Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mung Bean Chaat Baskets

A few months ago, I made a version of a chaat that I had eaten last summer at my favorite North Indian restaurant in New York, Devi. I served it to my mom when she was visiting 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).

Anyway, I didn’t easily forget how much my mom loved the chaat, so I decided to serve it at my cocktail party. I’m not quite sure how I came up with the idea of making little cups out of phyllo dough in which to serve the chaat, but it ended up working out wonderfully both in terms of presentation and textural variation. If you’re not serving this as an hors d’Ĺ“uvre (I love typing that word), there’s no need to make the phyllo cups – just serve the chaat in small bowls.

Mung Bean Chaat Baskets
(makes 24)
For the phyllo cups:
6 sheets phyllo dough
Cooking spray (preferably pure olive or canola oil)

Heat oven to 350° F.

Lay out one sheet of phyllo dough and evenly spray it with a light coating of oil. (Cover the remaining sheets with a very lightly damp towel or damp paper towel.) Repeat with another two layers. Cut the layered phyllo dough into 12 equal size pieces – make 3 lengthwise strips and cut those across into 4 pieces each.
Turn a mini-muffin pan upside down and lightly spray with oil. Place a square of layered phyllo onto the cup the muffin tin and press the edges around to form a cup.
Bake until lightly golden brown, about 4 – 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on them – they will brown very quickly once you get past 4 minutes.
Store in an airtight container. (These can be made up to a week ahead.)
For the topping:
10 small tender okra
1 cup canola oil for frying
Heat the oil to 350° F in a very small saucepan.

Trim the okra by cutting off the tops. Slice the okra into very thin rounds.

When 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.

Let the oil return to 350 before repeating with the remaining okra.

Store in a resealable plastic bag. (These can be made up to two weeks in advance, just make sure that the 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.)

For the chaat (makes 4 servings as a regular appetizer)
1 cup sprouted mung beans (from 1/3 cup dried beans)*
Heaping ½ cup finely chopped tomato (about 1 small tomato)
½ cup finely chopped cucumber (about 1 small cucumber, peeled and seeded)
¼ cup finely diced granny smith apple (from about ¼ of an apple)
1 tightly packed tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon yogurt (optional - omit for vegan version)
¾ teaspoon chaat masala**
* Dried mung beans are available in bulk bins in many supermarkets. Soak the beans overnight in a covered bowl (1 part beans, 4 parts water). The beans will hydrate to three times their original volume (i.e., 1 cup dried beans = 3 cups soaked beans). The following morning, drain the beans and store them in a container in the refrigerator. The beans can be stored this way for up to a week.
** Chaat masala is available at Indian grocery stores; I’m a fan of MDH’s Chunky Chat Masala

Mix all the ingredients in a large non-reactive bowl. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes for the flavors to blend.
Use a measuring tablespoon to scoop the mixture into the phyllo cups. Top off each one with a few pieces of fried okra. (If serving as an appetizer, top off with a small handful of the fried okra.)


malini said...

Roopa served me this dish and I couldn't stop eating and ate every last bit. Very tasty.

Nabeela said...

Those look gorgeous! You keep coming up with marvellous ideas after ideas!

Vanessa said...

What a great idea! I'd love to serve these for a first course at a fancy-smancy meal.

Great blog too. Keep up the good work.

Meghan said...

these are just beautiful!

Priya said...

I stumbled upon your blog and was eager to try this recipe - I did - and they were amazing! They actually sell mini filo dough shells (pre baked), which made it even easier. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe - I'm looking forward to trying many of your other recipes!

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