A baked crispy curly kale that is layered with mouth-watering Indian spices for a delicious Indian kale chaat. It is a great appetizer that also happens to be healthy!
A healthier recreation of Rasika's Palak Chaat
Rasika is an iconic restaurant that makes hip Indian aunties and Washington elites swoon. 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.
I wanted to recreate this appetizer 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 oven-baked crispy kale chaat, which is very much inspired by Rasika’s palak chaat, but is much healthier because it is baked instead of fried.
The curly kale, unlike the palak (spinach), easily crisps into kale chips in the oven and tastes quite similar to Rasika's dish. To achieve the Indian flavors, the leafy greens are seasoned with spices like black salt, cumin, and Kashmiri chili, which make it taste so delicious.
Once the kale is crisped, it is transformed into the Indian street food snack called chaat by layering in fresh veggies, a combo of a zesty yogurt and tangy tamarind sauces, and store-bought fried Indian chickpea snacks like boondi or sev which makes this a delicious appetizer.
What kale variety is best for kale chips?
The best varieties for kale chips are curly kale or lacinato (also known as dinosaur and tuscan) kale. The leaves of these varieties are hearty enough that they will crisp in the oven rather than steam. Avoid kale varieties like Chinese kale or baby kale as their leaves are too delicate to crisp in the oven.
In recipe testing, I found that fresh green kale that is sold by the stem is better for kale chips than kale leaves sold in a bag. Although the bagged kale will still work, the leaves are a bit too small for the ideal chip. The bagged kale often contain tough stems that are bitter and don't crisp whereas fresh kale gives you more control to tear the leaves larger and avoid the stems.
If you do choose to use bagged kale, make sure to go through the bag of kale and remove any tough stems that may be present. In addition, keep a watchful eye when the kale is in the oven because the bagged kale will likely crisp faster than the fresh kale since they are smaller in size.
Sauces for this Chaat
These are the two sauces that you need to compose this chaat. The dahi sauce is something that you need to make at home. It's super easy as all it requires is mixing a few pantry staples to create a zesty and vibrant sauce. The tamarind-date chutney is one that you can either make at home or buy it online or at your local Indian store. It is a thick sweet and sour sauce that really elevates this chaat!
Frequently Asked Questions
It is best to bake kale at a low temperature like 300F in the oven. I've tested crisping up the kale at various temperatures but a low temperature gives plenty of leeway so that the kale leaves don't burn.
Curly kale or lacinato kale (also known as dino kale and tuscan kale) is best for kale chips as they are studier varieties that crisp well in the oven.
Yes the kale can be baked and crisped 1-2 days ahead of time. If you go down this route, make sure the kale is completely cool before storing it and line your storage container with paper towels to absorb any moisture that may accumulate. Lastly, leave the crisped kale out at room temperature and do not refrigerate.
If the kale chips have gotten slightly soft in those days, you can pop it back into the oven at 300F for 3-5 minutes until they crisp back up.
Massage the kale with oil and properly space the kale in the oven. If you overcrowd the pan with kale, the kale will steam rather than crisp.