Everyone digs a decorated starter now and then, so here’s where my Green Envy or Palak Chaat joins the conversation. This one’s as colourful as they come, simple to put together and tastes as good.
If entertaining a large group, you may want to do with an extra hand. One hand for the chopping, batter-dipping and frying. The other for the arrangement and topping. Avoid the ‘more the merrier’ idiom, remember that ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’.
Here’s a step by step guide on how to get this green creation started, single-handed or together with another hand.
Green Envy - A Unique Palak Starter Recipe
Chaat Ingredients for Palak Starter Recipe
- 2-3 tbsp cabbage (finely chopped)
- 2-3 tbsp yellow bell pepper (finely chopped)
- 2-3 tbsp carrot (finely chopped)
- ½ tsp ginger (grated)
- 1-2 green chillies (finely chopped)
- 1 medium-sized onion (finely chopped)
- 1 tsp mixed herbs
- ¼ tsp chaat masala powder
- ½ tsp black pepper powder
- 1 tsp Schezwan chutney (Economical Tip: If you don’t wish to stock your larder with a large jar of schezwan chutney, note that it is available with local grocers in small sachets).
The "fringe" ingredients
- A few palak leaves (washed, dried and stems snipped off)
- 1 tomato (chopped fine and added when just about to mix and serve)
(Watchout Tip: Remember to add the chopped tomatoes last, lest you run the risk of watering down the veggie chaat mix if it’s added far ahead of serving time).
- 4 tbsp grated cheese (as desired, for the topping over the topping)
Ingredients for the coating paste
- 5-6 tbsp maida (for binding)
- 3-4 tbsp cornflour (to give the leaves a crispness)
- 1-2 tbsp rice flour (to give the crispness an edge)
- ¼ tsp ajwain
- ¼ tsp apple green food colour (Watchout Tip: Take care to use very little food colouring lest the leaves emerge looking like a garden lawn. My dining table once resembled a meadow from my first time experience 🙂)
- ½ tsp salt
- How to get the veg chaat topping together
- Lightly mix the chaat ingredients and keep aside. That’s about all.
How to coat the palak
- Mix the ‘coating paste’ ingredients in a bowl, adding water till a runny consistency. Keep it neither thick nor thin.
- Just before deep-frying, dip the palak leaves into the green paste. Dunk the leaves one by one and well enough to coat the leaves thoroughly.
How to fry the palak
- Pour oil in a kadai, enough for deep frying. Heat the oil on high, using the palm test* to check for the right amount of heat.
- Just before dipping into the oil, ensure that the palak leaf is fully opened and not folded. Shake off the extra paste if any.
- Fry until crisp. Use pincers to gently pry out the leaves from the oil.
- Place the leaves on a platter, lay over the chopped veg chaat neatly over the fried spinach not letting it lie scattered around the dish. Follow this with a sprinkling of grated cheese and voila, there’s your spinach blast all ready to be served!
How does it look
A unique, colourful, peppery and cheesy surprise! Green, red, ivory combination. A colour riot.
How many can be served
4 vegetarians. If your guests don’t look twice at the creation, don’t invite them over again.
Turn them green. Neighbour’s envy, maker’s pride.
*Palm test – explained in my previous blog post on Cheese Balls