Many years ago, I had an amazing chaat (an Indian snack often made of finely chopped vegetables, lentil flour chips, and spices) that I couldn't get out of my mind. One day, when my mom was visiting me, I made a version of it and she loved it, which meant that it was a success; my mom holds Indian food to high standards, and why shouldn’t she – she’s been cooking it forever and makes the absolute best South Indian food ever (and I’m not just saying that because she’s my mom). This salad relies on the chaat masala, but if you can't find it, try making your own spice blend with cumin, coriander, chili powder, and, the critical ingredients, black salt and amchur (dried green mango) powder. The latter give the mix a smoky, sulphuric, and sour taste that are critical to chaat. Additionally, the fried okra are optional (if you hate frying like I do), but they really do make this chaat go from great to wow, so I recommend you make them.
1/3 cup dried mung beans
1 medium tomato
1/2 small Granny Smith apple
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon yogurt
1 teaspoon chaat masala
10 small okra pods
1 cup canola oil
Fine sea salt
Step 1Soak the mung beans in at least 2 cups of water and let sit overnight. The next day, drain the beans. (They can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.)
Step 2Chop the tomato into very small chunks and transfer to a large bowl (you should have a little more than 1 cup).
Step 3Peel the apple and chop into 1/8\
Step 4Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Add salt if necessary (but it probably won't be because the chaat masala contains salt). Let stand for 10 minutes before serving to let the flavors mix.
Step 5Divide the mixture among 4 plates, and top each one with about 1-2 tablespoons of the fried okra.
Step 6Add the oil to a very small saucepan and heat to 350 F.
Step 7Trim the tops off the okra, then slice them into very thin rounds.
Step 8When the oil is hot, add half the okra. (Stand back – it may splatter and there will be lots of steam coming off the pan.) Cook until medium golden brown, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season with salt while hot.
Step 9Let the oil return to 350 and then repeat with the remaining okra.
Step 10If not using immediately, store in a resealable plastic bag or airtight container. (These can be made up to two weeks in advance, just make sure that the container or bag is sealed well or the okra will get soft – I usually slice and fry the whole pint of okra so that I don’t have to fry the okra each time I make chaat.)