A time long ago my job was outsourced and I was made redundant. Ironically my next destination was probably where it was outsourced to. I left the organised routine and structures of London life, for the somewhat chaotic streets of Bangalore. As soon as I arrived I fell in love with the colourful flavours of Indian cuisine. In Britain we think of Indian food as chicken Tikka Masala and a pint of Cobra – this is far from the truth, I never once saw a Cobra beer or in fact much that resembled our beloved Saturday night takeaway.
Now what I did see and what brings me to Chit Chaat Chai, was street food vendors galore serving a multitude of foods in all different shapes and sizes each one unique to that region of India. Vendors usually specialised in just one item – now at Chit Chaat Chai they have made a restaurant focusing on these energetic flavours.
My boss and I popped over for a quick lunch on Tuesday last week during their soft launch. We ordered a collection of dishes to share and sat in the newly decorated upstairs perching on the long benches. We perched for a while, actually quiet a while, but we will excuse this as I suppose this is what soft launches are for.
The food arrived and it most certainly was the scoff I had recalled in imagery from the cogs above. The flavours of Northern India were capsuled in a terrific Pani Puri that had an explosion of tangy water encompassing the sweet flavoured chickpeas. This was a true delight as it is something so very unique in texture and flavour too.
Keema Pau that was described on the menu as an Indian sloppy Joe is something that I had never tried before. It had a rich buttery flavour that worked in tandem with the evident flavours of Masala and what I believe was a mixture of minced chicken and lamb. Similar to this dish was the Pau Bhaji, although it was vegetarian it paraded a very similar flavour and texture to that of the Keema, both of these dishes were served with a couple of soft white breads and a miniature salad of cucumber, onion and tomato that added that extra desired texture. A little bit of bite.
Our fourth dish was a Chilli Paneer, I don’t know if my boss noticed but I will now admit to hogging this dish just a little. The origin of the dish is unknown to me – I would imagine up in the Northeast around Calcutta or even in the mountains of Leh. I do adore the texture of fried Paneer as it squeaks across your teeth, the chilli and pepper sauce gave it an abundance of flavour. It has a strong Chinese influence, this is a fusion dish that has been around a long time before Wolfgang Puck decided to put Wontons on top of a chicken salad. Influenced most defiantly by the Sichuan region this dish was by far my favourite.
All in all it was a nice trip, but they must work on the speed of service as our quick lunch took well over an hour. I would recommend it as it something very different to what us Brits think is Indian food. This meal reminded me of the true flavours of India rather than having myself ponder in wonder how they achieved that nuclear orange colour.
By Oliver Ivey