One of the most popular brown bag lunches that my husband prefers to take to work is this spicy Black Bean Zesty (Chaat) Salad. No doubt, connoisseurs of Indian street food will immediately know what a “chaat” is. Chaat is a popular street food from India. It can be a mélange of chopped vegetables, fruit, sprouted lentils, and/or yogurt with crisp paapdi (fried flour dough wafers) and chutney. Basically, there are lots of options for ingredients depending upon which part of India you are in. But no matter what kind of chaat you have, it will surely be sweet, spicy, crunchy and tangy!
Needless to say, once I had created this Zesty Chaat Salad, there was no going back to regular salads for my husband :) Feel free to add or remove any of the vegetables; it’s very flexible. A couple vegetables not mentioned that pair very well with this salad are chopped beets and radishes. One of the ingredients that give this salad its “zing” is the popular Indian seasoning called Chaat masala. I personally prefer the MDH brand chunky chaat-masala, but you can buy whichever brand you prefer. It is available at all Indian grocery stores and even online, and is also very inexpensive. Since you only need to add a small amount, one package will last for a long time. But if you don’t have access to this spice, don’t worry, because the salad will taste superb even without it :) You can eat it as a healthy side with an entrée or as a complete meal.
For this recipe, I have chosen to use black beans, but you can substitute them with black-eyed peas, Cannellini beans, or any other types. As far as the greens in this salad are concerned, I prefer a mix of organic Baby Kale, Chard, and Spinach to get the maximum nutritional benefit, but again this can be totally your choice. The nutritional content for this recipe has been calculated based off of the mix I use regularly. Therefore, the fiber, protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium and iron levels are significantly higher as compared to a salad using just lettuce or a regular spring mix. Not only is this salad a rainbow of color, flavors, and textures, but it is also a nutritional powerhouse to boot. More bang for your buck!
Black Beans/Black Eyed Beans – 1 can
Organic Celery – 4 stalks diced
Cucumber – 1 medium or ½ English cucumber or slightly over 1 cup diced
Red Cabbage – 1 cup chopped
Tomato – 1 large diced
Organic Boiled potato – 1 medium diced
Organic Carrots – 2 large or slightly over 1 cup diced
Green Cabbage – 1 cup chopped
Organic Green Bell Pepper – ½ cup diced
Organic Red Bell Pepper – ½ cup diced
Organic Baby Kale, Chard & Spinach Mix (or Romaine Lettuce or any other dark greens) – 3 tightly packed cups chopped (or at least 1 head of Romaine lettuce from a 3 pack or more if you want)
Lemon juice – 1 ½ T
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 1 ½ T
Salt – 1 t
Black Pepper powder or Red chili powder – ¼ t
Chaatmasala (optional) – 2 t (If you are adding chaatmasala its best to reduce the salt to ½ t as chaatmasala also has salt)
- Dice the all vegetables relatively small and approximately of same size.
- You can boil the beans yourself at home. It will need some planning. You can either soak them overnight and then boil till tender or straight away pressure cook them. That way you can control the sodium content. If there is not enough time then use canned beans. But make sure to rinse and drain them well.
- Add the beans to the all the diced veggies except the Baby Kale mix. Keep them separate to be added in the end otherwise they will get soggy.
- Add the Lemon juice, Olive oil, Salt, black pepper or red chili powder and Chaat masala. Chaat masala is optional but in my opinion gives that extra zing!
- Mix well, taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. For best results refrigerate for at least 30-60 minutes. At end right before eating add the Baby Kale mix or Lettuce or whichever greens you prefer.
- In case you would like to take to Office/Picnic etc., its best to keep the Lettuce in a separate Ziploc to be added at end.
Serving Size: 5
Per Serving: Calories 203 cal, Fat 4.5 g, Sat Fat 0.6 g, Carbs 34 g, Fiber 9.1 g, Protein 9 g, Vitamin A 226%, Vitamin C 140%, Calcium 12.7%, Iron 16%
This recipe is also being entered in the Eat your Greens Challenge!