Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

Chaat Pack for street nibbles

December 16, 2005

Here is a chaat array being sold on the streets of Delhi. Check out the packaging stuffed in between the sacks of chaat.

You buy some chaat, the vendor mixes it up with some piquante sauce, and you’re good to go.

This is an example of how a food manufacturer together with a forward-thinking food designer used street food to inspire a new product for its street food-appreciative market in India. The chips are flavoured and (loosely) styled to reference ‘chaat’, a term describing all manner of street food snacks. If you look closely on the packaging, you’ll see an image of the traditional street chaat packaging on the left side. Within 10 metres of the stand where I photographed this package, there were five different traditional chaat vendors selling proper chaat.

Packaging for chaat is usually a bag made from old newspaper, a neatly cut piece of recycled paper, or a leaf plate. This bag was made from some terribly interesting literature about bonds, you can see the imprint of the peas (and the grease in which they were deep-fried) absorbed through the paper. Grease shadows, or oily pea portraits, if you will.

In this image you see a stack of paper left on the street as an offering to the gods of the recycled chaat-bag-makers.

debra at 9:16 | | post to


  1. Hi!

    I LOVE chaats…and yea, I’m from Delhi - WE Delhi people are very proud of our chaat specialities! :o)

    Do drop by my blog sometime for a chat and some spicy nibbles! - Hooked on Heat

    Comment by Meena — December 20, 2005 @ 17:28

  2. I am really a big “chaat-fan”!Here in the streets of India..chaat is huge favourite!I would also like to mention the herbs and spices used in the chaat mixture. They The “golgappa”( in the northern India or “puchka” in West bengal or “paani-puri” in Maharashtra)is immersed in the syrup(what you mention as the “brackish pond water”)- it is made up of herbs which have a cooling effect on the stomach. Nice story debra!!

    Comment by qwertyavnika — December 21, 2005 @ 16:23

  3. Hi QWERTY,

    Do you happen to know what the ingredients are of of the syrup? The stuff I had was more soupy than syrupy - very watery, and just like you say, very cooling and refreshing. I think it had black salt in it (I LOVE BLACK SALT!) and tamarind, but the other ingredients I don’t know. Lots of Indian street food is prepared NOT at home - therefore…. I can’t seem to find recipes for it.

    Comment by Debra — December 22, 2005 @ 14:51

  4. Meena, you are lucky to live in Delhi - and I’m loving yer blog! I will keep you posted as to any project I’ll do (hoepfully next year) in Delhi.

    Comment by debra — December 22, 2005 @ 14:53

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