My parents live in Northern Virginia and probably their favorite celebratory restaurant is Rasika. This modern Indian eatery plays around with flavors and textures so the dishes are familiar and unexpected at the same time. On their last visit, my family ordered a fruit chaat or salad made with bananas, avocados and drizzled with tamarind chutney. Now, fruit chaat is an Indian street food staple and I grew up eating it constantly at home. This idea of taking fruit and dampening the sweet by adding tamarind chutney is very Indian. Indians also prefer to eat watermelon with a sprinkling of sulphuric black salt and I was well into grade school before I realized that none of my peers ate it this way. Today, it is very trendy to mix salty and sweet. Somehow by having both tastes in a dish you heighten each.
The chaat at Rasika was, however different, from anything I experienced as a child. Typically what my mom would make would have at least 3 different fruits and never avocado which is not native to India. I can be a purist and never liked having so many different flavors competing in one dish. I felt like I could never appreciate the individual the components. Rasika’s take on the dish, however, seemed genius. You get creamy from the avocado and sweet from the banana. In the version I concocted at home I also added some finely chopped mint and peanuts. This was so much tastier than I expected! There was fruity, fresh, and sour in every bite. If the tamarind chutney is already made, the dish comes together in 5 minutes and is the perfect snack on a hot afternoon.