Chaat, the word itself means to taste or to savour and Indians love doing exactly that. No matter where you go in India, Chaat has its presence. It somehow embodies all the flavours that Indians loves. Sweet, spicy, tangy, crunchy, soft, hot, cold, the list of textures and flavours that constitute chaat are almost endless! All though the base is mostly the same, every region gives it its own spin based on local tastes. Namma Chennai gives it some unique ones. There are of course many places in Chennai where you can get the north Indian style of chaat, but we are talking about the most local shops on the road and at the beaches.
Chennaites love Chana or Chickpeas or Chole or Kadala. It is available in many varieties and forms and one of the top street foods around is the Sundal. This beloved legume is almost always used for many of the chaat variants. Cutlet Mix or Samosa Mix is one of them, where a generous portion of thick yet soupy cooked chickpeas is poured generously over smashed vegetable cutlets or samosas.
Even the filling for a sev puri will contain a dollop of mashed cooked chickpeas.
Cornflakes. This ingredient is another favourite. It is sprinkled on top of the dishes along with sev and we must say, the textural crunch of the cornflakes only adds to dish.
The consistency of the roadside chaats in Chennai is also a bit different. People prefer a slightly soupy bowl of goodness. Even the Bhel puri will have lashings of sauce and a lot more potatoes that make it moist. Now, don’t judge it till you try it. We know moist bhel puri sounds a bit weird, but trust us there is something special about having the bhel soak up some extra juices. The Dahi Papdi too at most places will have a lot more dahi than you are used to anywhere else, of course along with the chana masala that goes into everything.
Chennaites like it hot and the chaat here will usually be more spicy that sweet or tangy. The spicy red chilli sauce also has a south indian touch to it. The stall owners use local round red chillies that have been roasted before making into the fiery chutney.