Recipe: Seasonal Fruit Chaat

Recipe: Seasonal Fruit Chaat

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Nazneen Hamilton
Jun 8, 2016
(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

Fruit chaat, a spiced fruit salad, is a ubiquitous iftar fruit dish, present on pretty much every South Asian iftar table. You could argue that there really is no recipe for chaat and if there was, the variations would number in the hundreds if not thousands, as it changes with the seasons and according to each family's taste. Traditionally, in India and Pakistan, fruit chaat, a type of spiced fruit salad, is made with apples, oranges, bananas, and guava, if they are in season. But the vital part of what makes chaat is the chaat masala.

What Is Chaat Masala?

Chaat masala is a spice mix that usually contains a blend of amchoor (or green mango powder), cumin, coriander, and ginger. It also contains black salt, a pungent and strong salt that adds the characteristic taste of the fruit chaat. At its most basic, a fruit chaat should at least contain a sprinkle of black salt and a good amount of pepper.

Chaat masala is an acquired taste, so I would try it first on a piece of fruit before sprinkling it liberally over your fruit salad! Even if you like it, it is pretty strong, so start with a teaspoon and add sparingly from there. It does add a great depth of spicy flavor to the sweet fruit; I especially I like it on bananas and oranges.

(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

Fruit Chaat for Ramadan

Since Ramadan follows a lunar calendar, it falls on different months every year, and usually it moves up two weeks year to year. Lately, Ramadan has been falling in late summer, and this year has moved into early summer. Since the best fruit chaat is very much a seasonal one, what I make every Ramadan changes. When my children were little, Ramadan fell in the winter months and so my fruit chaat consisted of lots of citrus, apples, and bananas. This year berries, Colorado cherries, and apricots are the on menu.

Fruit Chaat + Chickpeas

One of my favorite ways to eat the fruit chaat is with a side of spicy, tangy chickpeas. I like to prepare the chickpeas with a temper of red chilies and curry leaves, followed by a quick simmer with some sweet and sour tamarind sauce. The combination of the sweet and spicy fruit along with the tangy, sweet chickpeas may sound unconventional, but many Indians, Pakistanis, and even my American husband like to eat these two dishes together. This is the other reason why, traditionally, the fruit is cut up so small; it's easier to scoop along with the chickpeas.

If you're looking for something to jazz up a fruit salad, give this sweet and spicy fruit chaat a try.

Seasonal Fruit Chaat

Serves 6 to 8 (about 6 cups)

2 medium oranges
2 medium apricots, halved and pitted
1 medium peach or nectarine, halved and pitted
6 large strawberries, stems removed
12 cherries, pitted
6 ounces blueberries (about 1 1/4 cups)
2 teaspoons chaat masala (see Recipe Note)
3 medium bananas
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves

Cut around the oranges to remove the peel and the white pith. Slice the oranges, then cut into small dice. Place in a large bowl.

Cut the bananas, apricots, peach or nectarine, and strawberries into small dice (the same size as the oranges) and add to the bowl.

Quarter the cherries and add to the bowl. Add the blueberries and chaat masala, toss gently to combine, and let sit to macerate 5 to 10 minutes.

Peel and thinly slice the bananas. Add the bananas and mint to the bowl, and mix gently to combine.

Recipe Notes

  • Chaat masala: Chaat masala is a sweet-sour-spicy spice blend from South Asia.
  • Fruit cutting: The fruit can be cut in any desired size. Traditionally, the fruit is cut pretty finely, but it's up to personal taste. I do not like my fruit to get mushy, so I cut mine small but still chunky.
  • Fruit selection: The amount of fruit in this recipe is based on my preference. There isn't a set rule to the quantities; I like oranges, so I use more oranges. Increase your favorites and omit what you don't like!
  • Storage: Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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