If you are a not a lover of chaat (not Chat) then I would request you to stop reading at this point and move on to other blog posts of mine.
I am glad you are a chaat lover. Are you part of an elite crowd that eats chaat anywhere, even in roadside shops? Then read on…
My affair with the chaat started when I was in school. I would be taken by amma to Ajnabee in Fountain Plaza and I would order the Bhel Puri everytime. It was my favourite chaat. Well I would rather say it was the only chaat that I had ever tasted until then. The Bhel Puri is such an amazing food item. It is not just a snack it can be a meal by itself. It has chopped vegetables, some chutney, puffed rice, and it gives out lot of joy. Have you ever wondered where that sound comes from when they make the bhel puri, it is from the bhel which gives out such happy noises from the vessel. For some reason I did not consider the Pav Bhaji to be part of the Chaat family. Ok I will come back to the Pav Bhaji in a bit.
It was only while I was in college that I discovered the variety that chaat offered. Dahi Papdi, Dahi Balle, Dahi Puri, Sev Puri, Raj Kachori, Katori Chaat, Samosa Channa, Kachori with mint and tamarind chutney and the list goes on… I would save up money and go eat in Gangotree usually on Saturdays with a few friends (Harsh, Pintoo) mostly for the chat but also for the bird-watching opportunities it presented. The other place we frequented usually on Wednesdays after bunking college was Bombay Lassi, off Ellis Road (Behind Devi Theatre). 1 Samosa, 1 Kachori and one glass Lassi and of course this was usually after fighting to get hold of Rs. 10 ticket at Devi.
After College I managed to go to Delhi for higher studies or “Delhi Return MBA boy” as my cousin calls me. It was only in Delhi that I managed to taste Aloo Tikki, Gol Gappas (It is just Pani Pooris but Delhiites swear that the two are different like the sun and the moon) and now entered Channa Batura into my view. The CB in Khan Market and Chandni Chowk are bleddy out of the world and it is not the same stuff we get in New Woodlands Hotel in Chennai. Also in Delhi they have this thing of adding Chaat Masala to everything. Fruits with Chaat masala, Chaat with Chaat Masala, Nimbu Paani with Chaat Masala, Orange juice with chaat masala. They seemed to be in love with the Chaat which made them Chaaty…
In the mean time I had been tasting Pav Bhaji in Chennai, Delhi and Bangalore to name a few places but nothing appealed to my senses. When I was in Mumbai in 2008 I tried the Pav Bhaji at Chowpatty Beach and it was the most sinful, taste bud tickling, lustful Paav Bhaji that I had ever tasted. No wonder the people of Mumbai are in love with it. I think it has something to do with the speed with which people live the life in Mumbai.
I don’t eat at Gangotree anymore because of the unhygienic way in which the food is kept lying around. Even the roadside Paani Poori guy keeps better hygiene. Shree Mithai is what I am left with in the city and it is not the greatest chaat that I have eaten.
Ofcourse the greatest chaat you get in Chennai is in Mint street. So many roadside vendors and such great taste. What is your favourite chaat and where do you get your chaat fix in your city?