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?