This article wouldn’t normally pass muster for inclusion here at 3QD, lacking as it may be in intellectual depth. I don’t care. If I can help a single Pakistani or Indian New Yorker find chaat somewhere, I will no doubt be alloted at least 36 virgin brides in heaven. For some unfathomable reason, chaat is impossible to make well at home. There are millions of recipes floating around, but it just doesn’t come out right. In Pakistan, it is best bought from the filthy cart of a street vendor, and best swallowed along with a prophylactic dose of Cipro. Trust me, it is worth the Delhi-belly. I have been trying to explain to people what chaat is for some time, and trying to describe its incomparable simultaneous explosion of a million flavors and crispy textures on the palate, always without success. Finally, we have a professional to do the job.

Julia Moskin writes in the New York Times:

09chaatAsking Indians in America about chaat, India’s national snacks, is like asking Americans in India about burgers: the word unleashes unbearable cravings, nostalgia and homesickness. “I remember going to Kwality Snacks for papri chaat when I was a boy,” said Gandar Nasri, 74, a retired New York City taxi driver, who moved from Delhi in 1955. “Nothing will ever taste like that again.”

Taste a good chaat, and you understand why it is not soon forgotten.

Chaats are jumbles of flavor and texture: sweet, sour, salty, spicy, crunchy, soft, nutty, fried and flaky tidbits, doused with cool yogurt, fresh cilantro and tangy tamarind and sprinkled with chaat masala, a spice mixture that is itself wildly eventful. The contrasts are, as one fan said, “a steeplechase for your mouth,” with different sensations galloping by faster than you can track them.

All Indians in America are homesick for the same thing, said Mitra Choudhuri, a software engineer from Gujarat, who lives in Fort Collins, Colo. “There is no chaat here, only curries,” he said.

But in the New York region that has finally changed.

Thank God! Get the lowdown here.