There are some dishes which you always associate with some memories...chana chaat for me is one such dish. There was this chaat vendor in Matunga Central in Mumbai who would sell this delicious chana chaat, but more than the chaat itself, it was the way he prepared it which I remember so well. It was such a delight to watch him at work.
He had this set of four containers at his thela one containing common salt, one kala namak, one bhuna jeera and dhania mix and the last a red chilli blend. He’d ask you how you want your chaat medium spicy, spicy or bland and then he would set about making the chaat. The highlight of the preparation was how he would put pinches of each of the mixes with extremely swift moves, according to your preference. Mid-way he would give you a sample and then make any changes as required.
I remember once a customer had asked him why he doesn’t use appropriate sized spoons for each of his mixes, but he just replied that something like that doesn’t work for him and he gets the perfect taste only when he uses the pinches of spices :-).
1 cup green channa (you can use brown too but green tastes better in this chaat),
1 medium sized onion,
1 big boiled potato,
1 medium sized tomato,
2 chopped green chillies,
A good handful of coriander leaves,
½ tsp roasted cumin powder,
½ tsp roasted red chilli powder,
Salt to taste,
Juice of half a lemon
Soak the channa overnight or for eight hours. Cook it in salted water till done. Drain, this is an important step, if the channa is not drained well the chaat can get too soggy.
Dice the boiled potato. Finely chop the onion, tomato and coriander leaves.
Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and serve immediately.