Kulle ki Chaat or Kuliya ki Chaat is a delicious little twist on fruit chaat. These are individual fruit chaat cups, filled with a mixture of small chickpeas, pomegranate, spices and lemon juice. The cups could be made of a variety of fruits and vegetable – like cucumber, boiled potato, sweet potato, tomato, apple, banana, pineapple etc. Simply hollow the fruit/veggie out to make a cup, stuff with the filling and you’re done! They make a lovely party snack – they’re light, they’re delicious and bursting with sweet & sour flavours.
One of the most famous spots to have kulle, on the street, is Hira Lal Chaat Wale in Chawri Bazaar (Old Delhi). This shop’s name will pop up in almost every single Google search for kulle. Even though not many chaat wallas in other parts of the city serve kulle, they are very popular at weddings. I’ve almost always found them at the chaat stalls set up at wedding buffets — they are a treat to start off with before heading to the heavier aloo chaats and tikkis etc.
These have been on my to-do list for ages but I only managed to get down to it when I decided that I wanted to enter the Navratri Challenge for Archana’s Kitchen. Navratri, translated literally as nine nights, is the Hindu festival dedicated to the worship of goddess Durga. Part of the tradition is the observation of a fast for these 9 days & nights where a very specific diet is prescribed. Our family doesn’t really keep the Navratri fast so I’m not an expert on the food rules of the fast. From hearsay and some basic research online, I know a few things for sure — onions, garlic, eggs, meat, alcohol and most grains are off limits; starches like potato, sweet potato and sago form the base of the meals; all kinds of fruit, vegetables and dairy are allowed; there are special flours (kuttu ka atta or water chestnut flour), salt (sendha namak) and seasoning allowed for the preparation of the meals and these are typically available freely during this time. The rest of the details are a bit fuzzy for me.
What I do love about the Navratri fast is that it signifies the onset of the festival season and also the change of season. Navratri will soon be followed by Dussehra and then Diwali and then Bhaiya Dooj. Visiting friends and family, playing cards, planning gifts and sweets is going to be the highlight of the season. Also, leisurely cups of chai on the porch, reading out in the sun, picnics out at Lodhi Garden etc are going to be calling my name soon! Oh, and before I race off too far into the future with my imagination, there is going to be the delicious prasad of halwa, poori & channa served on the last day of the Navratri pooja/worship. A colleague or a friend is sure to share, or I can just make my own!
Coming back to the kulle recipe, I’m just going to say it right in the beginning, this recipe is more in the spirit of Navratri and not a guide for those looking for appropriate recipes to be able to observe the fast – those in the know can easily modify this to their liking and those who don’t know, please take advice and guidance from someone who does!
As far as the authenticity of a kulle recipe goes – this is my take on them. I have used a combination of boiled potatoes, boiled black gram and fresh pomegranates. Traditionally, kulle use a smaller variety of chickpeas and not black gram, but I find the latter more easily available so that’s what I usually use. The seasoning using by chaat vendors is usually a (top secret) combination of spice powders and lemon juice. But I’ve taken the liberty of using whatever I had available at home. This, in fact, is the beauty of the recipe — the only constant is the fact that there should be a cup made of a fruit/vegetable and a filling. The contents of the filling and the seasoning are an open playground with anybody with the slightest imagination!
I love making this as an appetiser for guests as dinner or for tea, as an evening snack, or even as a salad. In fact, I almost always make extra filling and eat it even without the cups!
Here’s what I used:
3 medium sized cucumbers
1 medium sized potato, boiled and diced to match the size of the gram & pomegranate (~1/3 cup)
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1/3 cup boiled black gram
1/2 tsp black salt
1/2 tsp roasted jeera (cumin) powder
Juice of 1 lemon (~2 tbsp)
1 tsp imli sonth chutney
Mint sprigs, to garnish
Here’s how I made them:
First, I gathered my ingredients.
I peeled the cucumbers and cut them into 4-5 pieces each. Using a melon baller (you can use a small spoon or a paring knife), I hollowed out the centre to make cups. Be careful not to pierce all the way to the bottom or the filling will leak out.
I mixed the diced potatoes, black gram, pomegranate, salt, jeera powder, lemon juice and imli sonth chutney in a small bowl. This is a good time to taste and check for seasoning so you can adjust it. Using a small spoon, I filled the hollow cup part of the cucumbers with the mixture.
And we’re done.
I still had plenty of filling left over which I just ate up like a salad. This much filling would probably do for about 5-6 cucumbers, making double this amount of kulle.
Arranging the kulle on a plate, I garnished it with fresh mint leaves and served them up!
Try them out and tell me what you think. Also, if you have any suggestions as to how these should be made more Navratri-fast appropriate, do leave them in the comments section below. I would really appreciate it!
Same time, last year:
One Year Ago: Maharashtrian Shengdana Chutney (Spicy Peanut & Garlic Chutney)
Two Years Ago: Tahini (Middle Eastern Sesame Paste)
Three Years Ago: Chicken & Coriander Momos with Spicy Garlic Chutney
Four Years Ago: Kharda (Maharashtrian Green Chilli & Garlic Chutney)
- 3 medium sized cucumbers
- 1 medium sized potato, boiled and diced to match the size of the gram & pomegranate (~1/3 cup)
- ⅓ cup pomegranate seeds
- ⅓ cup boiled black gram
- ½ tsp black salt
- ½ tsp roasted jeera (cumin) powder
- Juice of 1 lemon (~2 tbsp)
- 1 tsp imli sonth chutney
- Mint sprigs, to garnish
- To make the cups, wash and peel the cucumbers. Cut them into 4-5 pieces each, along the length. Using a melon baller or a small spoon, hollow out the centres to make cups. Make sure you leave the bottom intact else the filling will leak out.
- Make the filling by mixing the diced potatoes, black gram, pomegranate, salt, jeera powder, lemon juice and imli month chutney. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if required.
- Using a small spoon, fill the cucumber cups with this filling. Place on a serving plate and garnish with fresh mint.
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