Chaat: Malaysia’s Culinary Art

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Chaat, a term that literally translates to ‘lick, tasting, delicacy’, is a family of savoury snacks that originated in India. These snacks are typically served as appetizers or at roadside stalls and food carts across South Asia, including countries like India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Malaysia.

Source: thekitchn

The word “Chaat” is derived from the Hindi word “cāṭ” which means tasting or delicacy. This term is further rooted in the action of licking one’s fingers while indulging in the dish, emphasizing its deliciousness.

Chaat primarily consists of fried dough accompanied by a variety of other ingredients. The original chaat is a blend of potato pieces, crisp fried bread, gram or chickpeas, and tangy-salty spices. It is garnished with sour Indian chili, saunth (a sauce made from dried ginger and tamarind), fresh green coriander leaves, and yogurt. However, there are numerous variations of chaat, some of which include alu tikkis, samosas, bhel puri, dahi puri, panipuri, dahi vada, papri chaat, and sev puri. Common elements in these variants include yogurt, chopped onions, coriander, sev (thin dried yellow salty noodles), and chaat masala.

Source: epicurious

Historical Roots
Some chaat dishes, like Dahi Vada, have ancient origins and can be traced back to texts from the 12th century. The organized concept of chaat, as a distinct group of dishes, is believed to have originated in northern India during the late 17th century. The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s royal doctors advised the people of Delhi to consume spicy and fried snacks, along with yogurt, to counteract the alkaline water of the Yamuna river.

Chaat, with its rich history and diverse flavors, has become a beloved snack not just in its place of origin but also in countries like Malaysia. Its tantalizing combination of textures and flavors ensures that it remains a favorite for many around the world.



Article curated by Suwaytha Gopal