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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Alu Papdi Chaat

During my initial years of engineering, our college functioned out of a leased premises. Other than a canteen that served bad meals but great tasting bread pakoras, there was nothing to munch on during the short breaks. And then, all of a sudden, this guy selling Papdi chaat perched himself near the gates at a predetermined time every day. Though he dished out a rather frugal version of the Papdi chaat that was sans any 'dahi' or chutney, it tasted awesome and was eagerly gobbled by the college students. His stuff would be sold out in less than an hour's time and he would count the money before treading home. With the chaat priced at just rupees ten per plate, he hardly made fortune. But he never thought of increasing the price or buying a bigger 'thela' so that he could sell more number of plates and make more money.

Then a year later, we shifted to a new campus and forgot all about this guy. But one day when I was looking into the ever burgeoning finances of our household, I was reminded of this poor soul after many years. How did his simplistic approach towards life fare in the face of rising inflation? How many plates did he still sell and is it enough to feed his family ? Is that guy covered by the financial inclusion plans that has been rolled out by the new government and if yes, how will it help him in the long run ? Can we trade our aspirational lifestyles in favor of something more simpler without being branded as social outcasts ?  Such questions kept hounding me for days and yet I was at a loss for any convincing answer.

Since this is a very minimalist recipe that can also be consumed on 'no onion no garlic' days, one can give more bite to it by adding some boiled chickpeas/yellow peas/kala channa, chopped cucumber and tomatoes/raw mangoes. Recipe here -






Preparation Time - 30 mins

For the Papdis
  • 2/3 cup maida/ all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup atta/ whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp semolina
  • 2-3 tbsp split gram dal ( I forgot to add this)
  • 2 pinch ajwain/ carom seeds 
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • oil for deep frying


For the chaat -

  • 10 papdis
  • 1 small potato (boiled, peeled and cubed)
  • 1/4 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • black salt as per taste
  • a pinch of chaat masala
  • cilantro for garnishing



Preparation - Take the maida, atta, semolina, oil, carom seeds and salt in a mixing bowl. Mix well and then add water little by little to bring everything together into a smooth dough. Cover with a moist cloth and keep aside for 20 mins.

Knead the dough once again before dividing into 3-4 portions. Roll out each portion on a flat surface. Take a circular cookie cutter or even a sharp edged bottle lid/cap and cut out small circles. Using a fork, punch holes in the small circles to prevent them from puffing up during frying.

Heat sufficient oil in a wok. Add the papdis, a few at a time and fry them on a medium flame. Lower temperature will turn the papdis chewy while high heat will brown them too quickly leaving the insides under cooked. Adjust the flame accordingly. Remove and place them on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Allow them to cool down completely before storing in airtight containers. Stays good for 8-10 days.

For assembling the Alu Papdi Chaat -




















Layer 10 puris/papdis on a plate. Throw the cubes potatoes over them. Sprinkle chili powder, chaat masala, lemon juice, chopped cilantro and black salt. Mix in and consume immediately.

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