Sharkandi Chaat. One of the healthiest chaat from the streets of north india. Roasted sweet potato cubes sautéed lightly in ghee/oil and then mixed with spices, pomegranate seeds and drizzle of date syrup. Its cozy, delicious and heathy.
This chaat is a healthier alternative to aloo chaat. Warm sweet potatoes tossed with chaat masala, roasted cumin, tangy black salt, green chillies and squirts of fresh lemon. Mom used to steam the sweet potatoes but I roast them. They stay so soft and the flavor is not diluted that way and its easier. You can use tamarind chutney or maple instead of date syrup, the sweet potatoes are already sweet but a smoky syrup gives a push to their sweetness. 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.
How to make Shakarkandi Chaat?
I simply begin my roasting the sweet potatoes. I remember mom used to steam them in very less water(else the potatoes lose their taste, she said) in an iron kadai, I now feel that the method is tedious because it needed tending in terms of water level and moving around the sweet potatoes many times so that its cooked on all sides.
I simply wrap them in aluminum foil and roast at 400F for about 35-40 minutes until they are fork tender but not falling part. Peel the potatoes, cut them into cubes and them mix them with chaat spices and rest of the ingredients.
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(street vendor 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.
You can add chutneys or chaat sev but that's not traditional. Here the main taste is that of sweet potatoes and adding too many ingredients takes the taste away. If you use sendha namak(rock salt), this is so perfect for the upcoming fasting season.
Shakarkandi(Sweet Potato) Chaat
- 2 (250g) sweet potato
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chaat masala (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
- 2-3 hai bird green chillies(adjust to tolerance), chopped
- 1.5 teaspoon kala namak(Indian black salt)
- Table salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 400F. Wash and scrub clean the sweet potato skins. Wrap individually in aluminum foil and roast for 40-45 minutes until fork tender but not too soft.
- Once roasted, let cool for a bit 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 saute 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 date syrup and serve warm.