Friday, June 22, 2018

Avocado Chaat

Summer means buttery Haas avocados at the grocery store. These knobbly dark green fruit have a host of monikers including alligator pears and butter fruit. However, what's in a name, as they are full of nutrients, vitamins, good fat and cholesterol lowering items. I just love their smooth, soft texture and distinctive taste. My father would bring heaps back from his business trips to Bangalore in the 1970's. To my knowledge, Bangalore was the only town they were then available. To me they were exotic, rare, a fruit that not many people had heard of or even knew how to eat. Cut in half, we squirted lime juice and salt on them, eating them plain. Other times, a dollop of mayonnaise added another element of flavor. The pits, planted in a pot, sprouted into leggy tall plants which I would watch obsessively hoping to find pear shaped fruit. I know now that they never fruit in pots, but as a idealistic teen, hope sprung eternal.

Cherished family comes to visit. Vic, Carla and Leah join us. I know Carla is an avocado aficionado so I buy more than a few to make this innovative take on chaat. Having eaten something similar at Rasika in Washington DC, I intend to change it up. Cubed avocado are sprinkled with bhelpuri mix. Bhelpuri mix could be bought as a packaged item. It has puffed rice, sev or chickpea noodles and fried pooris or wheat crisps. This is the easiest way to make bhelpuri, adding in the chutneys, potatoes and onions. The mix softens easily once the chutney is added, so you need to work fast. Scatter thinly sliced green chile on avocados. Drizzle a little sweet tamarind chutney over them. Squirt a little lime juice all over the plate. Garnish with fresh cilantro and dig in.

Serves 4-6

2 Haas Avocados
1/2 cup Bhelpuri Mix
1/2 Green Chile
a generous pinch of Kosher Salt 
2 teaspoons sweet Tamarind Chutney (Store bought or homemade[see recipe in NOTES]) 
1/2 Lime
Fresh Cilantro leaves

Cut avocados in half. Discard the pit. Score avocados with knife, going breadth wise and lengthwise. Scoop cubes with a spoon onto a platter.

Slice green chile thinly and scatter over avocados.

Season with kosher salt.

Scatter bhelpuri mix over avocados.

Drizzle sweet chutney over the bhelpuri mix.

Squeeze a little lime juice over avocados.

Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.

Enjoy the chaat.


Store bought chutney is perfectly acceptable.

The recipe below lasts in the fridge for upto 2 months in a tightly sealed bottle.

Tamarind Chutney  
1 cup Tamarind pulp
2 cups Water
1/2 cup Jaggery or Brown Sugar
A pinch of Kosher Salt.

If you are not using store bought tamarind chutney start by making it first. Soak tamarind in water for 3 to 4 hours.

Squeeze pulp well and strain into a saucepan. You should only use the liquid. No pulp.

Add jaggery and salt and simmer on a medium flame for 15 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Cool and place in a glass jar.

Unusual flavors make  a big impression. Carla loves the concept. The table is laden with biryani, raita, parathas, dal dhungar and chaat. Empty plates are my reward.