City Food – Daal Chaat, Around Town
The zesty health punch.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Shocking. It is not deep-fried and yet it is a popular and cheap street food of Delhi.
What’s the appeal?
Served in a leaf bowl, daal chaat is sprouted moth beans tossed with boiled potato cubes, chopped tomatoes and onions, then seasoned with a squeeze of lemon and a dash of salt. The mixture is topped with coriander leaves.
In the inner circle of colonial-era Connaught Place, the vendors set up stalls in the open space between the pillared corridors. Sprouted daal is arranged in a pyramid on the top of the bamboo stand called a tarauna.
The sight tempts the wandering eyes of shoppers. Take a closer look and you see the various garnishes arranged in small bowls. While ordering, ask the man to add in more of your favroite garnish, be it onion, potato, or lemon juice. But don’t press too much; he might snap back saying that you can get only so much for ten rupees.
The light and healthy chaat is a quick energy fix that can do wonders to lift your spirits, wearied by your stressful shopping excursion. But by the time you reach the next block in the inner circle, you may feel the craving to have another round.
Sadly, its zesty effect is short-lived, but if you ask the man to spike it with extra chopped green chillies, the effect lasts longer.
Daal chaat snapshots