One of my favorite Indian spice mixes (masalas) is chaat. It's commonly used to season dishes that are served as snacks, including those you’ll find on the carts of many street food vendors in India.
Chaat masala is prepared by lightly toasting and grinding a lot of aromatic spices—I use cumin and carom seeds, dried chiles, cloves, dried mint, dried ginger, mango powder, and black pepper—and then mixing them with a little bit of black salt (kala namak).
I make this fruit chaat salad at least a couple of times every summer. It’s perfect for a weekend barbecue and requires very little effort. As long as you have some fruit and the prepared spice mix, you’re good to go!
I let the fruit salad rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes—this allows the fruit juice to release and bind the spices and black salt, creating a spicy yet sweet and tangy sauce that coats the fruit. —Nik Sharma
4 to 6, with leftover spice mix
For the chaat masala:
carom seeds (ajowan)
dried red chiles (preferably Kashmiri or Thai chili peppers)
Place all the spices from the cumin to the mint in a spice mill and grind to a fine powder. You can also use a mortar and pestle. Toast the ground spices in a dry skillet on low heat until the powder just starts to release its aroma and the color gets slightly dark brown. Remove the spice mix from the skillet immediately and transfer to a cool dish or a sheet of parchment paper.
Mix the ground spice powder with the rest of the spices from the ginger to the black pepper. Store in airtight container until ready to use. This mix is best used within 4 weeks from the day it is prepared.
For the fruit salad:
Place the fruit from the grapes to the apples in a large mixing bowl.
Peel the oranges, cut the segments, and add the fruit to the rest of the ingredients in the large mixing bowl. Squeeze the juice from the leftover orange over the fruit.
Add the remaining ingredients to the fruit in the large mixing bowl. Toss to coat evenly. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. This fruit salad is best eaten the day it is prepared.
Nik Sharma is the writer, photographer, and recipe developer behind A Brown Table, an award-winning blog that has garnered best-ofs from Saveur, Better Homes & Gardens, and the International Association of Culinary Professions. His weekly column, A Brown Kitchen, appears in the San Francisco Chronicle and has written for Saveur, Taste, Food52, Eater, among others. His first cookbook, Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food was released on October 2018. He was also featured in America, the Great Cookbook. Nik lives in Oakland, California.