Spicy Corn Chaat With Tomato Chutney
In India, “chaat” is a word describing a category of food that hits almost every component that makes something crave-able—sweet, sour, tangy, spicy, and crunchy. Chaat is commonly a snack but is satisfying enough to take the place of lunch or dinner. This well-known street food can be served hot or cold and is typically sold roadside or from food carts. Chaat is incredibly popular not only in India, but in South Asia, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh. This is my modern, slightly Americanized, spicy corn chaat with a flavorful tomato chutney and it is completely addictive.
How chaat got its name is somewhat unclear. Some say the word “chaat” originated from its literal meaning “to lick“. It was so delicious that people licked their fingers (and the bowl) made of peepal leaves, called “donas”, in which it is often served. Others think it originated from the term “chatpati” (meaning tangy). However, both of these are merely speculation.
Essential Chaat Elements
Some say there are over 500 different kinds of chaat, each with proper methods for how to actually eat them. But at its core, one thing with all chaat dishes remains the same: each chaat is a combination of a five essential elements, all of which contribute to creating an addictive blending of flavors and textures:
- Base: This is usually a carb
- Sauces: Commonly, cilantro-mint chutney and tamarind chutney
- Crunch: Often spicy fried potato or chickpeas
- Vegetables: Frequently, onions and tomatoes
- Umami: Almost all chaat includes a chaat masala
Summer is corn season and although this is not a traditional chaat, it’s a flavorful fusion of Indian and Mexican elements I think you’ll adore. This easy-to-make spicy corn chaat makes a fantastic accompaniment to almost any warm-weather meal you can think up.
Spicy Corn Chaat With Tomato Chutney
For the Chutney:
- 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 dried red chile (such as chiles de árbol)
- 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, cracked
- 2 whole cloves
- 6 plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Chaat:
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 6 ears fresh sweet corn, shucked
- 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1/2 cup red onion, minced
- 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled
- For the chutney: In a medium saucepan, add the oil and place over medium-high. When hot, but not smoking, add the ginger, chile, peppercorns, and cloves. Cook, stirring frequently, until
the ginger is soft and the spices are fragrant about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil, stirring and breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have broken down and the sauce has thickened, about 15-20 minutes.
- Allow the chutney to cool slightly. Next, pour the mixture into a food processor, such as a Cuisinart, fitted with a blade attachment. Process on high until smooth, about 1 minute. Next, strain the mixture through a strainer into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
- For the Corn Chaat: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, cumin, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix until smooth and set aside.
- Place a large cast-iron
skillet over high heat until smoking. Add the corn, in one layer, and cook, without
moving, until kernels are slightly charred, about 4 minutes. Stir in the olive oil, remaining 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and remaining
1/2 teaspoon salt and mix well to blend. Add the cilantro, mint, and red onion, and toss to combine.
- To serve, Place corn mixture in a serving bowl, and top with chutney and yogurt mixture. Sprinkle the sliced jalapeño and Cotija on top.