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Asha's Big Chaat Salad

Recipe by: Asha Loupy

Serves: 4

Asha's Big Chaat Salad
Photo by:  

Melati Citrawireja

If you know me, you know I love big salads. When we were developing our house Chaat Masala, I knew it was destined for a truly dreamy salad. This salad relies heavy on lots of allium goodness. First, white or yellow onion is fried until golden and crisp. Then, the onion-infused oil is used as a base for a sweet 'n' tangy dressing with tamarind, lime, and jaggery. And lastly, fresh red onion adds sweetness, sharpness, and crunch to the finished dish.

The other star of the dish is the paneer and chickpeas, spiced with chaat masala and Kashmiri Chillies — or Sirārakhong Hāthei Chillies if you're feeling smoky — and roasted until the cheese starts to caramelized around the edges and the chickpeas loose some of their moisture, becoming crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.

If really good heirloom tomatoes aren't in season, I will often reach for cherry tomatoes, which are still halfway decent in the middle of winter. But, this salad is a great canvas for seasonal produce like cucumbers, roasted beets, avocados, and citrus.

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  • 1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup, plus 3 tablespoons, neutral oil such as canola or rapeseed
  • 2½ teaspoons kosher salt or 1¼ teaspoons Surya Salt
  • 6 ounces paneer, cut into cubes
  • 1 14-ounce can chickpeas, drained and patted dry
  • 1½ tablespoons Chaat Masala
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon powdered Kashmiri Chillies or Sirārakhong Hāthei Chillies
  • 1 golf ball-sized piece (50g) seedless tamarind
  • Zest of 1 lime (about 1 to 2 teaspoons)
  • Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons Madhur Jaggery
  • 1 head butter lettuce or 3 little gems
  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup cilantro, leaves & tender stems, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup alfalfa sprouts or microgreens, such as radish or sunflower
  • 2 to 3 heirloom tomatoes, cut into large chunks & wedges
  • Pomegranate arils, for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Break the tamarind into pieces and place in a small bowl. Cover with ½ cup boiling water and allow to sit for 15 to 30 minutes.
  3. Place the paneer and chickpeas on a sheet pan, drizzle with 3 tablespoons canola oil, sprinkle with chaat masala, Kashmiri chillies, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt or ½ teaspoon surya salt, and gently toss to coat everything evenly. Spread out into a single layer and bake, stirring halfway through, until the paneer cubes turn golden on a couple sides and the chickpeas start to crisp, about 12 to 16 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  4. While the cheese and chickpeas are roasting, fry the onions. Heat the canola oil in a medium saucepan, add half the onions and fry until light golden, about 7 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried onions to a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt or ⅛ teaspoon surya salt. Repeat with the remaining half of the onions. Let the oil cool for 5 minutes and reserve for making the dressing. Alternatively, you can fry the onions in the microwave using this hack from America’s Test Kitchen.
  5. To make the dressing, strain the tamarind through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl, pressing the pulp with a spoon. Discard any fibrous pulp and seeds left behind and transfer the strained tamarind to a mason jar. Add the reserved cooled onion oil, lime zest, lime juice, jaggery, and the remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt or ½ teaspoon surya salt. Cover with a lid and shake well to emulsify. Taste and adjust salt, as needed.
  6. To assemble the salad, tear the lettuce into your desired salad size (I like to keep mine on the bigger, leafier side, but you can also tear them into generous bite-sized pieces). Transfer to a serving platter, add the red onions and cilantro, drizzle with a couple spoonfuls of dressing, and gently toss to lightly coat the greens. Arrange the tomatoes on top of the lettuce, nestle the sprouts in and around the tomatoes, and drizzle with more dressing. Garnish with the fried onions and pomegranate arils. Serve immediately.

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