Shakarkandi Chaat

Sharkandi Chaat. One of the healthiest chaat there could be 

Warm sweet potatoes tossed with chaat masala, roasted cumin, tangy black salt, green chillies and squirts of fresh lemon. I like to steam the sweet potatoes than roast them. They stay so soft  that way. Followed by a drizzle of smoky sweet date syrup or sugar. A scatter of fresh cilantro & pomegranate arils and done. You can add cut up apples or cucumbers as well if you wish. It’s gluten free and can be easily made vegan.

A winter must have from the streets of Delhi. I could smell the charred shakarkand from a mile away. As you draw near to the thela(cart), a whiff of burnt charcoal mixed with intense incense hits your senses. The vendor takes his time to mix up the bowl, meaning you get to witness each step of turning simple coal roasted yams into deliciousness. The yams were not orange there, but tasted same, tossed with sharp, tangy spices and generous heat of chillies. Each cart has his own recipe. The one we always bought from threw in cut up kamrak (the mouth puckering star fruit, anyone remembers?) to balance the sweet – spicy. Yummm. Best.

Chutneys or sev but that’s not traditional. If you use sendha namak(rock salt), this is so perfect for the upcoming fasting  season. 

Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 2 sweet potatoes (about 250gms)
  • 1 tbsp ghee (or any vegan cooking oil)
  • 1 tbsp chaat masala
  • 1/2 tbsp hot red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 2 tsp roasted cumin powder 
  • 2-3 green chillies(adjust to tolerance) 
  • 1.5 tsp kala namak(Indian black salt) 
  • Table Salt to taste 
  • 1 -2 tbsp lemon juice (adjust to taste) 
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils( or chopped cucumbers or apples
  • 1 tbsp date syrup 
  • Fresh chopped cilantro leaves 

Method

Wash and scrub clean the sweet potato skins. In a cast iron pan, add the potatoes along with 1 cup water. Cover the pan and let the potatoes steam. Check periodically to make sure that the water has not evaporated, keep on tossing the potatoes and add little water as needed. We don’t want to boil them. Steaming makes them retain their moisture and flavor. You can roast them as well if you wish but make sure the retain their shape and are not too mushy.

After about 20-22 mins the potatoes will be fork tender. Cool down and while still warm, peel the skin. Cube the sweet potatoes. 

In a heavy pan/cast iron pan, ghee and add the sweet potatoes, sprinkle a few pinches of salt and toss them around in the hot pan for 3-4 minutes to lightly sauté but don’t crisp them. 

Mix the sweet potatoes with all the spices as listed, adjusting to taste. Add the pomegranate arils and cilantro. Drizzle with extra syrup and serve warm. 

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