Cheap Eats

Hot Chaat: A Primer on Indian Snack Food

Get your fix in the Mahatma Gandhi District, which offers everything from samosa chaat to bhel puri—all in air-conditioned comfort.

By Alice Levitt May 31, 2016 Published in the June 2016 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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We've got the scoop on what goes into the dahi puri at Bombay Sweets—literally.

In India, the fried-dough dishes known as chaat are popular street food. In Houston, you can get your fix at the chaat houses of the Mahatma Gandhi District, which offer everything from samosa chaat to bhel puri in air-conditioned comfort. What makes these deceptively complex combinations so irresistible, besides a price tag that’s often comfortably less than $5?

Bombay Sweets

At this Little India mainstay, the crisp, fried puri (wheat flour) shells are filled with spicy cilantro-mint chutney, sev (fried chickpea flour noodles), chile powder, stewed potatoes and chickpeas, lightly sweetened yogurt, finely chopped onions, sweet-and-sour tamarind chutney—a feast for $5.99.

Chowpatty Chat

At this Bollywood-themed snack specialist, order the pani puri ($6)—tiny, crisp shells filled with potato and yogurt—plus a chikoo (sapodilla) shake ($3) to cool off.

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Raja Sweets

Raja Sweets

Don’t get distracted by the gulab jamun and creamy slabs of burfi ($7.50 per pound) in the sweets case; just order the quick-fix pani puri ($4.50) for a balanced blend of spice and sweetness.

Shri Balaji Bhavan

At this South Indian–focused chaat house, bright colors and bold flavors are the order of the day in dishes such as green-chutney-topped samosa chaat ($3.99) and dahi puri with tomatoes ($3.49).

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Shiv Sagar Restaurant

Shiv Sagar Restaurant

It’s the best of both worlds at this hot spot, where you’ll find South Indian snacks such as dosas and uttapams ($3.99–7.99) alongside northern dishes like crunchy papri chaat ($3.49)—all of which are best consumed while watching Bollywood videos on the restaurant’s TV.

*Deal for a Buck or So: Tacos Aracelys 

99 cents per taco

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