WHEN I GO TO A MARKET IN MUMBAI, THE FIRST THING that hits me is the combination of smells and sounds. There’s always somebody making pav bhaji, a Mumbai specialty consisting of a soft, buttered roll served with spicy mashed vegetables, clanking his metal spoons and calling “Come buy pav bhaji!” to attract customers. Other vendors might be making dosas, sending the smell of butter sizzling on the griddle through the air. You can taste the entire country of India in just one market—one stand might serve Mumbai-influenced mutton kebabs while the next one over has pakoras from Delhi. There could be chow mein from Eastern India, chole bhature (spiced chickpeas with puffy fried bread) from the north, and dosas from the south. And there are newer creations, too, like veggie burgers with fries. Everywhere, there are people selling bangles and local artifacts. It’s absolutely the most beautiful chaos on the planet.
To me, the markets are about indulgence. Last spring, when I was in Mumbai, I met up with my college friends at Mohammed Ali Road, a snacker’s paradise near the Chippi Chawl area. It’s one of Mumbai’s most famous khau gallis (“eat streets”) and is lined with food stalls. My friends and I went from one to another, tasting anything that came our way: baida roti (an egg-fried roti with mutton filling), mutton kheema pav (minced meat served with warm buttered buns), and, of course, chaats galore.
Chaat is a category of Indian cuisine that roughly means “snacks.” The word “chaat” is Hindi for “to lick.” This is a literal translation: The flavor combinations of chaats are so amazing that you’re licking your plate, your bowl, your hand! I love that there’s so much variety within chaats.
Chaats and the world of street food that you find at the markets throughout India (pictured on the previous spread) are the inspiration for my newest restaurant, Chaatable, in Nashville, and for my forthcoming cookbook, Chaat: Recipes from the Kitchens, Markets, and Railways of India (Clarkson Potter, October 2020). They can be sweet or savory, crunchy or creamy, spicy or salty … though to tell you the truth, many of my favorites—as in the recipes that follow—are all of those things at once!
MANGO-CASHEW KULFI POPS
Kulfi, a super-creamy, eggless Indian ice cream that often comes in ice pop form, is perfect for eating while wandering around a bazaar. My kulfi recipe involves soaking cashews overnight, draining them, and blending the nuts with condensed milk, mint, and cardamom seeds. The liquid that’s extracted from this cashew mixture gets whisked together with more condensed milk, mango pulp, heavy cream, saffron, and salt, and then frozen into ice pop molds. The sprinkling of pistachios adds a fun crackle and extra nuttiness.
Mango-Cashew Kulfi Pops
ACTIVE 25 MIN; TOTAL 40 MIN, PLUS 16 HR SOAKING AND FREEZING
Canned mango pulp works better in these frozen ice pops than fresh mangoes because of its concentrated flavor, which helps cut through the rich cashews and sweetened condensed milk. Use leftover pulp in the Spicy Mango-Mint Chutney.
½ cup cashews
¾ cup whole milk
⅓ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
8 green cardamom pods, smashed, pods discarded, and seeds reserved
⅛ tsp. saffron threads, plus more for garnish
¾ cup canned mango pulp (such as Deep Kesar Mango Pulp)
¼ cup sweetened condensed milk, plus more if needed
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. chopped raw pistachios
1. Place cashews in a small bowl; add water to cover by 1 inch. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to overnight. Drain; discard soaking liquid. Set cashews aside.
2. Cook milk, mint, and cardamom seeds in a small saucepan over low, stirring occasionally, until mixture just comes to a simmer. Remove from heat; let steep, uncovered, 15 minutes. Transfer mixture to a blender; add drained cashews. Process until gritty but mostly smooth, about 30 seconds.
3. Place saffron threads in a liquid measuring cup; place a fine wire-mesh strainer over cup. Pour warm milk mixture through strainer to measure ¾ cup liquid, pressing on solids to extract liquid. (If mixture yields less than ¾ cup, add condensed milk as needed to total ¾ cup.) Discard solids. Whisk together mango pulp, condensed milk, heavy cream, salt, and saffron-milk mixture in a bowl until thoroughly combined. (There should be about 2 cups total.)
4. Divide mango mixture evenly among 6 (3-ounce) ice pop molds; sprinkle with pistachios. Insert 1 craft stick into each pop. Freeze at least 8 hours or up to overnight. To serve, rinse ice pop molds under cold water to release pops from molds.
MAKE AHEAD Ice pops may be frozen in molds up to 2 weeks.
NOTE Canned mango pulp is available at Indian markets or online at amazon.com.
SPRING PEA CHAAT WITH LEMON RAITA
One of my favorite chaats is muttar chaat, a savory, crunchy pea salad with lots of different textures and flavors. (“Muttar” means peas.) I put my own spin on traditional muttar chaat with this three-pea version that includes sugar snap peas, snow peas, and shelled English peas, all cooked together until tender. The peas are topped with a tangy lemon raita and a spicy, herbaceous mango-mint chutney. The tartness and sweetness of the toppings are what make this chaat really fun.
Spring Pea Chaat With Lemon Raita
ACTIVE 45 MIN; TOTAL 50 MIN
This fresh and crunchy chaat stars a trio of spring peas punched up with a tempered mixture of whole cumin seeds, mustard seeds, chiles, and ginger. The tart lemon raita brings a welcome cooling element; spoon the extra over rice, naan, or fresh fruit.
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 tsp. grated lemon zest plus 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¾ tsp. granulated sugar
¼ tsp. kosher salt
SPRING PEA CHAAT
8 oz. fresh English peas
4 oz. fresh sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved on an angle
4 oz. fresh snow peas, trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
½ tsp. brown mustard seeds
1 Tbsp. grated peeled fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. chaat masala (such as MDH Chunky Chat Masala)
1 small fresh serrano chile, stemmed and finely chopped (unseeded)
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
3 Tbsp. Spicy Mango-Mint Chutney (recipe follows)
Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
Pea shoots, for garnish
1. Make the lemon raita: Stir together yogurt, lemon zest and juice, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator until ready to use, up to 3 days.
2. Make the spring pea chaat: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Add English peas to boiling water; cook 4 minutes. Add snap peas; cook 2 minutes. Add snow peas; cook until all peas are crisp-tender, about 30 seconds. Using a spider, remove pea mixture from boiling water, and plunge into ice water; let cool 3 minutes. Drain well; transfer to a medium bowl.
3. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high. Add cumin seeds and mustard seeds; toast, stirring constantly, until very fragrant, 40 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in ginger, chaat masala, and chile to form a thick paste. Remove from heat; add to pea mixture in bowl, and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate, uncovered, until chilled, about 10 minutes.
4. Transfer spring pea chaat to a serving platter; drizzle with spicy mango-mint chutney and ¼ cup lemon raita. Garnish with cilantro leaves and pea shoots.
MAKE AHEAD Lemon raita may be covered and chilled up to 3 days.
WINE Bright, herbal, Indian white: 2017 Sula Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc
MASALA PANEER KATHI ROLLS
When you buy a kathi roll—usually a kebab in a fresh flatbread—at a market in Mumbai, it’s wrapped in foil and meant to be eaten on the go: a true street food. The best part about a kathi roll is the contrast in textures, which are highlighted in my vegetarian version. There’s soft, warmed cheese in a spiced yogurt marinade, charred bell peppers and onion, and a cool, crunchy, tangy cabbage salad. It’s all held together by the wrap: a flaky, chewy, still-toasty-from-the-oven paratha flatbread.
Masala Paneer Kathi Rolls
ACTIVE 50 MIN; TOTAL 1 HR 20 MIN
Thicker than tortillas but thinner than naan, flaky parathas are the perfect vehicles for these vegetarian wraps filled with warmed paneer, crunchy cabbage salad, roasted marinated vegetables, and sweet-spicy mango-mint chutney. Assemble them for your guests, or let them roll their own. For tips on sourcing ingredients, see “Maneet’s Pantry” below.
¾ cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic
1 Tbsp. finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 tsp. garam masala (such as MDH)
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. chaat masala (such as MDH Chunky Chat Masala)
½ tsp. ground turmeric
1 medium-size red onion, sliced
1 medium-size red bell pepper, sliced
8 oz. paneer (fresh Indian cheese) or firm tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup very thinly sliced red onion
1 cup very thinly sliced green cabbage
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. jaggery powder or dark brown sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
6 (6-inch) frozen parathas, whole-wheat flour tortillas, or white pita rounds
6 Tbsp. Spicy Mango-Mint Chutney (recipe follows)
Chaat masala, for serving
1. Make the filling: Stir together yogurt, garlic, ginger, garam masala, lemon juice, chaat masala, and turmeric in a medium bowl until combined; measure ¼ cup yogurt marinade into a separate small bowl. Add onion and bell pepper to remaining marinade in medium bowl; toss to coat. Add paneer to ¼ cup marinade in small bowl; toss to coat. Cover each bowl; refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 500°F with oven rack 6 inches from heat source. Spread marinated vegetable mixture in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast in preheated oven until mixture is just charred in spots, about 12 minutes, stirring once halfway through cook time. Remove from oven. Increase oven temperature to broil. Stir marinated paneer into vegetable mixture on baking sheet. Return to oven, and broil until paneer is cooked through and vegetables are crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl; toss with salt. Cover to keep warm; set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 200°F.
3. Make the cabbage salad: Rinse onion under cold water; drain. Stir together onion, cabbage, lime juice, jaggery, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside.
4. Cook parathas according to package directions. Transfer parathas to a baking sheet; place in preheated oven to keep warm.
5. Assemble the rolls: Remove 1 paratha from baking sheet. Place an 8-inch square piece of aluminum foil on a work surface; place paratha on foil so that paratha is half on foil and half on work surface. Spread 1 tablespoon spicy mango-mint chutney evenly over paratha. Spread ⅓ cup cabbage salad in center of paratha; top with about ⅓ cup filling. Sprinkle lightly with chaat masala. Roll up paratha burrito-style, folding bottom up and sides in toward center, using foil to secure. Repeat process using remaining parathas, chutney, cabbage salad, filling, and chaat masala.
WINE Fruit-forward, juicy Pinot Noir: 2018 J. Lohr Estates Falcon’s Perch
NOTE Look for parathas in the freezer section at your local Indian or Asian market.
You do not get strawberry-rhubarb chaat in India—this is completely my take on it. This sweet and spicy salad adds several other flavors into the mix, like mint leaves, fresh ginger, and red chile powder. The rhubarb chutney gives sweetness. The masala boondi, a puffed chickpea cereal, gives crunchiness. When possible, I like to use half red strawberries and half white strawberries to provide another layer of sweetness (and an additional pop of color), but the key is to use the freshest ones available.
ACTIVE 35 MIN; TOTAL 1 HR 45 MIN
Chaat is no single dish or recipe; it encompasses a range of snacks with a riot of textures and flavors. Here, tart rhubarb plays off the sweetness of strawberries; puffed chickpea cereal (boondi) delivers that essential crunch.
1 lb. fresh rhubarb stalks
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1½ tsp. panch phoron (Indian whole five-spice blend) (such as Swad Panch Puran)
½ cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp. white vinegar
½ tsp. Kashmiri red chile powder or Hungarian hot paprika
¼ tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 cups halved fresh strawberries
1 Tbsp. roughly torn fresh mint, plus small mint leaves, for garnish
1½ tsp. fresh lime juice (optional)
¼ cup masala boondi (such as Anand) or ¼ cup crisp rice cereal (such as Rice Krispies)
¼ tsp. chaat masala (such as MDH Chunky Chat Masala)
1. Thinly slice about half of 1 rhubarb stalk into ⅛-inch-thick half-moons to yield 1 cup. Set aside. Chop remaining rhubarb stalks into ½-inch pieces.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add panch phoron; cook, stirring often, until sizzling and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in chopped rhubarb, brown sugar, ginger, vinegar, and chile powder. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is jammy and reduced to about 1⅓ cups, about 25 minutes. Stir in salt. Transfer chutney mixture to a bowl. Let cool, then refrigerate until ready to use.
3. Toss together strawberries and torn mint in a medium bowl; if strawberries are sweet, add lime juice. Season to taste with salt.
4. To serve, spread 1 tablespoon chutney in a 4-inch circle on each of 4 plates. Arrange strawberry mixture evenly on top of chutney; top with rhubarb half-moons and masala boondi. Sprinkle with chaat masala; garnish with mint leaves.
MAKE AHEAD Chutney can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 5 days.
BEER Tart Belgian lambic beer: Lindemans Framboise
NOTE For more information on the spices and ingredients, see “Maneet’s Pantry” below.
Mumbai is known for its pav bhaji. “Pav” is the roll, and “bhaji” is the mixture of vegetables. In Mumbai, pav bhaji vendors cook the bhaji on a big griddle. They toast the bread in a dollop of butter to caramelize the outside and garnish the platter with masala, cilantro, and onions. At Chaatable, we make our own pav, but store-bought works just as well. Our bhaji is a mixture of seasonal vegetables, like cauliflower, cabbage, green peppers, peas, potatoes, and tomatoes, plus lots of spices. And lots of butter.
TOTAL 1 HR 10 MIN; SERVES 6
Pav bhaji is a classic Indian street food of a lightly spicy mashed-vegetable-and-tomato sauce seasoned with warming spices, serrano chiles, and ginger and served with buttery toasted rolls. It makes a satisfying snack and is hearty enough for a vegetarian main.
1½ cups coarsely chopped cauliflower florets
1½ cups chopped green bell pepper
1½ cups chopped carrots
1 cup chopped green cabbage
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen English peas
1 cup chopped peeled russet potato
6½ cups water, divided, plus more if needed
2 Tbsp. pav bhaji masala (such as MDH), divided
1 Tbsp. plus ¾ tsp. kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
1¼ cups unsalted butter (10 oz.), divided
1½ cups chopped red onion, plus more for garnish
1 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic
1 Tbsp. finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh serrano chile
½ cup tomato paste
2 tsp. Kashmiri red chile powder or Hungarian hot paprika
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish
12 Soft dinner rolls (such as Martin’s Dinner Potato Rolls or King’s Hawaiian Original Hawaiian Sweet Rolls), split, buttered, and toasted
1. Place cauliflower, bell pepper, carrots, cabbage, peas, potato, 6 cups water, 1 tablespoon pav bhaji masala, and 1 tablespoon salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to medium; simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes. Drain; set aside.
2. Melt ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons butter in a large, deep skillet over medium-high until butter is bubbling. Add onion, garlic, and ginger; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, serrano chile, and remaining ½ cup water; cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, red chile powder, and remaining 1 tablespoon pav bhaji masala; cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is the consistency of chunky tomato sauce, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add drained cauliflower mixture; mash using a potato masher until mixture resembles the consistency of chili, adding water as needed to loosen.
3. Stir lemon juice, cilantro, and remaining ¾ teaspoon salt into vegetable mixture in skillet. Cook over medium, stirring often, until mixture is warmed through, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Divide among 6 bowls; top each with 1 tablespoon butter. Garnish with additional red onion and cilantro, and serve with dinner rolls.
MAKE AHEAD Bhaji vegetable mixture can be covered and chilled up to 2 days.
WINE Fresh, zesty rosé: 2018 Emiliana Natura
Spicy Mango-Mint Chutney
TOTAL 15 MIN; MAKES 1 CUP
Fiery hot with a balancing sweetness from the mango, this versatile condiment adds a welcome punch to both the Masala Paneer Kathi Rolls and the Spring Pea Chaat with Lemon Raita.
1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup packed fresh mint leaves
½ cup canned mango pulp (such as Deep Alphonso Mango Pulp)
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. water
2 small fresh serrano chiles, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
1½ tsp. chopped peeled fresh ginger
½ tsp. kosher salt
Place cilantro, mint, mango pulp, lime juice, 2 tablespoons water, chiles, ginger, and salt in a blender. Process on low speed, gradually increasing speed to high, until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a small airtight container; press a piece of plastic wrap on mixture. Cover with a lid; store in refrigerator until ready to use.
MAKE AHEAD Chutney can be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 days.
Chef and Chopped judge Maneet Chauhan co-owns four restaurants in Nashville: Chaatable, Chauhan Ale & Masala House, Tànsuŏ, and The Mockingbird.(PHOTOGRAPHY: LINDA XIAO)
FLY TRAVEL NONSTOP
Delta Airlines recently started offering daily nonstop flights between New York and Mumbai, joining United Airlines and Air India in serving Mumbai from New York City.
STAY SOHO HOUSE
Between a rooftop perfect for watching sunsets and a prime location overlooking Juhu Beach, all housed within a stunning 11-story townhouse, Soho House is a fun, chic place from which to explore Mumbai. (Rooms from $90, sohohousemumbai.com)
WHERE TO EAT THE BOMBAY CANTEEN
Chef Floyd Cardoz’s Bombay Canteen is a hybrid café and bar that serves local classics and great cocktails. (Pro tip: Check out Cardoz’s other Mumbai restaurant, too, a Goan and Portuguese spot called O Pedro.) (thebombaycanteen.com)
Masque, one of Food & Wine’s and Travel + Leisure’s 2019 World’s Best Restaurants, offers a 10-course chef’s tasting menu. Chef Prateek Sadhu, a Noma and Alinea alum, cooks food rooted in Indian flavors with a focus on Kashmiri cuisine.(masquerestaurant.com)
SHREE THAKER BHOJANALAY
Shree Thaker Bhojanalay, another spot on our World’s Best Restaurants list in 2019, has been serving Gujarati vegetarian food since 1945. Go here for all sorts of chutneys, breads, and veg-centric dishes, and come ready to eat. (facebook.com/ShreeThaker1945)
WHERE TO SNACK
CHEMBUR KHAU GALLI
Punjabi and Sindhi food are the draw at this khau galli (“eat street”) near Ghatkopar East. I go for kulchas, or leavened flat-breads, and dal pakwan, which are chickpeas with fried bread.
I head to the city beach for the bhel puris—savory chaats usually made of puffed rice and vegetables.
Near Ghatkopar railway station, I love to order a jeera masala soda, which is infused with Indian spices.
MOHAMMED ALI ROAD
This bustling avenue in a Muslim community is the place to sample India’s meat-heavy Mughlai cuisine. It especially comes to life after sunset during the month of Ramadan (this year, April 23–May 23).
SNDT TO CROSS MAIDAN KHAU GALLI
Between Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women’s University and Cross Maidan, a public park, is this street market with the best Bombay sandwiches (an epic grilled sandwich with vegetables and chutney).
This market in the old Kalbadevi neighborhood specializes in Gujarati food. I love the kachoris, which are savory pastries stuffed with lentils or peas.
For making these recipes at home, Maneet Chauhan keeps the following ingredients at hand. In Indian cuisine, “masala” refers to a blend of spices. While many chefs and home cooks prepare custom masalas, MDH is a high-quality brand; look for their spice blends at Indian markets or at amazon.com.
PANCH PHORON: A blend of seeds, including mustard, nigella, cumin, fennel, and fenugreek
CHAAT MASALA: A powdered blend of spices often sprinkled over chaat for a finishing tart, sweet, and spicy punch
KASHMIRI CHILE POWDER: A mild chile powder
PAV BHAJI MASALA: A mixture of a multitude of spices, including coriander seeds, ground chile, and mango powder
GARAM MASALA: A popular blend of warm spices that often includes cumin, cinnamon, and cloves
PANEER: A fresh Indian cheese with a texture similar to firm tofu
BOONDI: A crunchy cereal and snack made from puffed chickpea flour
JAGGERY: A dark, unrefined form of sugar made from palm or sugar cane
MANGO PULP: Pureed canned mango; Kesar mango pulp is slightly sweeter than Alphonso mango pulp, which has a delicate, rich flavor.
FOOD STYLING: TORIE COX; PROP STYLING: THOM DRIVER ■