Let's Chaat

A palate-awakening Indian street-food snack

Street food is designed to pack a flavorful punch. And a palate in need of a good wallop (say, after three days of bingeing on turkey) need look no further than Devon Ave.'s Indian corridor and its colorful, flavorful chaat.

The traditional street-vendor snack comes in a variety of forms–puffed rice and grains, chickpea flour noodles, flour crisps or dense dumplings–with a common denominator of sweet tamarind chutney and bright green cilantro sauce. Whatever the mixture, it's sprinkled with chaat masala, an aromatic mix of mango powder, cumin, coriander, dried ginger, peppers and salt.

The 2400-2700 stretch of Devon Ave. is lined with snack houses offering bare-bones, Styrofoam-plate chaat experiences (Annapurna, Sukhadia's and Royal Sweets merit mentions), but our favorite stop for an afternoon snack is vegetarian restaurant Uru-Swati. It's a step up in style: The full chaat repertoire (over 10 kinds) comes on ceramic plates, and the flavors pop.

Try the savory, spiced samosa chaat ($4.50), in which a samosa is piled with tomato-stewed chickpeas, red onions, cilantro sauce, tamarind chutney, yogurt and sev (crispy chickpea flour noodles). Sev puri ($4.50, pictured) makes for piquant finger food: Lurking beneath a heavy sprinkling of sev are seven crispy puffs of fried dough topped with potato and red onion, tossed with the standard tamarind-cilantro duo.

Pair the snacks with sweet fresh lime soda ($3) or a mango lassi ($3) so thick that it gives your cheeks a workout.

Uru-Swati, 2629 W. Devon Ave.; 773-262-5280 or uru-swati.net