Wanna Chaat?

| 02 Mar 2015 | 04:30

    "a chick pea is neither a chick, nor a pea-discuss!" said mike myers, doing his famed linda richman "coffee talk" schtick. the chickpea's versatility makes it indispensable for global snacking, especially in savory indian street snacks, sold from carts or stalls under the category of "chaat." no such stalls or carts line the stretch of lexington avenue known for indian restaurants, sari shops and grocery stores, but pop into any restaurant-from madras mahal to pongal to curry in a hurry-and you'll find chick peas ("channa") ground into flour and fried into fritters or whole and bobbing in a hot channa masala.

    feeling out-of-sorts on a hot, sticky day, i stopped at pongal, which boasts "india's vegetarian kosher cuisine," and i cooled off with a channa chaat ($4.45). this cold mixture of chickpeas, yogurt and tamarind paste is sweet and sour and brightened by chopped cilantro, as well as raw tomato and onion. while the chickpeas had a slightly mealy, canned consistency and there weren't enough chunks of fresh tomato, the plentiful, tangy chaat put me in good spirits. i chatted companionably with the men next to me, who were having bountiful business lunch specials, one of which, the "pongal lunch," ($8.45) features iddly, medu vada and masala dosa.

    -- pongal 110 lexington ave. (betw. 27th and 28th streets) 212-696-9458

    got a snack attack to share? contact nbrand@aol.com