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Indian Cuisines

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Banana chips

Chaat is a word used across India, Pakistan and the rest of South Asia to refer to small plates of savory snacks, typically served at the side of the road from stalls or carts. Most chaat originated in Gujurat, but they are now eaten across the country. Some are results of cultural syncretism - for instance, pav bhaji reflects a Portuguese influence, in the form of a bun,[citation needed] and bhel puri was created by a Gujarati migrant to Mumbai, whose descendants still run Vithal Bhelwala, near Victoria Terminus railway station.

In each major Indian city, there are popular chaathouses or dhabas, such as Mumbai's Chowpatty Beach and Bangalore's Hot Chips, and Gangotree. The chaat specialties also vary from city to city.

Most chaat are based on fried dough, with various other ingredients. Popular types include bhel puri, dahi puri, panipuri, dahi vada, papdi chaat, and sev puri. Each is markedly different from the others in ingredients and form, but several common elements include dahi, or yogurt; chopped onions and coriander; sev (small dried yellow noodles); and chaat masala. This is a masala, or spice mix, typically consisting of amchoor (dried mango powder), cumin, black 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.

In countries outside of South Asia, even ones that have large South Asian populations, like the United States, chaat is rarer than in India. Even so, they can be found, generally in restaurants rather than on the street. In India, chaat generally cost between 5 and 15 rupees (roughly US$0.10-40), and in the United States, they cost between $1.50 and $5.00.

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