|Alternative names||Saat (Sylhet)|
|Place of origin||India|
|Region or state||Gujarat, Rajasthan, Odisha, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh|
Chaat, or chāt (IAST: cāṭ) (lit. 'lick, 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.
The word derives from Hindi cāṭ चाट (tasting, a delicacy), from cāṭnā चाटना (to lick, as in licking one's 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 yogurt), 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 of the dishes now categorized as chaats, such as Dahi Vada, can be traced back to ancient periods. A recipe for a dahi vada analogue called 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 far earlier from 500 BC.
Another dish resembling as chaat as an organized phenomenon or distinct group of dishes, according to culinary anthropologist Kurush Dalal, originated in northern India (now Uttar Pradesh) in the late 17th century during the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. The royal doctors had asked the people of Delhi to consume spicy and fried snacks, as well as dahi, as a countermeasure to the alkaline water of the Yamuna river that coursed through the city.
Most chaats originated in some parts of Uttar Pradesh in India later in 20th century, but they are now eaten all across South Asia and neighboring countries. Some are results of cultural syncretism.
Chaat is famous in South Asia in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.