I love chaat of any kind, but this avocado chaat has to be my new favourite. We discovered it at an Irani cafe here in Toronto called Bombay Snack Bar, I love how they make it (they happen to be one of the best Indian restaurants in Toronto). My mother-in-law said we can make this at home! Most Indian moms usually say this about restaurant food. They are all about hacking a restaurant recipe to make 'a better version' at home. Although I usually roll my eyes at such suggestions, I knew she was onto something. This copycat recipe of Avocado Millet Papdi Chaat is a winner. Also, this recipe happens to be vegan.
Ever since we made this avocado chaat recipe at home it has been on repeat. It is the perfect make-ahead recipe and also a great recipe for entertaining. The millet can be made a few days ahead. You can either choose to make or buy the chutneys from an Indian grocery store, the rest is fresh produce that you likely have on hand.
What type of food is chaat?
Chaat is the broad term given to a type of Indian street food. There are so many different types of chaat. The recipes are a heady blend of something salty, spicy, sour, sweet, and also something chatpat (tangy). Chaat offers exciting textural contrast so you will find crunchy sev or papdi along with boiled potatoes. Usually, the potato mixture, the sweet chutney, and green chutney are prepped ahead of time, but you toss the chaat together right before you eat it. No one wants a soggy chaat!
Millet recipes are quite common in Indian home-cooking, and there are so many varieties of millets to choose from. For this recipe, I have used kodo millet, only because that's what I had at home. Any type of millet will work perfectly. You may want to adjust the cooking time based on the millet you choose.
How to crisp millet perfectly?
The key to nailing the crunchy chaat texture in this recipe is to crisp up the millet. First, cook the millet in a small saucepan (1 part millet to 2 part water), allow it to cool completely (you can spread it out on a lined baking sheet to cool it). Next, bring some oil to medium heat in a large frying pan. Add the cooked cooled millet and toss it till it is evenly coated in oil. Lower the heat and allow the millet to cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes till the bottom begins to crisp. Continue to repeat this step for 10 - 15 minutes till the millet is completely crisp and dry to touch. You can cook and crisp up your millets a few days ahead and store it in the refrigerator.
The magic of chaat happens in a large mixing bowl. Add all the ingredients - crispy millet, papdi, chopped cucumbers, finely chopped onions, ripe avocados, tamarind chutney, mint chutney, lime juice / lemon juice, a pinch of red chili powder, pomegranate seeds, a pinch of black salt, fresh cilantro leaves, chaat masala, sev, and peanuts. Serve immediately topped with more sev and pomegranate and a dash of hot sauce (optional).
This avocado papdi chaat recipe is a modern take on an Indian classic aloo chaat, however, it totally satiates my chaat craving. You can serve this chaat as a salad, side, or appetizer. If you are considering an all-out chaat party this festive season, here are some other recipes to round out the menu Palak ki Tikki and Sweet Potato Samosa Tart.
- 1 cup millet (kodo, foxtail, barnyard)
- 2 tablespoon neutral oil (vegetable oil, avocado oil)
- ¼ cup mint cilantro chutney
- ¼ cup tamarind chutney
- ½ + ½ cup nylon sev (thinnest size sev)
- 10 - 15 papdi
- ¼ cup roasted peanuts
- 1 English cucumber, deseeded and chopped
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 pomegranate, deseeded (reserve some for garnish)
- 1 green chile finely chopped (optional)
- ½ teaspoon chaat masala
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- a pinch of red chili powder
- a pinch of black salt (kala namak)
- juice of 1 lime (or half a lemon)
- freshly chopped mint leaves / coriander leaves for garnish
- kosher salt
- A few dashes of hot sauce (optional)
- Wash and add the millet to a deep saucepan along with 2 cups of water and a large pinch of salt. Bring it to a boil, lower the heat, cover and continue to let it simmer for about 8-10 minutes till the millet is completely cooked.
- Fluff the millet and allow it to cool completely, you can spread the millet out on a baking sheet to speed up the cooling process.
- Heat a large skillet with straight sides over medium flame. Pour in the oil and swirl it around. When hot, add in the cooled, cooked millet and toss till it is well coated in oil. Don't overcrowd the pan, ensure there is enough space in the skillet to move the millet around, you may have to do this step in batches.
- Continue to cook the millet over medium heat tossing it every few minutes till it is crispy and dry to touch. This should take about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set it aside to cool. Millets can be prepared a few days ahead
- Assemble the avocado millet papdi chaat. right before serving. To a large bowl add millet, cucumber, pomegranate seeds (save some for garnish), onion, ½ cup sev, crushed papdi, green chutney, tamarind chutney, peanuts, green chile (if using), chaat masala, cumin powder, black salt, juice of one lime. Toss till everything is well combined. Don't over toss since the chaat will become soggy.
- Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Divide the chaat onto serving plates or bowls, top with sev, pomegranate seeds, papdi and freshly chopped mint and coriander leaves. Add a few dashes of hot sauce if desired.
- Serve immediately.
- Prep time assumes you are making the chutney. If you are using store-bought chutneys this recipe comes together in 30 minutes.
- Crisping up the cooked millet will roughly yield about 4 cups of millet
- Prepare the chaat right before you plan to serve. If you are only making a few plates at a time, store the remaining ingredients in the fridge, sev and papdi will remain fresh in your pantry.