If you like Indian street food, chances are you probably heard about ghugni chaat. This delicious and affordable snack has an almost cult status in Kolkata and the eastern parts of India. In this post, we’ll share the traditional Bengali ghugni recipe and teach you everything there is to know about this delicious street food snack.
What Is Ghugni Chaat?
To put it simply, ghugni is a simple, semi-liquid curry made of yellow peas or dried white peas with potatoes, onions, tomatoes, green chilies, and a wide variety of spices. It’s one of the most popular breakfast choices/snacks in the eastern part of India and one of the most famous street food snacks in Kolkata (alongside jhal muri).
The peas are cooked with gravy and served with puffed rice and (optionally) hot onion pakoda or poori. As we’ll show below in this post, some variations of ghugni chaat include minced meat (mostly chicken or mutton) or meat cut in bite-size pieces but traditionally, ghugni chaat is a vegetarian dish.
The ghugni chaat recipe can be prepared in 25-30 minutes in an instant pot, making it a perfect choice for a weekday meal or even a party snack. My favorite thing about ghugni chaat is that it’s veg, full of proteins, and oil-free.
Indians love chickpeas and it should come as no surprise that chickpeas have very wide use in Indian cuisine. It’s difficult to establish when and where does ghugni chaat exactly originate from but it’s certain that this snack first appeared in the eastern parts of the Indian subcontinent, including Bengal (west and east, today known as Bangladesh), Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam, and Tripura.
There are, however, several theories about the origins of ghugni chaat and here, I’ll share the most widely accepted one. Many people don’t know this but India’s authorities actually were foreseeing the potential of a cholera outbreak (that eventually happened in the 19th century). During the 17th century, Shah Jahan (the Mughal Emperor at the time) and his trusted advisors noticed that the Yamuna river was extremely contaminated and could cause serious problems in the future. After this, the emperor’s council suggested cooking extremely spicy food in clarified butter to tackle the potential pandemic on the horizon.
This is when chaat dishes started becoming popular, including the ghugni recipe that we write about today. Note that the story isn’t verified by culinary historians but it makes a lot of sense because this happened roughly around the same time when the first chaat dishes started appearing in different parts of India.
Ghigni Chaat Variations
Traditionally, there are three basic variations of the ghugni recipe (in addition to the original one):
Mangsher Ghugni (with mutton) that’s often described as a “Kolkata trademark”;
Keema Ghugni (with keema mutton or chicken) that’s traditionally served in Bangladesh, especially during Ramadan;
and Niramish Ghugni (veg version without onion and garlic).
Similar veg variations of the ghugni recipe can also be found in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. In these states, the dish is known as Matar Chaat or Matra Chaat and is slightly drier and not as spicy as the original ghugni chaat. Sometimes, the dish is prepared with fresh green peas or black chickpeas instead of yellow peas.
Ghugni chaat is usually served either as a snack or for breakfast. More often than not, it’s served with chopped green chilies and onions, lemon juice, and some bhaja masala in roadside eateries in disposable shaal leave bowls. It’s rather impressive how they manage to fill up this “eco-bowl” to the top without spilling a single drop. Just watching street food vendors serve ghugni chaat is an experience of its own…
Alternatively, ghugni chaat can also be served with some puffed rice or muri (in some parts of India, also known as murmura). You can even serve it with some rotis or chapatis; this isn’t very common but since you’re making it at home, your home- your rules. Personally, I love that combination.
Don’t blindly follow the chutneys/spices in this ghugni chaat recipe. If you’re not used to spicy food, go easy on the spices and add them as per your taste and preference.
Don’t overcook the ghugni because the peas might get mushy and lose their shape. As a rule of thumb, the cooking shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.
If you’re cooking ghugni chaat in advance, only add tomatoes, onions, and other toppings prior to serving and then garnish and serve.
One of the most important steps in making tasty ghugni chaat is to soak the peas overnight for at least 8-9 hours. Don’t underestimate this step because if you do, the peas might not cook properly.
The gravy shouldn’t be too thick but it also shouldn’t be too liquid. It should have moderate consistency, so be careful when adding water to the gravy.
In any case, do not skip the bhaja masala. It is arguably the most important component of ghugni chaat when it comes to flavoring.
More Indian Street Food Recipes
A Few Things You May Need
- 2 Cups Dried White/Yellow Peas, soaked in warm water
- 2 Cups Water
- 2 Garlic Cloves, crushed
- 1 Large Red Onion, chopped
- 3 Green Chilies, chopped
- 1 Medium-Size Potato, finely chopped
- 2 Large Tomatoes, chopped
- 1 Teaspoon Ginger, crushed
- 1/2 Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Coriander
- 3 Tablespoons Tamarind Pulp
- 1 Tablespoon Chana Masala
- 1 and ½ Teaspoon Chili Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Garam Masala
- 1 Teaspoon Mango Powder
- 10g Salt (to taste)
- ½ Small Lemon (juice)
1. Soak the peas overnight in warm water for at least 8 hours.
2. Drain the peas.
3. Place the peas and potatoes in a pressure cooker. Spice it up with some turmeric powder and salt.
4. In the meantime, add some oil in your pan and place it under heat.
5. Place the onions, garlic, and cumin seeds, in the pan and wait until it gets brown. Mix regularly.
6. Add the tomato, turmeric powder, ginger, and a little bit of water, and mix.
7. Once the peas and potatoes are cooked, add them in the mix alongside some coriander.
8. Turn off the heat and wait for the mixture to cool down.
9. Add some fresh red onions, green chillies, and lemon/cilantro juice.
10. Add the tamarind pulp, chana masala, chili powder, garam masala, and mango powder, and mix well.
11. Serve it alongside some puffed rice, muri, or other bread and enjoy!
Serving Size:100 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 198Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0.5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 83mgCarbohydrates: 41gNet Carbohydrates: 41gFiber: 9gSugar: 7gProtein: 12g
Did you ever try ghugni chaat? How do you like it? Did you enjoy our ghugni recipe? If you tried to make ghugni chaat at home using our recipe, don’t forget to leave us a rating and if you have any questions, feel free to share them in the comments below!
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