Chaat, literally meaning “lick” in Hindi, is the term for anything here that is sold as something between a snack and a meal. Sev Puri is one of the seminal attractions, along with Pani Puri, a mixture of cracker and flavored water, Dahi Puri, a cracker and curd extravaganza, and the ever popular vegetable samosa. The samosa here is served in a small white bun called Pav. For New Yorkers, the concept is similar to having a jamaican beef patty in between two pieces of coconut bread.
By the way, Pav is pronounced “pow.” W’s and V’s tend to change places here, enough that if you are driving in a large truck, you are actually driving in an “S U Weeeeeeeeeeee.”
You can eat it on the street or opt for “parcel parcel.” If you want take away, just make a motion with your hands like you’re wrapping something up. This is the universal sign for wrap it up.
Upon opening, it’s the best time to attempt to dissect what exactly is in Sev. This is not the simplest of tasks and I think it might be best to go from the ground floor up. On the bottom is a leaf, don’t eat that. You could, but don’t. So beginning with what’s edible:
- six crackers are arranged on the leaf
- boiled potato is mashed up in the hands of your sev maker (he did just touch money and not wash his hands before making your sev, so if that bothers you, eat something else.)
- diced red onion is layered
- sweet red chutney is splashed everywhere
- hot green chutney is splashed everywhere the red chutney went
- coriander is thrown at it
- if the chutney isn’t ambiguous enough, here comes a plethora of random crunchy things
- little yellow crunchy noodles
- slightly bigger orange crunchy noodles
- green crunchy bits
- anything the sev guy feels like throwing on there
- more chutney is splashed
- more crunchy ambiguity
- finally it’s finished with more coriander and a sampling of peanut
That’s about it, now you’re ready for snack time. Snack is misleading however. After six of these cracker mountains, eating much else is difficult for most.
Finish it off and you’re ready for a chai and a nap, watch the rain and make up some excuse not to have to leave the house again. No one else here leaves the house until they have to, so When in Rome Ron Burgundy, When in Rome.