Julie Van Rosendaal cooks up munchies for your cannabis cravings

There has been a lot of talk about new cannabis legislation coming into effect this week, and its ability to trigger the munchies.

CBC Calgary's food guide shares her idea of a high-ranking snack food

Finished in a bowl, eat the chaat right away while the papdi is still crispy. (Julie van Rosendaal)

Let's chaat about the ultimate snack food.

There has been a lot of talk about new cannabis legislation coming into effect this week and its ability to trigger the munchies.

While it's true that your cannabinoid receptors — which are scattered throughout your body but exist mostly in your brain and nervous system — are involved in processes that include mood and appetite, and the active compounds in cannabis alter these receptors, it's also true that most of us can come down with a severe case of the munchies on any given day, THC on board or not.

When it comes to snacking, flavour and texture seem to be a bigger consideration than it is when deciding what's for dinner.

Classic snack foods are crispy, crunchy, chewy, gooey … they stimulate other senses and satiate a sensory need more than a nutritional one.

You may consider chips, nachos or pizza the ultimate snack food; buttery popcorn and salty pretzels are popular, grilled cheese satisfies a need for warm, crisp and gooey, cinnamon buns for soft and sweet.

And, of course, the most munchable snacks are hands-on; it's an even more sensational experience with the added tactility of eating with your fingers. 

The finished papdi chaat can be assembled plate by plate, or in a big bowl for multiple servings. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

If you're not familiar with papdi chaat, I'd like to put it forth as the ideal snack food, and a dish well worth learning how to make.

Chaat is a blanket term used to describe a wide range of snacky, savoury Indian street foods; papdi (or papri) are the crisp fried crackers used as a base for (or served alongside) diced potatoes and chickpeas tossed with chaat masala, minced onion, fresh mint-cilantro chutney, and a drizzle of sweet-tart tamarind chutney and cool spiced yogurt.

Papdi chaat is everything you might look for in a snack — salty, sweet, sour, tangy, crunchy, spicy and soft.

Sometimes the papdi are store-bought but can be made from scratch with a simple, thinly rolled wheat dough. I was interested to learn that best-selling cookbook author Noorbanu Nimji suggests in her latest cookbook, A Spicy Touch, cutting flour tortillas into short, wide strips and frying them until crisp in a thin pool of canola oil.

This worked beautifully, and the tortillas puffed somewhat in the middle, like the best papdi. The ingredient list might look daunting, but once you have the hang of it — and the ingredients on hand in your fridge or pantry — it's quick to assemble. Serve it quick, so the papdi don't soften, and eat it all with your fingers.

Papdi Chaat

Crisp papdis or puris can be bought at some grocery stores, but cooking flour tortillas was quick, and being freshly cooked, they were wonderfully crunchy. It's OK to use canned chickpeas, but this is a good use of soaked and simmered dried chickpeas, which have a slightly firmer texture.

Here's a mise-en-place of what you need for the recipe. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

2-3 flour tortillas
canola oil

Mint-coriander chutney:
a big handful of fresh mint leaves
a big handful of fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
juice of half a lemon

Potato and chickpeas:
1 large potato, diced
1 tbsp butter or ghee
½ cup chickpeas, drained
2-3 tsp chaat masala
a squeeze of lime juice (optional)

½ cup plain yogurt
1 tsp chaat masala
1 small garlic clove, finely grated (optional)

½ cup Sev or Bombay mix
¼ cup finely chopped purple onion
1 plum tomato, finely chopped (optional)
fresh cilantro (optional)
tamarind chutney


To make the papdi, cut the flour tortillas into 1x2-inch pieces. Heat about half an inch of oil in a skillet set over medium-high heat and cook the tortilla pieces until deep golden. Transfer with tongs to a paper towel-lined plate as they cook, and shower with salt.

(Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

To make the mint-coriander chutney, blend the mint, coriander, jalapeño, lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a blender or food processor until well blended, scraping down the side of the bowl. 

Boil the potato in a small saucepan just until tender; drain and toss with butter while it's still warm. Toss with the chickpeas, chaat masala, and a squeeze of lime, if you like. Sprinkle with salt. Mix the yogurt, chaat masala, garlic and a pinch of salt.

To assemble, spread the papdi out on a platter or individual plates and pile on the potatoes and chickpeas, sev or Bombay mix, onion, tomato, and cilantro, drop over a few small spoonfuls of the mint-coriander chutney and drizzle with the yogurt and tamarind chutney. Serve immediately.

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With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.

About the Author

Julie Van Rosendaal

Calgary Eyeopener's food guide

Julie Van Rosendaal talks about food trends, recipes and cooking tips on the Calgary Eyeopener every Tuesday at 8:20 a.m. MT. The best-selling cookbook author is a contributing food editor for the Globe and Mail, and writes for other publications across Canada.