Chaat (Hindi: चाट, Nepali: चाट, Bengali: চাট, Urdu: چاٹ) is a savory snack originated in India, typically served as a hors d'oeuvre at road-side tracks from stalls or food carts in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. With its origins in Uttar Pradesh, India, chaat has become immensely popular in the rest of the Indian subcontinent. The word derives from Hindi cāṭ चाट (tasting, a delicacy), from cāṭnā चाटना (to lick), from Prakrit caṭṭei चट्टेइ (to devour with relish, eat noisily).
The chaat variants are all based on fried dough, with various other ingredients. The original chaat is a mixture of potato pieces, crisp fried bread dahi vada or dahi bhalla, gram or chickpeas and tangy-salty spices, with sour Indian chili and saunth (dried ginger and tamarind sauce), fresh green coriander leaves and yogurt for garnish, but other popular variants included aloo tikkis or samosa (garnished with onion, coriander, hot spices and a dash of curd), bhel puri, dahi puri, panipuri, dahi vada, papri chaat, and sev puri.
There are common elements among these variants including dahi, or yogurt; chopped onions and coriander; Sev (thin dried yellow salty noodles); and chaat masala, typically consisting of amchoor (dried mango powder), cumin, Kala Namak (rock salt), coriander, dried ginger, salt, black pepper, and red pepper. The ingredients are combined and served on a small metal plate or a banana leaf, dried and formed into a bowl.
Most chaats originated in some parts of Uttar Pradesh in India, but they are now eaten all across the Indian Sub-continent. Some are results of cultural syncretism - for instance, pav bhaji (Bread/bun with cooked and mashed vegetables) reflects a Portuguese influence, in the form of a bun, and bhel puri and Sevpuri, which originated in Mumbai.
In cities where chaat is popular, there are popular chaathouses or dhabas, such as Mumbai's Chowpatty Beach. The chaat specialities vary from city to city. Chaat from Delhi (from where it originated in its current form), Lucknow, Azamgarh, Varanasi, Agra, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, and Mathura are famous throughout India. In Hyderabad, chaat is mostly prepared by vendors hailing from Bihar, and is different in taste.