Sunday, October 3, 2010

tamatar ki chaat | the famous tamatari chaat of Banaras and some pictures from dilli haat..

I know I know many of you are waiting for the tamatar ki chaat as I promised. A stupid dengue (the simple kind thankfully) was keeping me from making this wonderful chaat. After a week of khichri, soup and sandwich kinda food I am back to my pleasures of cooking.

Red luscious tomatoes were waiting to be pulped, mashed and thrashed into a flavorful chaat which reminds me of my just married days. Yes it was during our dating days and after the wedding that Arvind introduced me to the varied chaats of Banaras otherwise I would have been deprived of this heaven.

On one of the occasions when we ate this tamatar ki chaat at the Sankat mochan mod (the turn towards sankat mochan mandir in banaras) I watched the chaat wala pulping the tomatoes and mixing ingredients to make a yummy dona (a serving dish made out of leaves) of this tamatari (it's also called tamatari or just tamatar), came back home and made an exact version of home made tamatari. This time I guess I made it after years, although I have been planning to make it for a long time. Not only because I had a few people requesting for it, also because whenever I ate this tamatari in the past couple of years in banaras, I found to my utter disgust that it has transformed a lot, read deteriorated.

It has got commercialized I guess. Yes, believe me the tamatar ki chaat in those days (12 years ago) was much simpler and more tasteful. The thelawala would mash a couple of already roasting tikkis with a couple of tomatoes on the giant tawa, mix some chutneys, sprinkle some tidbits and serve you the most simple looking yet uniquely flavored chaat, with a rich flavor of tomatoes, you would inevitably end up asking for one more helping.

Whenever I find this chaat here in Delhi, being showcased in those street food festivals, the tamatar ki chaat is displayed separately on a smaller tawa, giving an impression like pav bhaji, a separate pot of gravy waiting to be ladled into the tomato pulp, some dalda (hydrogenated vegetable fat) is ladled into the mix to make it tastier as they claim (I actually asked them), resulting into a thick layer of 'ghee' floating over the chaat and to top it all, now a days it is served in plastic or styrofoam bowls. Enough reasons for me to feel disgusted ...

The Dilli Haat experience of this tamatar chaat was better this time, taste wise (we could ignore the fat layer of dalda floating )...see how it is labeled as tamatar...

The pulped up tomatoes and other ingredients (they had some peas too) are cooking on the tawa and the gravy as they call it (made with khoya, dry fruits and spices  with a thick layer of dalda as you can see...

 And here is the plate of tamatari for us to dig into...

 On the display (as you see here) it looks like the bhaji of the pav bhaji combo, as it is a mashed chaat and is cooked on a tawa. But the similarity ends here as this a completely different flavor, rich tomato, some dry fruits and some khoya and and lot more subtle flavours.

And it is a standalone chaat, no bread or pav or papdi is added, just some miniature namak paare, we like some finely chopped onions and you are set. This is my home made plate of tamatar ki chaat...

I had to make the miniature namak paare first, store bought namak paare can be used but I did not have any and as I did not have any maida too, I made them with whole wheat flour.

3 tbsp of whole wheat flour 2 tsp of lemon juice , 1 tsp of oil and salt to taste  ...
a stiff dough was made using a little water , rolled out on the chakla ( rolling board ) cut in miniature squares and deep fried on medium heat ....

other ingredients to start with...
( serves two hungry souls )
potatoes medium sized 2 nos. ( boiled and peeled )
fully ripe large juicy tomatoes 4 nos.( the best quality you can lay your hands on )
cashew chopped 2 tbsp
raisins 20 nos.
makhane( lotus seeds ) 10-12 nos.
green chillies finely chopped 1 tbsp
ginger finely chopped 1.5 tbsp
red chilly powder 1 tsp
black pepper powder 1 tsp
garam masala powder 1 tsp ( i used my homemade one which is a mix of black n green cardamom , cinnamon, kababchini , shahjeera , cloves , star anise and nutmeg )
milk powder 2 tbsp ( use khoya if available , same quantity )
ghee 2 tbsp ( i used less , you can feel free to be like the chaat walas )
Imli ki sonth wali chutny 2 tbsp ( if you don't have this chutny , use a tbsp of thick tamarind pulp , 1/2 tsp of dry ginger powder and 2 tsp of sugar at the indicated time )
lemon juice 2 tsp
finely chopped onions for garnish ( optional )
finely chopped green coriander leaves ( i did not have and am not using them raw in this season either)


I used an iron kadai for that taste of chaatwalas (otherwise too I prefer cooking in iron or cast iron kadais)..

Chop the tomatoes in small cubes and keep aside.

Mix the milk powder , garam masala powder and red chilly powder with a tbsp or two of water to make a pasteand keep aside. This step is not required if using khoya.

Mash the potatoes, add salt to taste and 1 tsp of black pepper powder, 1/2 tsp of green chillies and 1/2 tsp of chopped ginger. Mix well and shape a large tikki with the mash. Keep aside.

Heat a tbsp of ghee in the kadai and throw in 1/2 tbsp of green chillies, 1 tbsp of chopped ginger and the dry fruits, fry for a minute ....and then add the milk powder mix to the frying mixture... If using khoya, add the khoya, garam masala n red chilly powder now...

Fry till the mixture changes color and is almost dry , add 1/2 cup of water and boil to get a brownish gravy...reserve the gravy into a bowl....

Now in the same kadai , add another tbsp of ghee and place the largish potao tikki to let it brown on one side, flip when browned .... this step I have incorporated because i saw the chaat wala make it this way when I first ate it . And the browning of the alu tikki this way ensures a very unique earthy, smoky chaat flavor to the tamatari....

Now cover the frying tikki with chopped tomatoes and cover to cook for a while, slide the flat ladle under the tikki beneath and flip so that the tikki comes on top and the tomatoes are getting roasted in direct contact with the iron kadai... the potato tikki is nicely browned on both sides and you will get it's flavor in the finished chaat....

Mix and smash the tikki now and fry the mixture thrashing the tomatoes to make a smooth yet textured chaat ....Takes about 2-3 minutes ..

Now is the time to add the gravy , and the imli ki chutny (or use the substitutes instead) and lemon juice (optional)... mix it again and fry for another minute mixing it like a pro....this is the time you will start getting that tamatar ki chaat aroma........

Empty the contents into a steel dish (for that desi feel) , garnish with the miniature namak paare, green coriander if using and as we like it here , some chopped onions .........

As I told you the chaat will be a different flavor from any of the chaats you have ever tried, the nuts stand out, the raisins are just too good when they come in a mouthful. It is a hot-sweet-sour and savory chaat where a rich taste of tomatoes is accentuated by tamarind chutny with a very mild hint of khoya (if you know it's added , otherwise it just adds richness) We added some more of those namak paare while eating and got transported to the good old days.........

Last but not the least, a picture of the folk dancers performing at the Dilli Haat entrace ...

Enjoy the chaat and the Dilli haat as we saw it.....

I did not click any more pictures as we had decided to visit the haat just to try out the new metro line on that route ... ooh it's so convenient now to get there and I loved the underground exit leading towards the INA market. They have displayed beautiful traditional textile crafts of different states.. worth watching .....


  1. wow..really intresting've done a good job..never heard or had this chaat..drooing ! looks inviting..

  2. looks so tasty sorry its been a while lovely Sangeeta hugs Rebecca

  3. Gosh, you put so much work into this post. Not just to give us the recipe and an image of the finished dish but to also take step-by-step photographs. Thank you for your hard work.

  4. Looks like delhi has undergone a lot of changes in the past few years. I've never had this chaat, but I'm sooooooooo tempted to try it now. Do you visit the trade fair as well(pragati maidan)....try the pyaaz ki kachori at the rajasthan pavillion. To die for. (and if you can teach me how to make it, I'll be forever grateful!)

  5. never had such a version of tamatar ki chaat but sounds so delicious! loved the street snaps too.

  6. Thank you lovely ladies... try it once and i bet it will become your favorite chaat. are welcome to have a plate..:)

    Rebecca .. yes it's been a long time , but you are always welcome ...i keep reading your posts too n i know you had a great time here in India.

    Cynthia...Yes uploading and arranging the pictures took more time than making the chaat itself :) but the effort is worth as many of my real life friends have been pestering me with this.

    GB...Oh dear saddi Dilli is changing very fast . Yes i go every year to the trade fair n this time too i am waiting , i make the rajasthani pyaz kachori n love it too but for 'that flavor' you want i will go n have a taste of the one you suggested n then will post the recipe so that you get 'that' taste ....

    PJ ...these are pictures of a chaat stall at Dilli Haat..

  7. yuuuuuuummmmmm, am already drooling... My all time favourite. Thanks a ton.... Next time VNS jaaiyega toh Dina ki chaat zaroor try kariyega... Am definitely going to try this one...

  8. Simply Delectable!!!!liked your step by step Presentation.I've heard of this but never made it though...

  9. oh sangita, u have loads of patience to make all these, i dunno if i ever have even an iota ofwhat u have hats off to u greatt.

  10. Nothing great Nirupama.... it's just that the husband wants freedom from the regular daal-chawal roti-subzi meals and i make such things for a meal , this one for a weekend lunch so quite manageable...

  11. looks so good. why dont u make it for 3 hungry souls(me as well) -:)

  12. i have never heard of tamatar chaat. looking at the pics and a nice presentation, I think I should try the tamatar chaat at home.

    You really have a lot of patience. i could not even think of making namak pare and then making the chaat. i will just end up making namak pare... thats it ;-)

    i really appreciate the effort you put in your posts and pics. the posts are informative and the pics are illustrative. it helps people like me who do not know much about the central indian cuisine.

    by the way, i will soon try your baingan fry recipe in mustard paste and will let you know.

  13. @ devasena... i shall make it for 4 hungry souls , why didn't you include your husband haan !!

    @ Dassana ...this kind of patience does not come very often to me :) Although i enjoy cooking good food for the two of us. All those pictures are worth posting especially if they are appreciated by people who are new for this kind of flavors , thank you for the generous comment. Do tell me whenever you try the recipes.

  14. Hi Sangeeta presently a site is been created on Voice Against is the link.... be glad if you join us....

  15. Thanks for bringing back the Dilli Haat memories. Your chaat will keep me craving for it all day.

  16. i thought abt it dear, while posting this comment..feeding one humble hungry soul like me itself will make u toil in the kitchen all day..

    we both have big mouth and bigger tummies

    Nevertheless we dont want to disappoint u, let me know the ur address, we will be there. Both man and woman.

  17. Dear Sangeeta, Thanks for joining the VAP blog....I am sorry for the url inconvinience you faced.....I can understand what you felt..even the same thing happened with me too...the site is been created therefore where we all can work together...we are welcoming posts on plagiarism related write ups and readers expereince on it to post on the are welcome too....

  18. This is such a wonderful blog!!! All those fingerlicking recipes!!! WOW !!!
    This tamatar chaat looks really really yummy. I'm sorry but you mentioned Delhi Haat.... what does haat mean?
    ~ Vinita

  19. Thank you Vinita..
    Dilli Haat is a craft bazar where artisans and craftsmen come from all over the country and sell their merchandise. Inside the haat premises there is a food plaza too where you get authentic food from all the Indian states.

  20. wow now theres a metro to dilli haat and ina...
    its so convenient now,..;-)
    chat looks so yum
    wish u nd ur family happy dussehra,...

  21. It doesn't only look yummm, but tastes also um-um :) Made it during the weekend, it was delicious... I can't thank u enough for this recipe, as I don't have to wait to visit VNS to have this chaat now :). loads of luv for posting this .....

  22. Thank you pooja ...and you can always tweak it to your taste...

  23. Thankyou for posting, now could send us some of it!!!
    Sangeeta, thankyou for sharing this recipe!

  24. wow sangeeta!! never ever had tamatar ki chaat guess I have missed something amazing in my life. i can almost taste it, medley of flavours and texture. i love namak paaras. and yes i miss my monthly forays to dilli haat!! thanks :)

  25. thank you sangeeta g for sharing this wonderful recipe, i only once in my life had tasted tamatar ki chaat at the age of 13 or 14.... ever since i wanted to have it... now after more than 10 years my dream is fulfilled, all thanks to you. by the way i used cheese-lings instead of namak paaras, it turned out to be good... i also gave a miss to the makhanas but added almonds.... so the end result was delicious.. keep up the good work. god bless you.

  26. I am so glad to hear that you made it Jimmy...and i can guess after these many years of having tasted this chaat how happy you must have been to try this...reading your cheeselings replacement i feel like making it again , the husband would be so happy i know.
    I will never replace the makhanas with anything , they provide a nice texture and taste to the finished chaat...try that once you would know why i say this.

  27. Dear sangeeta
    Came here from Poonam's blog...hummm..only you can make such elaborate chat...great!

  28. Thanks Ushnish...this is the foodie in me that makes me do all this elaborate cooking once in a while....otherwise i have no patience for many things in life :)

  29. Thank you for the recipe, i came back from banaras yesterday and thought of searching for tamatri i has there and wow! i found it. will soon make this.

  30. yesterday i came back from Banaras and was looking for the yummy tamatri i had there, wow! i found it i will sure try it, thankyou.

  31. Thank you for the recipe, i came back from banaras yesterday and thought of searching for tamatri i has there and wow! i found it. will soon make this.

  32. Thank you for the recipe, i came back from banaras yesterday and thought of searching for tamatri i has there and wow! i found it. will soon make this.

  33. 2 years on since the last comment and this remains a recipe I return to with glee since I discovered it. When I'm lazy, I buy gathiya instead of making the nimki or namak pare.

    1. So glad to hear the feedback on this tamatari chaat of Banaras. Thank you :-)

  34. Hi Sangeeta,

    I am a Delihite but married to a family in Varanasi, since last 2 years. So, Varanasi is my sasural now. I have heard a lot about the tamatar chaat there. Your recipe looks delicious. But if I skip the khoya part, do you think it will still be a tasty chaat.

    1. Hi Kamayani, I think the khoya adds a different dimension to the tamatar chaat but you can try without it too. You can balance with some cashew paste in that case.

  35. Replies
    1. Sorry for the confusion Nandita Amin. Makhana is added just after ghee is heated and green chillies etc are added, as shown in the first picture of the step by step procedure. I hope it is clear now.

  36. Big fan here Saengeeta. It is 2AM here and just before going to sleep reading up some inspiration here.

    A few years ago when I was in Banaras I could not taste this (being visitor to my nanihal, had been stuffed and could not take anything more), but did notice that some vendors add this label full of rasa on top - when serving. Wondering what that is for.

    1. Thank you :-) That rasa is different at every chaat wala and you will get as many tamatar chaats in Banaras in as many places you visit. Try this version of mine you would possibly like it too.
      Keep in touch.