Chaat is the term for ‘snack’ in India, and papdi are delectable little fried pieces of dough. Pretty as a picture and an absolute explosion of taste and texture, this is one of my favourite Indian street foods – a sort of Indian version of nachos! You can line up all the elements in dishes well ahead of time, then assemble at the last minute so the papdi stay crisp.
For the papdi , stir together the flours, cumin and ajwain seeds with the salt. Add the ghee or butter and just enough water to bring it together to a firm dough – around 8 tablespoons. Tip on to the worktop and knead for a couple of minutes, then put back into the bowl, cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6. Tip the chickpeas into the centre of a clean tea towel, bring up the sides and dry the chickpeas thoroughly by pressing gently all over. Tip into a bowl and stir through the oil, coriander, cumin and chilli. Season with salt and pepper and stir well to coat. Spread out in a single layer on a baking tray.
Place the aubergine in the same bowl (no need to wash it) and add the vegetable oil, black onion seeds and turmeric. Season with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Spread out in a thin layer on another baking tray. Put both chickpeas and aubergine into the hot oven and roast for 25–30 minutes, turning halfway through. The aubergine should be soft and tender, the chickpeas crisp and crunchy. Set both aside to cool.
While they are cooking, make the chutneys. Add a splash more water to the date and tamarind chutney to make it easier to drizzle, and whizz up the coriander chutney until it’s a little paler in colour.
Once the papdi dough has rested, roll it out on a lightly floured worktop to a thickness of about 2mm. Prick all over with a fork to stop it from puffing up too much on cooking, then cut the dough into squares of about 4cm. Heat the oil in a deep fat fryer to 180°C/350°F and fry in 2 or 3 batches for about 3 minutes until crisp and golden. Drain over kitchen paper and set aside.
To make the chaat masala , toast the cumin seeds for a minute or two in a dry frying pan set over a medium heat. Once you can smell their aroma wafting from the pan, tip into a spice mill or pestle and mortar, add the peppercorns and grind to a powder. Add the amchur powder and salt and mix together for a few seconds to combine. Tip into a bowl.
To serve, place a layer of papdi over a large platter for sharing or a few smaller plates. Scatter over some tomato and red onion and top with a little roast aubergine. Add a few dollops of yogurt and chutneys, scatter over the crunchy chickpeas and finish with a sprinkling of chaat masala . Serve immediately.