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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Crispy Ecstasy

When I served in her Majesty's secret service I often spent time in Bangladesh attempting to quell the uprising.  I circulated among the tea houses and snack parlours, sipping fragrant teas, snacking on tantalizing chaats, soaking in revolutionary ideas, and making love to sultry women.  In my line of work it was essential to mix business with pleasure.

Now, you might be asking, what is a chaat?  That is a bit like asking, what is the color blue like?  You know it when you see it, or in the case of chaat, when you consume it.

Simply, there are many types of chaats but they usually consist of crispy crunchy elements, soft elements, spices, tangy sauces, pungent oils, aromatic herbs, sweet nothings.  They're an amalgamation of eternal textures and tastes.

Chaats are found throughout the subcontinent, and thankfully they have been exported to New York.  In Jackson Heights, Queens you will find various chaat houses.  Today, a former associate and his wife visited and we journeyed to a street cart - really a table - where a crunchy genius peddled his jhal muri, a type of Bangladeshi chaat.  It's hard to say if this man was a precise engineer or a mystical artist.  I'd like to think he was both.  Whatever he was, he threw various elements into a large plastic jug: crunchy puffed rice, soft legumes, ground spices, red onion, tomato, cilantro chutney, mustard oil, cilantro, and more, and mixed.  We  moaned in excited agony, in tender anticipation, waiting for the chaat.  Our moans filled the streets of Queens.

The final result was a snack of immense complexity and intoxication. We devoured our snacks and thought about our days in Bangladesh and marveled at the crispy delight.  We got a bit carried away with our moaning, I must admit, but the chaats released in us primordial feelings and spasms which could not be silenced.  Long live the crispy ecstasy.