• Yield: Serves 4

The first time I had nachos, the combination of flavors, textures, and colors reminded me of chaat, which are crispy, crunchy, saucy snacks beloved in India. I instantly fell in love, and knew I wanted to create a dish that blended the two together. I included a recipe to make your own papdi chips, but you can buy them, along with many of the other ingredients, at Indian markets. The tamarind chutney adds a flavor that almost mimics barbecue sauce.


For the papdi chips

  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (100 g) besan (gram or chickpea flour)

  • 1/2 teaspoon ajowan seeds

  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • Baking soda

  • 1/2 cup (15 g) fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil, plus more for frying the chips

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the lamb keema

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 2 onions, finely chopped

  • Salt

  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) tomato purée

  • 1/2 tablespoon ginger paste

  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic paste

  • 2 tablespoons meat masala powder

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves

  • Granulated sugar

  • 1 pound (450 g) ground lamb

  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) water

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves

For the pico de gallo

  • 4 small tomatoes, finely diced

  • 2 small English cucumbers, finely diced

  • 3 small jalapeños (or Fresno chiles), seeded (optional) and finely diced

  • 1 small red onion, finely diced

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • Chaat masala

For the lemon yogurt

  • 1 cup (240 ml) plain yogurt

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • Zest of 1 lemon

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • Salt

For serving

  • Tamarind chutney (see page 37), for drizzling

  • 3 ounces (85 g) Provel cheese, grated

  • 1/2 teaspoon chaat masala, for serving

  • Pickled jalapeños, for serving


For the papdi chips

In a large bowl, whisk together the besan, ajowan seeds, crushed black peppercorns, salt, and a pinch of baking soda. Stir in the cilantro. Using your hands, rub the canola oil into the mixture then add water, 1 teaspoon at a time, to make a sticky dough. Add the all-purpose flour and knead in the bowl to form a stiff dough.

On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until 1/8 inch thick (0.25 cm). Cut the dough into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces.

Set a rack inside a baking sheet and arrange it near the stove. In a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, bring about 3 inches (7.5 cm) of canola oil to 350°F (180°C). Working in batches, carefully add a few rounds of dough to the hot oil and fry, occasionally flipping and moving them around in the oil, for about 2 minutes or until crisp and golden yellow. Using a slotted spoon or a strainer with a handle, transfer the chips to the rack to drain and cool. Repeat to fry the remaining chips.

For the lamb keema

In a large skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the tomato and tomato purée and cook for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is thick. Add the ginger and garlic pastes, followed by the meat masala powder and chili powder and cook for about 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the fenugreek leaves, a large pinch of salt, a small pinch of sugar, and the ground lamb and stir to combine. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates. Season to taste with salt, sprinkle with the cilantro, and keep warm.

For the pico de gallo

In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumbers, jalapeños, red onion, and lemon juice and season to taste with salt, pepper, and chaat masala. Set aside some of the pico de gallo for serving.

For the lemon yogurt

In a bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, and the lemon zest and juice and season to taste with salt. Set aside some yogurt for serving. The leftover yogurt can be refrigerated and should be used within 1 or 2 days.

For serving

Set the oven to broil.

Arrange half the papdi chips on an oven-safe platter or baking sheet. Top with half the lamb mixture and a drizzle of tamarind chutney. Add the remaining chips, followed by the remaining lamb mixture and sprinkle with the Provel cheese. Broil a few inches from the heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until the cheese starts to melt.

Top the nachos with some pico de gallo, lemon yogurt, chaat masala, and pickled jalapeños. Serve hot.

More about A Place at the Table: The book is produced in collaboration with the Vilcek Foundation, which is dedicated to raising awareness of immigrant contributions in America and fostering appreciation of the arts and sciences. The publication of the book follows the Vilcek Foundation's prestigious 2019 chef awards this spring, which only happen every 5 years. The winner of the Vilcek Prize in Culinary Arts this year was just announced and it was Marcus Samuelsson.

Recipe excerpted from A Place at the Table: New American Recipes from the Nation's Top Foreign-Born Chefs (Prestel, Sept 24, 2019, $40/hardcover) by Gabrielle Langholtz, Rick Kinsel.

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