Crispy Kale Chaat

April 20, 2021
4 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

There is one restaurant for which my family would make the trek from the suburbs of Northern Virginia through the sea of cars on I-66 to get to “the city.” It is the restaurant for which my mom could actually convince my dad to not wear sneakers with his slacks. It is the restaurant at which folks in the Indian community would brag proudly about dining. It is the restaurant where you were fully convinced that there was a powerful politician at the neighboring table after eavesdropping on snippets of their conversations.

This restaurant that makes hip Indian aunties and Washington elites swoon is none other than the iconic Rasika. As you are guided to your seat, you can’t but help but feel the energy of the city as you eye the proper politicians negotiating or the chilled-out cliques of cool city folks having a drink. Though the vibe at each table varies, you can’t help but notice that everyone is deep in conversation around a vibrant green tempura-ed mound of spinach. The palak (spinach) chaat is one of the signature appetizers you can’t leave Rasika without trying. Each spinach leaf is coated in a thin chickpea batter and flash fried to perfection, drizzled with tangy tamarind date chutney and sweet yogurt sauce, and garnished with fresh finely chopped red onions and tomatoes.

I wanted to recreate this recipe but make it more accessible to those who may not want to deal with the fuss of frying with hot oil. So I present to you my crispy kale chaat which is very much inspired by Rasika’s palak chaat. The kale is massaged with oil and spices and baked low and slow in the oven until it curls and crisps. This kale can be eaten on its own as a healthy chip alternative, but what I like to do is transform it into a chaat by layering in fresh veggies, a combo of a zesty yogurt and tangy tamarind sauce, and store-bought fried Indian chickpea snacks like boondi or sev to add extra crunch!

I deeply miss the fanfare of getting dolled up to eat at a restaurant “in the city”. But for now, I live in “the other Washington,” and the speed of take out has still not advanced to be able to deliver across the country. However, I find comfort in flipping through the pages of the Rasika cookbook and ear marking the next recipe to recreate that brings back memories from this restaurant.

Hear Chef Maneet Chauhan on her love of chaats on this episode of our food-meets-music podcast Counterjam. —Shri Repp

What You'll Need
  • Kale Chaat
  • 8 ounces kale, stems removed, washed and dried
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1.5 teaspoons chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher Salt
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup roma tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons tamarind chutney (tamarind-date is best)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup boondi or thin sev (optional)
  • Yogurt Sauce
  • 1/2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher Salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Remove kale leaves from the tough stems and tear into large pieces. Pat kale with a paper towel to make sure leaves are completely dry. This is important because if the kale is wet, it will steam rather than crisp in the oven.
  2. Add kale to a large bowl and drizzle evenly with olive oil to coat. Use your hands to massage the kale with oil. Sprinkle chili powder, ground cumin, black salt, and kosher salt onto the kale, and use your hands again to evenly coat with spices.
  3. Spread kale in a single layer on a large parchment-lined baking sheet, making sure not to overcrowd. Bake on the center rack for 15 minutes, then rotate your pan. Bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, keeping a close eye on the kale to make sure it doesn’t burn (which will contribute a bitter flavor). It's finished when it curls up at the edges and looks crisp.
  4. Remove kale from the oven and keep uncovered until completely cooled.
  5. Mix all yogurt sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
  6. Assemble the chaat by transferring kale into a large serving bowl and evenly distributing red onions and tomatoes throughout. Drizzle yogurt sauce and tamarind chutney (loosening chutney with 1 or 2 tablespoons of water if too thick to drizzle) over the top. Garnish with cilantro and boondi. Serve and enjoy immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lauren Chitwood Schauf
    Lauren Chitwood Schauf
  • epicharis
  • Plum in the Icebox
    Plum in the Icebox
  • Shri Repp
    Shri Repp

13 Reviews

Annemhjones January 1, 2022
We are also huge fans for Rassika (our daughter lives in DC) and we were so excited to make it last night as a course for our New Year's Eve dinner! It was delicious! We went to 4 groceries looking for Tamarind Chutney w/ zero luck. After lots of research on the internet for suggestions, we elected to substitute with Pomegranate Molasses which had on hand -- worked out great. We will be making this often.
Shri R. January 2, 2022
This makes me so happy to hear! That's a great tip on the Pomegranate Molasses when in a tight pinch!
Lauren C. April 15, 2021
This was really delish! It was definitely reminiscent of Rasika. Thanks for a great recipe!
Shri R. April 15, 2021
Thanks so much Lauren! I'm so glad you liked it and it brought food memories from Rasika :)
Nancy H. April 11, 2021
This sounds wonderful - one question: could you please be more specific about the chili powder? I'm assuming it's not the same one you'd use in, say refried beans :)) Thank you!
Shri R. April 11, 2021
Good question! When I was testing this recipe, the chili powder I used is Kashmiri Chili powder which is very traditional to Indian cooking. It's actually my go to chili powder because of its vibrant red color and mild spice level which allows me to have more control in dishes I am cooking - I can scale it up or down based on my preference that day. However, I don't think in this recipe it is vital that you use Kashmiri chili powder -- in fact if that is the only ingredient missing from your pantry go ahead and substitute your favorite chili powder. Just note that a chili pepper like Cayennne is hotter than something like a Kashmiri Chili powder.
epicharis April 10, 2021
The first time you have the palak chaat at Rasika, your whole world changes. I'm so excited to try this!
Shri R. April 11, 2021
It absolutely is! So excited for you to try as well. Please let me know if you do, I always love hearing how it goes. :)
BNS April 10, 2021
Thank you Shri for the amazing and healthy twist to the chaat recipe! Cannot wait to try...

I was wondering what variety of Kale did you use for this recipe?
Thank you again!
Shri R. April 10, 2021
Thank you so much! I can't wait for you to try the recipe also and hear your feedback!

I tested both curly and tuscan (also known as dino kale/lacitano kale) varieties while developing this recipe and they both work great! I would however avoid baby kale which is too delicate for this recipe. If you do get pre-packaged kale (usually curly kale) which is already torn, make sure to remove any tough stems that still may remain in the bag. Hope that helps :)
BNS April 10, 2021
Thank you so much for your reply. My kids are visiting soon. I am sure they would love it also! Cannot wait to make it 😋
Plum I. April 9, 2021
Even before reading the title made me think of Rasika! A favourite of mine in my DC days. Only thing I’ve attempted to recreate was the popcorn you’d get if you were lucky and by the bar. Putting this on my list for sure sounds brilliant!
Shri R. April 10, 2021
hahah - grabbing those elusive tables was always such a great prize! I'm so glad that this resonates with you. Can't wait for you to try it out. Thanks for the kinds words :)