Also called papri chaat or papdi chat, this North Indian/Bangladeshi/Pakistani food is mostly served on the street and consists of crisp fried flat puris (papdis) that are served topped with boiled potatoes, boiled chickpeas, moong beans, onions, some curds, crispy sev, green and sweet chutneys, dustings of spices and fresh coriander. ‘Papdi’ refers to the crunchy pastry base. The Spruce Eats (www.thespruceeats.com) says that ‘chaat’ is a generic term that encompasses many versions of a sweet, salty, tangy, and crunchy dishes that is served throughout the Indian subcontinent. They continue to say that in Hindi chaat means ‘to lick’. And these small, modern versions or canapés are indeed delicious enough to lick ones fingers and lips.
Incorporating a traditional papdi chaat in a normal meal may not be so simple – which may be why it is a street-food, a small snack that one eats when you feel a little peckish. In this recipe, which has been adapted to create individual canapés, the whole boiled chickpeas have been replaced by hummus, which is of course not Indian at all. However, the spreadability of the hummus helps keep the canapé together, and it is much easier to use than it would be to balance individual chickpeas on a small, puffed biscuit. The canapés are elegant and has a lovely combination of flavours. The addition of papaya gives a freshness and lightness to the papdi chaat, making it perfect as an arrivals snack at a party. The onion in the recipe is marinated for mellowness.
Remember that Indian chutneys differ from the traditional idea South Africans have of a chutney. Chutneys in India are flavoursome sauces, such as a date and tamarind chutney or a coriander chutney. In this recipe the coriander chutney is just a simple green sauce, or salsa verde, a combination of coriander, garlic, chilli, lemon juice, salt and olive oil puréed with a stick blender. You can be creative and make it from any green herb.
Ingredients for 24 small individual canapés:
For the papdi:
150 g cake flour
60 g butter (or ghee if you are able to source it)
5 ml (1 teaspoon) onion seeds
5 ml (1 teaspoon) salt
80 ml water
Any seed oil for deep-frying
24 slices (about 3 mm thick) potato, seasoned and fried in a little oil
24 x 10 ml = 240 ml hummus
24 round slices (about 3 mm thick) of ripe papaya
24 thin slices of small onion (around 4 cm in diameter) – pour 100 ml boiling vinegar over and steep until cold, drain
24 x 10 ml = 240 ml thick Greek full cream yoghurt
24 x 2,5 ml (½ teaspoon) = 60 ml green sauce (see note above)
Small packet of sev (crispy chickpea flour paste Indian noodles)
Toasted ground cumin
Some coriander leaves
First make the papdi pastry. Mash the butter or ghee into the flour. Add all the remaining ingredients and then knead the dough to a medium soft dough. Wrap and chill. After about half an hour, remove from the fridge, thinly roll out about a quarter of the dough at a time on a lightly floured work surface. Cut out 8 cm circles with a pastry cutter. Repeat with the remaining dough. Warm up the oil and test a little scrap dough. The pastry should immediately bubble and turn nicely golden brown. Fry all the papdi and drain on kitchen paper.
To assemble the papaya papdi chaat canapés, lay all the papdi crisps out on to a cutting board. Top with a slice of fried potato, then a slice of papaya, thereafter a small spoon of hummus, then the onion. Thereafter blob a small amount of yoghurt on, make a small indentation in the yoghurt and spoon some green sauce in. Lastly pile some sev on top, use a small tea sieve and dust with cumin powder and masala, and decorate with fresh coriander leaves. Serve immediately.