Crisp and spicy: the ultimate delicious street food, made at home
Lilly Higgins recipe: Chola tikki with turmeric and coriander yogurt
A few years ago I hosted supper clubs in Dublin and each night had a different theme. I would dream up a menu then prepare for two days before transforming my sister’s house into a restaurant for the night. It was great fun and a lovely way to meet like-minded food lovers and try different recipes.
One of the recipes I made as a starter one night was Chola Tikki. Little patties of spiced chickpeas fried or baked till crispy and hot. With a little raw diced red onion, crispy lettuce and cooling yogurt, these patties are the ultimate delicious street food that can be made cheaply and quickly. They are very tasty and so nutritious.
I now make a larger burger-style patty with tinned chickpeas and stuff them into warm pitta breads or soft bread rolls. I usually gently spice them with garam masala and serve them with flavoured yogurts and some chilli sauce. Flavoured yogurts are very handy to have in the fridge and make a healthier version of mayonnaise. I usually swirl an acid-like pomegranate molasses, lemon or lime juice through then a fresh herb like mint, coriander or dill. Sweet potato chips bring a lovely sweetness that goes well with these burgers.
You could also briefly dip the burgers in beaten egg before frying on a non-stick pan with a tablespoon of oil. Traditionally, the cooked burger is often mashed down into the bun before dolloping sauces and spicy relish on top. Using a large falafel scoop can compress the mixture and simplify making these – they are available online. Or else just dampen your hands and gently but firmly shape the patties. I sometime use a scone cutter as a mould.
Aloo tikki are similar but made with mashed potatoes and are served hot and crispy from street vendors in Pakistan and Northern India. Vada Pav is another excellent potato-based, deep-fried snack that’s eaten stuffed into little bread rolls. This time thought the patty is coated in a batter made with chickpea flour. It’s one of the most famous road-side snacks in Mumbai.
Chola tikki with turmeric and coriander yogurt
350g cooked chickpeas (drained weight)
1 onion, finely diced
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
½ tsp sea salt
1 tbsp. garam masala or a mixture of spices you would prefer
30g, a large handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 tbsp. coconut oil or olive oil
1 tsp nigella seeds
200ml natural yogurt
½ tsp dried turmeric
Juice of ½ lime
Pinch sea salt
For the yogurt mix the turmeric, yogurt, lime juice and half of the finely chopped coriander together in a bowl. Taste for seasoning. You could also blitz everything in a blender but the yogurt can become quite runny. Set aside.
Dry the cooked chickpeas well with paper towels. Place in a wide bowl and mash so that it becomes a rough mixture. Don’t puree it to a hummus.
Heat 1 tbsp. coconut oil in a pan. Sauté the onion and ginger for five minutes till slightly soft before adding the spices and salt. Cook for a further few minutes till the spices are nicely toasted then tip them into the chickpeas. Add the remaining chopped coriander and Combine well to form a fairly smooth dry paste. Shape the mix into four large flat patties and place in the fridge to firm up. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large frying pan and cook the tikka till golden on each side and heated throughout. Serve in warm pitta breads with salad, the coriander yogurt and a sprinkling of fragrant nigella seeds.