|Alternative names||Saat (Sylhet)|
|Place of origin||India|
|Region or state||Odisha, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh|
Chaat or chāt (lit. 'tasting, delicacy') is a family of savoury snacks that originated in India, typically served as an hors d'oeuvre or at roadside tracks from stalls or food carts across South Asia in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. With its origins in Uttar Pradesh, India, chaat has become immensely popular in the rest of South Asia and the Caribbean.
The word derives from Hindi cāṭ चाट (tasting, a delicacy), from cāṭnā चाटना (to lick, as in licking ones fingers while eating), from Prakrit caṭṭei चट्टेइ (to devour with relish, eat noisily).
The chaat variants are all based on fried dough, with various other ingredients. The original chaat is a mixture of potato pieces, crisp fried bread dahi vada or dahi bhalla, gram or chickpeas and tangy-salty spices, with sour Indian chili and saunth (dried ginger and tamarind sauce), fresh green coriander leaves and yogurt for garnish, but other popular variants included alu tikkis or samosa (garnished with onion, potatoes, coriander, peas, hot spices and a dash of curd), bhel puri, dahi puri, panipuri, dahi vada, papri chaat, and sev puri.
There are common elements among these variants including dahi (yogurt); chopped onions and coriander; sev (thin dried yellow salty noodles); and chaat masala, typically consisting of amchoor (dried mango powder), cumin, kala namak (Himalayan black rock salt), coriander, dried ginger, salt, black pepper, and red pepper. The ingredients are combined and served on a small metal plate or a banana leaf, dried and formed into a bowl.
Some scholars trace origins of chaats such as Dahi Vada (Dahi Bare) to ancient periods. A recipe for dahi wada (as kshiravata) is mentioned in Manasollasa, a 12th-century Sanskrit encyclopedia compiled by Someshvara III, who ruled from present-day Karnataka. According to food historian K.T Achaya, descriptions of dahi vada also appear in literature from 500 B.C. According to culinary anthropologist Kurush Dalal, the Chaat originated in northern India (now Uttar Pradesh) in the late 17th century during the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. He further added that the royal doctors had asked the people of Mughal capital Delhi to consume spicy and fried snacks as well as dahi as a countermeasure to the alkaline water of Yamuna river of the city so the Chaat was invented.
Most chaats originated in some parts of Uttar Pradesh in India, but they are now eaten all across South Asia and neighboring countries. Some are results of cultural syncretism - for instance, pav bhaji (bread/bun with cooked and mashed vegetables) originated in Mumbai but reflects a Portuguese influence, in the form of a bun, and bhel puri and sevpuri, which originated in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
In cities where chaat is popular, there are popular chaathouses or dhabas, such as Mumbai's Chowpatty Beach. The chaat specialities vary from city to city. Chaat from Delhi (from where it originated in its current form), Lucknow, Prayagraj, Kolhapur, Kanpur, Varanasi, Pune, Agra, Meerut, Kolkata,Sowcarpet ,Bengaluru, and Mathura are famous throughout India.