Sweet Potatoes Add A Honeyed Twist To Indian Chaat

Street food is a major part of Indian culture, and all of the tasty fried snacks you can find on the streets of India fall under one all-encompassing category: chaat. A popular fried foundation for chaat is potatoes. Dishes like papri chaat and aloo chaat begin by frying earthy, savory potatoes, then tossing them in a complex mix of spices and aromatics and topping them with numerous ingredients like chickpeas and chilies and a final drizzle of zesty chutney. Russets are the conventional type of potato used in chaat, but sweet potatoes can add a delicious twist.

While there are numerous regional chaat varieties, most share a common seasoning blend known as chaat masala, which consists of a long list of toasted spices, sour mango and tamarind powders, and dried aromatic herbs and roots. The result is a complex flavor profile of spicy, tangy, and funky. Fried sweet potatoes would complement and balance all of these vibrant flavors. Plus, they have a richer, silkier pulp than Russets and other starchy frying potatoes. They'll still fry up nicely in a pan, retaining a crispy exterior while the sweet, luxurious interior makes for a decadent upgrade. A sweet potato's texture and taste would also pair well with a wide variety of additional ingredients, from crispy chickpeas and spicy peppers to herbaceous and zesty chutneys.

Sweet potato chaat: ingredient variations

The beauty of chaat is that you can get as creative as you'd like with additional ingredients. Sweet potatoes and chaat masala are the jumping-off point to a world of variations. The sauces and chutneys you drizzle over the spiced potatoes are the perfect places to start flexing your creativity. You can continue the theme of sweet and tangy by creating a sour yogurt sauce with chopped herbs like cilantro and mint and a spoonful of rich, sweet pomegranate molasses. Or, you could use the sweet and tangy foundation to balance opposing flavors by using a spicy, umami sauce full of fresh chilies, stewed tomatoes, garlic, and grated ginger.

Additional toppings like toasted chickpeas or dried chickpea noodles add a pleasant crunch and a burst of savory flavor that would complement fried sweet potatoes. Crispy chow mein noodles are another savory and crunchy option worth experimenting with. A sprinkle of feta cheese, salted pepitas, or chili-lime spiced cashews would bring salty, zingy notes to the mix. You could also pair spicy with savory by topping the sweet potato chaat with rich, mellow paneer squares and spicy fried whole chilies, like Spanish pimientos de padron.