container.
You can use this over kebabs, chaats, spiced yogurt (raita) and even fried chips, potatoes or corn on the cob. Goes great with a squeeze of lemon!
More Snack recipes on Kitchenpostcards