Thursday, March 17, 2011

Portable Chaat and Doctored Ice Cream

Hello again! What started as a brief blog break somehow turned into several weeks of hibernation. We've had the kind of wet, cold, miserable weather that made me want to snuggle on the couch with a pile of good books, and I gave in and did exactly that.

Then yesterday the sun came out and I could feel the warmth soaking into me and infusing me with a burst of energy, so here I am with a couple of non-recipes, simple little things I made this weekend.

Chaat (the name given to a variety of Indian street food) is generally a gloriously messy affair. I've never thought of chaat as a particularly portable treat because of the dripping sticky chutneys, the fact that most chaats have a dozen components and that these components are often held at different temperatures and best assembled right before eating. But this past Saturday I wanted to take a snack for my trivia team and the chickpeas and potatoes in the pantry and the date tamarind chutney in the fridge persistently suggested that I should make some aloo tikki chana chaat. I've already posted the recipes for the components here. This was an experiment to see if I can convert this chaat into a portable format. It worked very well. The chaat was in good shape even after a car ride and 2 hours after I assembled it, every last one had been devoured without any mess at all.

This is how I assembled it right before we left home: in a 9 x 13 baking dish (a Pyrex or ceramic dish would be the prettiest choice but I used my battered metal one because it has a snap-on cover), start by arranging the shallow-fried tikkis (potato patties). Some breadcrumbs in the tikki mixture really helped to give them a crisp coating. Next comes a scoop of chana, where the chana is made a little drier than usual and where you try and get the chana to fit onto the tikki. Then a dollop of thick date tamarind chutney, followed by thick yogurt whipped with salt and paprika, and minced fresh cilantro. Cover the tray and you are set. The sev goes in a separate container to be sprinkled on generously right before everyone dives in.
* * *
Among the books I've reading lately were two by Marsha Mehran; they tell the story of three sisters who flee violence in their home country of Iran and seek refuge in a small town in Ireland where they open a cafe. I first heard of these books when Lavanya mentioned them in a comment on this post

The books are worth reading for the luscious food writing and unusual Iranian recipes. I enjoyed the story line in the first book, Pomegranate Soup but thought the plot in the second novel Rosewater and Soda Bread was weak and utterly unsatisfying. But this second book did have a scene in which the younger sister assembles a dessert called rosetachio ice cream. She simply scoops vanilla ice cream into a bowl and tops it with a drizzle of rosewater and a sprinkle of chopped pistachios. As she is doing this, she has an intense conversation with her oldest sister. I could not focus on the conversation because I was busy thinking, boy, this ice cream sounds so good. 


Luckily, I had half a carton of vanilla ice cream in the freezer and made this 2 minute dessert on Sunday night. It is a great way to doctor up some plain vanilla and transport yourself to more exotic (warmer!) lands with every spoonful. 

  • Soften good quality vanilla ice cream by leaving it out on the counter for 20 minutes or so. 
  • Stir in a splash of rosewater and a handful of chopped toasted pistachios
  • Freeze again, then serve.
Dale's Tales
Dale had an exciting new experience last month- he got to be a food critic- a taste tester for some local dog treats. My friend Deborah and her pup stopped by one morning with two local dog treats, and Dale got a chance to taste them and offer his expert opinion. If you'd like to read the article, here it is.

Now that the food critic gig is over, Dale is back to his regular full time job as chief daybed tester.


  1. Yay! you are back!

    I don't remember if I read the second book or not.
    Persian Icecream is soo yummy- we have a Persian grocery store close to home which stocks ice cream from two Persian ice cream shops. That reminds me- I must get some tonight

    hmmm- I want chaat!

  2. good to see you back and I would want to stand in line for chat assembly line

  3. Welcome back!
    The idea of portable chaat is perf. for a potluck.

    Dale rocks!

  4. You are simply awesome Nupur....

  5. Hey Nupur, Welcome back. Have been missing your posts. Portable chaat look great, may be made into bite size proportion, would be great hors-d'oeuvre. Jazzed up ice-cream makes me want to have some now, but alas I don't have vanilla ice cream in the freezer. Have to make some soon to try this recipe.

  6. Your title was super interesting :) Love the idea of ice cream with rose water...Hats off to Dale for being a taste tester !!

  7. Funny how the icecream distracted you. Rose water in icecream.. sounds fragrant!

  8. welcome bck,will look for the book in the library,chaat looks good,,..nd the icecream,.can imagine the taste,..;-)

  9. haha! Love dale's job!

    Reminder: Make Jeni's pistachio ice cream ( I know youve been meaning to!), douse it with rosewater and honey, devour it all and thank me :P

  10. Good to see you back..
    Missed you in blogland...

  11. Hi,

    My first time here, love ur recipes and stories :)
    Was going to ask you about the Banana leaf meal on your blog header that looked like it was knitted and then saw it on ur 'about' page, It is a really beautiful creation!
    Will bookmark your blog for sure


  12. good to hear from you again - I was just thinking of you the other day and thinking you had been quiet lately - love the chaat and was interested to hear about those books because I have looked at them in the shop and considered buying them

  13. Portable chaat and ice cream both looks fabulous..

  14. I missed your blog posts. Welcome back. And I loved seeing Dale.

  15. Missed you!
    Chaat looks ekdum delish!

  16. Portable Chaat! You are a genius Nupur.

    The doggy treat review was a great read. Dale is Oprah level famous? Do share the story.

  17. Good to have you back Nupur! The portable aloo chaat looks so inviting. The icecream too looks delicious. Definitely gonna make it once I have all the ingredients.

    Read the article on RFT. No wonder Dale is a food critic, after all he's surrounded by food (I should say good food) all the time. Didn't know that he was on Oprah (Looks like there is some story behind Dale that I am unaware of). Dale, you certainly are a superstar!

    Nupur, if you have that video, I am sure all your readers would love to watch it.

  18. Finally! You were missed! Glad you enjoyed your break - aah books :)

    I think I'm going to take some chaat to the neighbourhood holi party!


  19. One of my favorite ice cream quickies is to toast some unsweetened coconut and mix it in with softened vanilla ice cream. Super simple, pretty, and delish!

    Glad to see Dale. Steuben says hello.

  20. This looks delicious but I probably won't risk taking it anywhere further than the next room to eat it!

  21. I officially declare winter over, at least in Germany! We just had a gorgeous sunny day and I feel renewed. The portable chaat is going to my lunch box in a couple of days - chickepas are soaking right now. Thanks so much!

  22. WOW..Dale is a star..glad to see your post..I am going to try the icecream soon..the weather here is as hot as it can be and needs some cooling treats!

  23. Angela- Thank you :)

    Lavanya- Ooh I bet the Persian store has some wonderful ice cream flavors!

    Sreelu- LOL Yes I would do just about anything for chaat too :)

    Manasi- Yes, I'm happy to have one more chaat dish for potlucks.

    Poonam- Umm, really? Just because I made chaat? :D

    Cooks- Thank you, it is good to be back! Yes, with mini tikkis this would be a one-bite appetizer. The way I made it was probably 4 bites or so.

    chandrima- Thanks :)

    Arch- Dale says thanks!

    SS- Yes, I did not like rose flavor growing up but these days I seem to look for excuses to use it.

    notyet100- Thanks!

    Magpies Recipes- Jeni's ice cream will have to wait until the hot days of summer.

    packofjellybeans- Thank you, I missed being here too, but a break does me good every now and then!

  24. vidya- Hello and welcome, and I hope you enjoy looking around my blog!

    Johanna- Oh I think you would enjoy reading the books, especially the first one. They include many interesting recipes too!

    Priya- Thanks :)

    Michelle- Dale is blushing!

    Sangeetha- Oh yes, the chaat was over too soon!

    indosungod- Oh yeah the dog has had his 15 seconds of fame. His rescue story was featured on an Animal Planet show called Animal Precinct, and Oprah interviewed the NYC animal police once (2002 or so), Dale's footage was flashed on the Oprah screen. He didn't actually get to sit on Oprah's couch, although he would have loved to I am sure :D

    Amruta- Yes, Dale has made a career of begging treats and people food- it has honed his tastebuds!

    Miri- OOh a neighborhood holi party sounds like so much fun!

    Deborah- I like your coconut ice cream treat- will try that soon!

    Corina- Ha ha it took a lot of will power for me to share the chaat, trust me :)

    lacaffettierarosa- We had a beautiful Sunday too but the week looks rainy- oh well! I hope your chaat turns out tasty.

    Madhuli- My parents mentioned that it is 37 C there already, yikes, and it is only March. Hope you all stay cool in that kind of weather.

  25. Dale looks so cool!
    Yum looking chat, nice idea!

  26. Simple things are more yum at sounds that ice to try summer hit this part of creams are call for...

  27. Chaat looks delicious and the books sound interesting. I'm halfway through a good one right now. The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Pretty good read so far. Do check it out if you get the chance. I was on the request list at the library for a while to get this one.

  28. You have covered everything I love in this post: dogs, Indian food, ice cream, books and Lubely's Bakery! I LOVE that place (alas, not vegan, but gosh did I eat a lot of their cakes!). So this post put a smile on my face--thanks so much!

  29. Tasty chat. Looks so good.

  30. Welcome back Nupur, and I am glad to be back here too! The chaat looks so mouthwatering, I am craving for it right now at midnight...sigh. I loved your idea for the icecream; I have said this before and will repeat it; Nupur, you always have such innovative ideas for food,love it!!!
    And of course, dear Dale, so glad to see him again :) I loved his article on his treat tester gig. As for his full time job,a belly rub for him for working so hard!

  31. I am drooling over that chaat - my biggest weakness! Good to see your blog again.

  32. Hello Nupur,
    I want to make this dish. I was wondering what type of potatoes do you use to make the tikkis? I generally buy he gold Yukon ones but last time I am not sure what I picked the cooked potatoes got way too sticky. Just thought I'd ask you is there certain kind of potatoes(white\yellow) that you'd recommend before I go shopping?



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