The odor is akin to a fruit salad that’s been farted on. The taste is like getting punched in the mouth by a lemonhead that’s been inserted into a habanero. The powder, when airborne, gets into your lungs faster than asbestos.
And it’s really good on french fries.
I’m talking about chaat masala, the ultimate South Asian all-purpose seasoning. If Lawry’s Seasoned Salt had a Pakistani half-cousin who listened to The Misfits and got into fist fights, this would be it. It throws the rock that instigates the riot. Its ideals are radical and its philosophy is chaos. It’ll go on chips one day and eggs the next. It’ll mix with yogurt and love every minute of it. In fact, it’s good on just about anything that could use a good kick.
And boy, does it have a kick. Chaat masala is traditionally a mixture of spices that include dried mango powder (sour), black salt (pungent), red chili powder (hot) and asafoetida (anarchy). Walk into any India Sweets & Snacks spot and you’ll find it sprinkled on dahi puri and golgappa. Sure, golgappa is fun to say, but don’t let that fool you. The chaat masala makes it hardcore.
My chaat masala brand of choice is Shan. I recommend Shan for any cook - novice or expert - who wants to make an authentic South Asian meal without having to buy an entire cupboard of spices. Browse any indian grocery store and you’re bound to find stacks of Shan boxes for all sorts of dishes, from Butter Chicken to Lahori Fish (my favorite). While you could certainly make your own chaat masala, there’s no shame in buying a pre-made packet. There are no rules - this is chaat masala, after all.