This crispy corn chaat is explosively delicious - quite literally as each flavourful bite explodes in your mouth. That crunch of fried crispy corn is so satisfying! If you're looking for a new savoury vegan snack idea, look no further. You've just found the most perfect, quick and easy to prepare snack experience. It's sweet, salty, crunchy, spicy and tangy at the same time. And it's gluten-free, too!
It can be enjoyed any time of the day but I find it tastes the most delicious at tea time with a huge cup of masala chai. Indian food lovers will get what I'm talking about. Disclaimer: this crispy corn chaat is dangerously addictive. Once you learn how to make this crispy corn snack and once you start playing the chaat game, there is no going back. You've been warned!
What is chaat?
Chaat is quintessential Indian street food snacks, typically made of fresh, healthy ingredients. I think it's about time chaat gets more recognition here, because let's face it - there is more to Indian food than chana masala! In fact, dare I say it, chaat and street food, in general, are the real quintessence of Indian cuisine. Nothing combines textures, flavours, aromas and colours as perfectly as a serving of freshly prepared chaat, straight from the stall!
Chaat is a savoury Indian street food snack served from stalls and food carts that can be found on every train station and street corner of the country. It has become immensely popular in the whole Indian subcontinent and it is a big part of desi culture.
For those who are just discovering infinite joys and magic of Indian cuisine, probably the closest word to chaat would be something between a snack and a salad. Salad however is associated with something rather healthy and not very exciting, whereas chaat is the opposite of that. Chaat is always explosively impressive and sensational. It's sweet, sour, spicy and crunchy. You'll get all the experiences in one topsy-turvy bite as ingredients are always combined in a masterful way. Every street vendor has his own recipe with its secret ratio of spices and ingredients.
Types of chaat
There are so many amazing variants of this Indian street food. The original chaat is typically made of fried potato pieces, chickpeas, tangy and salty chaat masala, fresh green coriander leaves, yoghurt and sev (fried chickpea noodles). Other popular variants include samosa chaat, papri chaat, aloo tikki, pain puri and bhel puri. There are so many amazing options but I can tell you one thing - chaat is always fun to prepare! More chaat recipes are coming your way soon, so stay tuned!
Typical ingredients of chaat
Common elements of this Indian street food snack usually include:
- dahi (yoghurt - of course, vegan yoghurt works perfectly fine)
- chopped onions and coriander
- sev (fried chickpea noodles)
- chaat masala (typically consisting of dried mango powder, black salt powder, dried ginger, cumin, chilli and coriander powder
Back to the crispy corn chaat recipe...
What's great about this crispy corn snack is that it's not only vegan but also gluten-free. The recipe calls for (gram) chickpea flour and cornstarch, which are both wheat-free. Enjoy!
What is gram flour and why you should have it in your pantry?
Gram flour (also called besan) is a pulse flour made from finely ground dry chickpeas. It is a staple ingredient in the cuisine of the Indian subcontinent. Why vegans are so crazy about it? Because it's naturally gluten-free and contains a higher proportion of protein than other flours. It's perfect for making satisfying crispy snacks as foods coated in besan, when fried, get extra crispy. You'll find it in your local South Asian grocery store or any bigger supermarket (I usually get mine from my local Tesco Mega Store). If you still think you won't be able to get hold of chickpea flour, you can substitute it with rice flour or plain wheat flour (but then, obviously, the recipe won't be gluten-free anymore).
There is no chaat without chaat masala...
What is chaat masala, exactly? It's a unique and flavoursome blend of spices that turns a boring bowl of ingredients into something magical! It's that wow factor that makes me all the difference! You should be able to find a ready-made chaat masala mix in any South Asian grocery shop or in an Asian (Indian) aisle in any bigger supermarket. It's great to have this blend in your spice cupboard but you know how much I love to make life more complicated! And in this recipe we're going to add all necessary spices separately as :
A. I didn't have chaat masala in my spice cupboard on this particular occasion and
B. Even though it may seem like a bit more effort, I feel like by adding individual spices separately instead of using ready-made spice mixes you'll learn about different spices quicker and get to appreciate each spice on a whole other level. In other words, this will help you become a spice wizard in no-time. So on this particular occasion, we're going to deconstruct chaat masala blend and learn what's exactly in it.
Chaat masala ingredients
Chaat masala blend is seasoning with a very distinctive funky and slightly tangy flavour. It typically consists of mango powder (amchoor or amchur powder), ground black pepper, ginger powder, black salt powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, chilli powder and sometimes asafoetida powder (also called hing).
Mango powder is made from raw, sour, green mangoes. It's a sour spice that adds that amazing, slightly tangy flavour and zing in many Indian street food recipes. I would really make an effort to try to find this spice if you want to get serious about your Indian cooking. It's available in South Asian grocery shops, Indian aisles in bigger supermarkets and of course you can also order it online. The closest substitute for mango powder would be simply lemon or lime juice but this recipe calls for some lemon juice as well anyway, so if you can't get hold of amchur simply omit it. Your corn chaat will be still extremely flavoursome and satisfying!
Another less common ingredient of Indian street food recipes is black salt powder (also known as kala namak). If you're vegan it is likely that you are already very familiar with black salt powder anyway. Indian black salt powder is high in sulphur, which gives a very funky and pungent taste and aroma. It is used in many vegan recipes to add that eggy flavour and smell. If you're into plant-based cooking and if you want to be able to prepare Indian dishes with authentic ingredients, then you should definitely have a jar of kala namak in your spice cupboard. It will come in handy on so many occasions. Tofu scramble? Vegan omlette? Hello?
What is sev?
Sev is fine and crunchy strands of chickpea flour, deep-friend and sometimes spiced. In other words, sev is fried chickpea noodles and it varies in thickness. Thicker, spiced sev can be enjoyed as a standalone vegan snack and fine sev is a popular topping on many chaats. It is great for adding to that final crunch and texture in Indian street food recipes. It makes any snack more fun and visually interesting. Just look at the final result. Since this is a crispy corn chaat recipe, do not despair too much if you can't get hold of these funky chickpea "noodles", you will still be able to enjoy all that crunch in this recipe. But personally, I never leave sev out and I add it to all my Indian street food dishes like there's no tomorrow. If you know, then you know.
This corn chaat is:
- Vegan and gluten-free
- Sweet, spicy, tangy, crispy and spicy at the same time. The ultimate food experience in one topsy-turvy bite.
- Explosively delicious (Literally! All those chaat masala flavours and crunch of crispy corn literally explode in your mouth!)
- A great satisfying snack, perfect at any time of the day (I love having it at tea time, with my masala chai).
- It can be enjoyed for lunch, too.
- Easy and fun to prepare
- Crunchy and satisfying. You will love it whether you are new to the chaat game or you've been looking for more chaat recipe ideas.
Obsessed with Indian food? Be sure to also check these easy vegan recipes:
Vegan Mumbai Toastie - when a toasted cheese sandwich goes to India to find itself...
Cauliflower and broccoli pakoras - what can I say? Cauliflower and broccoli have never tasted so good!
Vegan raita - can't imagine a proper Indian feast without this yoghurt condiment. Could eat it with a spoon. It's so delicious!
Healthy vegan vermicelli kheer - a dairy-free, healthier version of everyone's favourite desi dessert.