Street-style Chole Samosa Chaat is a hearty, tangy, and spicy snack that represents all the best parts of Indian cuisine! It's layered with chickpea curry, crispy samosa, chutneys, yogurt, spices, pomegranates, and sev to hit all the flavor profiles and textures in one dish. It's perfectly balanced and absolutely comforting when shared with friends and family over a cup of masala chai.
My mother, who I dubbed the snack queen, was always bringing us snacks. Not even joking. Always bringing us snacks. A magical bowl or plate of snacks would appear at least twice a day. It was either chaat she made with love and attention, fried masala aloo (spiced potatoes), a few biscuits with juice, or anything else we had in the house.
It was especially memorable if she made Samosa Chaat with homemade yogurt. This meant that we had fresh samosas on hand from one of our family friends, whom my dad fondly calls sardarji, and she made her famous Chole some time during the week. Lucky, lucky us!
Samosa Chaat has all the textures and flavor profiles that I love in food! The Chole is hearty and warm. The samosas are crispy on the outside with a flavorful filling. The dahi is cooling, both spice-wise as well as in terms of temperature. The spices are minimal but add just that bit of extra flavor. Fresh cilantro and pomegranate arils for a pop of color and freshness. And sev for an extra bit of crunch.
As soon as you finish a bowl, be ready for a nap or a couple cups of chai!
What is Samosa Chaat?
Let's begin by defining chaat.
A popular street food in South Asia, "chaat" describes an entire category of Indian snacks! They're the preferred vegetarian starter at any desi restaurant. It hits every flavor profile and texture that makes it craveable - sweet, spicy, tangy, salty, crunchy.
Chaat is essentially a quick snack that can be made at home or bought from a street vendor. It's typically enjoyed over a cup of masala chai with family and friends.
Samosa Chaat is a vegetarian dish consisting of smashed samosas served over a bed of Chole, or chickpea curry. It's then topped with layers of dahi, cilantro-mint chutney, imli chutney, pomegranates, sev, and cilantro. It's a popular street snack in India due to it's hearty nature that hits all the flavor profiles - sweet, spicy, and tangy!
Ingredients - Notes and Substitutions
There are six main components and ingredients to making Samosa Chaat. A lot of them can be gathered from a local Indian restaurant, i.e. the Chole (or Chana Masala at some restaurants), the samosas, dahi, and the chutneys can easily be purchased from the menu. It's, of course, best to make them all fresh at home or using leftovers!
Chole is a North Indian curry made out of chickpeas, onion, tomato, and spices. It's plant-based and packed with protein, making it a popular recipe. The chickpeas are slow-cooked in a pressure cooker so the curry is incredibly flavorful and hearty. It's made on the dry-side for Samosa Chaat since it's the base where the samosa will sit on top of.
Dahi, translated to curd, is cultured milk that is boiled, frothed, and mixed with a starter to make an Indian-style yogurt in the Indian subcontinent. It balances out the spiciness coming from the Chole and chutneys.
A Samosa is a deep-fried South Asian snack and appetizer that's traditionally filled with spiced potatoes and peas. Other variations include pumpkin or meat fillings like chicken keema (spiced ground chicken). Use homemade samosas, store-bought, grab a few from the local Indian restaurant, or frozen samosas.
Cilantro-mint chutney and imli (tamarind) chutney are the "sauces". They're easy to make at home, or they are available in bottles at Indian grocers.
For the spices, roasted cumin powder (or regular cumin powder), red chili powder, and chaat masala adds a bit of warmth, spice, and tang.
In terms of toppings, Pomegranates and fine sev adds a bit of crunch to the saucy chaat. Cilantro adds additional freshness and color.
How to Make Chole
First, start off by preparing the Chole, which is the base of the Samosa Chaat. Chole can be purchased at just about any local Indian restaurant. It's also found in the frozen section or comes readymade in ethnic grocery aisles, usually under the name "Chana Masala". If the gravy isn't thick after preparation, you'll want to simmer it until it's less watery.
Making it at home has the best results, hands down. Chole can be made stove top or within 50 minutes in an Instant Pot. Most Indian families use dried chickpeas to start with. Canned chickpeas cut down on the time required to soak dried beans.
- Soak the chickpeas. Start with dried chickpeas (remove any stones). If you're making it for lunch the next day, soak it overnight. Otherwise, soak it for 4-6 hours before dinner. Over soaking them will make them hard. You can also use canned chickpeas. Wash them several times before adding them to the curry.
- Toast the aromatics. Set the Instant Pot on sauté. Pour the oil and ghee (optional) into the Instant Pot and then each aromatic starting with the seeds - cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, and mustard seeds. Once they begin popping, add the dried whole chili peppers, minced garlic, ginger, and diced onion. Sauté until golden brown, and then add the masalas - turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala, chili powder, and chana masala.
- Add the rest of the ingredients. Add the tomato paste with about 2 tablespoons of water and mix it really well into the spices. We are looking for the oil to start separating to know when it's done.
- Cook. Wash the chickpeas a few times and pour them into the Instant Pot. Mix them well into the gravy, and then pour 1 cup of water into the pot. When regularly making Chole, I'd add 2-3 cups of water. The 1 cup of waters allows the curry to thicken up so it can be a base for the samosa without making it soggy. Stir it really well. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and set it to bean/chili mode for 45 minutes.
- Serve. After 45 minutes, remove the lid from the Instant Pot. Use a potato masher to mash the chickpeas a few times. This helps thicken up the curry. Allow the curry to rest for about 10 minutes.
How to Make Samosa Chaat
Samosa Chaat is made of six separate layers. It's best to work down the list while assembling it.
- Chole. First, add about a cup of the chole to a bowl or a plate with edges that will hold in all the liquid. Spread it out into the first layer.
- Dahi. Whisk the dahi so it's smooth. Add the dahi in the center of the chole and drizzle it outwards with a spoon.
- Samosa. Smash the samosas or rip them into bite-sized pieces and plate them in the middle of the dahi.
- Chutneys. Drizzle the cilantro-mint chutney and the imli chutney over the samosa and chole.
- Spices. Sprinkle the chaat masala, cumin powder, and chili powder all over the dish.
- Toppings. Sprinkle the pomegranates, sev, and cilantro all over the chaat as well to add crunch throughout the dish.
Finish with an extra drizzle of dahi so that the white color pops against all the browns and greens.
The Samosa Chaat will be a mixture of hot and cool ingredients. The samosa and Chole should be warm, whereas the dahi, chutneys, and toppings will be cool. It is best served immediately, while the Chole is still warm and the samosa is crisp. It's great during snack time, around the late afternoon, with a fresh cup of masala chai.
If making ahead, store everything separately to prevent the samosas from getting soggy and all the liquids mixing together. Assemble when ready to consume. The presentation and distinct layers are half of the fun of eating chaat.
More Indian Snack Recipes to try
- Peanut Chaat
- Chickpea Fries
- Cheesy Tandoori Chicken Garlic Bread
- Baked Mango-Tamarind Cauliflower Wings
- Dahi Vada
Chole (4-6 servings)
- ½ lb dried chickpeas
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 teaspoon ghee, (optional)
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 medium white onion, diced
- 2 in piece of ginger, grated
- 2 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon garam masala
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon chana masala
- salt, to taste
- 2 whole dried red Indian chilis
- 3 oz tomato paste
- 1 cup water
- Soak the chickpeas in twice the amount of water for 4-6 hours maximum or overnight.
- Turn the Instant Pot on the sauté mode and heat neutral oil. Once hot, add the cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, and mustard seeds. Once the cumin and mustard seeds begin popping, add the diced onion and whole chili peppers and fry until the onions turn light brown. Mix the turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala, chili powder, chana masala, salt to taste, ginger, and garlic well into the mixture. Add the tomato paste in last and simmer until the oil separates on the sides and the mixture has darkened in color.
- Slowly add the 2 tablespoon of water into the mixture until a gravy forms. Continue to mix the gravy until the oil starts to separate on the sides.
- Wash the chickpeas a few times and drain it. Pour the chickpeas into the gravy and toss it until the chickpeas are well coated. Pour in the 3 cups of water.
- Cover the chole with the Instant Pot lid and set it to the bean/chili mode. Cook for 45 minutes.
- Uncover the Instant Pot. With a potato masher, mash the chickpeas 5-6 times to thicken up the gravy. Allow the chickpeas to rest with the lid slightly uncovered for 5-10 minutes.
- Spread out one cup of Chole across the bottom of a bowl. Whisk the dahi with a fork or whisk until it's smooth. Spoon the dahi in a circular motion around the Chole, beginning at the center and working outwards.
- Smash the samosa and place it on top of the dahi. Then, drizzle both the cilantro-mint chutney and the imli chutney. Sprinkle the chaat masala, cumin powder, and red chili powder.
- Garnish the chaat with pomegranate arils, diced red onion, sev, and cilantro.
- Serve immediately.
- Used canned chickpeas instead of soaking dried chickpeas overnight and cut down on cook time.
- Chole can also be made on the stovetop. Complete the same steps above in a large pot, and simmer the chole for one hour covered. Be sure to stir to stir every now and then and check for a thickened curry and soft chickpeas.