I used to sit on the 21st floor. Now I am retired

Monday, June 05, 2006

Looking for chaat, getting raita

It was Sunday evening and I was feeling papri chaat. A deep and distinct craving for the sweet and sour chutney, fresh curd and hot spicy masala on the crisp papris. The tang of the chutneys would blend delicately with the subtle flavour of the base. Every bite would be a little different from the other, thus creating thousands of mini surprises within one small meal. It's not often that I crave for anything vegetarian, but this was one time. I expected the best. I was ready to pay for the best.

However, I was in Prabhadevi and I didn't have a computer to do a quick google search, nor did I call my blogger friends up to get advice on where I would get a good chaat (like the real Delhi stuff). Elco Bandra was too far away. Hence, we decided to do what an average Mumbaikar would do (irrespective of whether he wants chaat, chane ki daal, charpaai or even chainlock). We went to Phoenix mills.

We were first accosted by the Chamosa stall. It does sell like hot cakes, I must admit, but a samosa won't do when I want a papri. So, we decided to move on to the food lane right outside of Big Bazaar. I saw chaat mentioned in big bold letters next to the steamed corn stall.

Excuse the digression, but what's with these corn stalls anyway. They are the scourge of good taste. They are mushy and watery, the flavours are synthetic to say the best, the visual appeal is of a blank notebook minus the anticipation, the lemon, which is the only hope of salvaging the dish, is sprinkled by people from a particular Western state (sorry, couldn't resist!!).

Anyway, coming back, chaat was observed on the board and my eyes lit up for a second. Just for a second. Then, they went back to their usual serene self! It was lime corn chaat. Shit on Toast. Visually.

We looked some more and did spot this promising heading on the board above the food counter. We rushed forward squinting hard at the letters written in the wrong colour scheme. All to no avail. Chaat was available, but in the forms of Pani puri, Sev Puri, Dahi Puri and Bhel Puri. No Papri here. I almost made a vow to take back my vote for Bombay on the food stakes. Then I remembered a day in Delhi, when I craved squids.

I was feeling forlorn by the entire experience. The Girl and a few friends were having pani puri, which felt nice. I only had one choice left. Go to Bombay Blue.

Bombay Blue is an epitome of what can go wrong with Indian fast food. And how that doesn't stop any customers from coming in. It has a curious mix of dishes, from Lebanon to South of India to Mexico, all of which are strictly passable. However, it was the only place which offered a papri.

So, I didn't even bother looking for the menu, and I asked for the papri and a nachos with beans. Then, we got engrossed in our puzzles, which are a feature of the tablemats. I could spot 12 differences between two pictures and also found 7 of the 10 shapes starting with P in a jumble diagram. Then, the beans and nachos came. We ate.

Then, the moment of truth. A large bowl of curd with green and red chutney on top with a garnish of four thick chips on four corners of the bowl. The curd was okay, so was the chutney and the five pieces of tikki or cholley. However, there was no papri in it. Instead, the four thick chips, looking like threptin biscuits, were masquerading as some unmentionable thing.

It was a shady, ugly, distasteful, boondi raita with digestive biscuits. And they dared charge me for a Papri chaat. How I miss Delhi sometime?


Blogger corporate whore said...

I think its highly unfair to go to the mother-of-all-malls in Slumbai, wade into Bombay Blue and order chaat and complain. Wrong place, wrong food. Its like asking for an english breakfast in Delhi Devils in South Ex. Or going to the Provogue store and asking for Cocaine. Good chaat can be found in Jhama, a joint in Chembur, where the majority of the crowd is either fat, or eating its way there. Recommended : dahi puri, punjabi samosa, followed by dhokla and one rabdi.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006 9:02:00 AM

Anonymous Razib Ahmed said...

I enjoyed reading your blog and I liked the particular entry about Sweet bengal. I am a big fan of Shondesh too. If you ever can then come to bangladesh and you will be amazed to see that we have more than 30 kind of sweets.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006 10:16:00 AM

Anonymous haricane said...

The only reasonable papri chaat I've had in Bombay is at Papa Pancho in Bandra. But if you should be in Bandra, don't leave without trying the yummilicious sev-puri from the vendor who stands opposite Society supermarket in Chimbai(He's a one-trick pony, though -- his bhel-puri sucks)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006 6:23:00 PM

Blogger dhoomketu said...

Corp Whore, I agree.. I have also heard things about Elco. But the point was to rant against raita served as chaat

Razib, Thanks. One day, will come to Bangladesh. That's paterland in a way.

Haricane, Thanks for the suggestion. Seems like a Chaat weekend is on the cards!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006 9:34:00 PM

Blogger Swathi said...

brought a bright smile on my face since i had a similar experience last Saturday evening when my tongue suddenly craved for some ragda.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006 11:51:00 PM

Anonymous anjaly said...

hey!! my mouth waters!! cannot claim to have eaten papri chaat though yu make it seem like the food of the gods!! maybe when i pass by delhi sometime, i will just decide to eat it. till then, happy blogging!!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006 2:57:00 AM

Anonymous anjaly said...

hi yu have a travelblog column where some people have visited Lothal in Gujarat. wanted to leave a comment but am not a blogger in thatgrop. how do i get in touch with them? need some info on Lothal.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006 3:11:00 AM

Blogger dhoomketu said...

Swathi, where was this? Bombay should be able to dole out a decent ragda. Was this Delhi?? :-O

Anjaly, thanks. Food of the God it isn't, really. Must say I got a little carried away. But no reason not to have tasted it till now. Quick, quick.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006 3:11:00 AM

Blogger dhoomketu said...

Anjaly, it was I who visited Lothal... One of these days, I will change my profile to include email address.. Till then, just leave your email id here and I will contact you.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006 4:36:00 AM

Blogger FiNK said...

I miss Chaat! you can't beat the behl from south ex or the pani puri at gk... aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!! take me home, chaat road

Friday, June 23, 2006 4:50:00 AM

Blogger Reeta Skeeter said...

hv stayed in pune(for studies) and m a resident of delhi...even i was taken by back by the stuff(street food) that is served in maharashtra land...then, i started develpoing a taste for it... and now, i can enjoy the bombay wala garam choley se bhara hua panipuri aas much as i njoy saddi dilli's golgappe!! the difference b/w dilli chaat(in the broad sense of the word) and mumbai chaat is a topic which cannot end!!

Saturday, July 22, 2006 8:17:00 AM


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