Chaat


This is simply the best Gujarati canteen style restaurant in the city.

Rows of plastic seats on the pavement outside are for patrons willing to wait, over an hour at times, to get a chance to enjoy the top class gujju fare inside. Snacks, as their name suggests, are their forte and for well over a decade they have excelled at that.

They prepare a very good sev puri, but we recommend the bhel puri, with an additional request to make it spicy. The pani puri is very good as well, but the dahi puri is marginally better. The service is lightning quick for these dishes, so order one if you have been waiting a while.

What’s truly unique to Swati is that they offer rarely found authentic gujju dishes. They offer some excellent bajra roti with guava shaak (vegetable). This can be a bit dry for some. The highlight (and must have dish) is the Panki. Batter steamed within banana leaves, and served with a green chilly pickle – the name does not reveal just how tasty a dish this truly is. Peel back the banana leaves, and peer through the steam to see a thin layer of batter clinging to the leaf. Scrape it off with a spoon or by hand and savour it without the pickle first. When done, we were left with the question – what does this go best with? The answer came quickly – another round of Panki.

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 Do ask the busy waiters for any specials. In mango season, definitely try the traditional gujju puri & aam ras.

For drinks, we pick the sugarcane juice. They have several excellent fruit juices as well as jal jeera. Take your pick – you really can’t go wrong here.

The service is fast, helpful and courteous. The ambience is basic with steel and wood for the tables and benches. Tables are close to each other, so dont expect privacy – that is not what you should want anyway.

My recco – Get here early to avoid the crowds. Order a Panki, a seasonal special & one of the gujju chaat dishes.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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Its always tough to review a chain restaurant and so we will talk about the one franchise we have visited most often. The one at Kala Ghoda, Rampart Row or Fort (depending on whom you speak to).

Bombay Blue has been around for years now and has its passionate fans. Its the place you take your friends to get a taste of pretty much every style of cuisine urban India enjoys. Chaat, Punjabi, Mediterranean, Sizzlers & Mexican – they all have their place in this joint. Multi-cuisine restaurants are typically “masters of none”. Blue does a decent job of maintaining authenticity, except in Mexican which is rubbish.

If I were you, I would stick to one of the Indian dishes or a sizzler for the main course. The appetizers have a wide range too, and here we would root for the onion rings. The correct amount of extra flavouring makes it a great start to the meal and easy enough to share. The Nachos were much hyped but the cheese seems canned and a bit too “readymade” for my taste.

The main course has several good dishes and the punjabi range is actually very good. No surprise, considering they share a kitchen with the legendary Copper Chimney. Try the black dal or the paneer butter masala and you will be very happy. The naan is also excellent.

But, this is Bombay Blue, not your regular Punju joint. You must do it their way – hence we recommend the Veg Mini Meal. Basically a thaali, with limited portions, but more than enough to fill most of us. Drinks to accompany can be anything ranging from a thums up(not coke) float to lassi to fresh lime soda. All are consistently good.

The service was very good for us. This is one thing on which I have heard (& read) mixed reviews. However, our server was excellent, knowledgeable & helpful. The speed was good and they were courteous, so we will not ding them for this.

The only downside is that this place has now become too successful for its own good. What used to be 2-3 restaurants across Bombay has grown to become a nationwide chain. With it has set in, what we call the “Mickey D effect”. Like McDonald’s, the food is consistent, and middle of the road. It neither excels nor does it suck. So, what was a great breath of fresh air and deserving of the early praise it earned, has now become India’s answer to the fast food chains of the US. Much like those places, families gather here in a place of familiarity and seek out their favourites.

So, for the lack of romance and the “element of surprise”, we dock one half bone for what used to be a fine 4 bone eatery.

My recco – Go with your family and enjoy the good variety and flavours, but don’t expect anything extraordinary.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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The best pani puri in India, and by extension, the world! I could end the review right there…..

But I won’t!

Elco is an institution to Bandraites and really to many Bombayites. For those coming from Cal or Delhi, try this out to get authentic pani puri (different from puchkas and gol gappas). As I prefer a little spice, these kill anything else out there. A plus for the fussy stomach is that the water is filtered. Street sewage does NOT add flavour and Elco does a great job proving that.

Sev Puri, Bhel Puri, Dahi Alu chaat – all amazingly good. Showing Bombay’s position as the only Indian city with authentic food from different corners of the country (& not just Punjab), you get authentic Gujju & Punju chaat under one roof here. The Bombay dish of Pav Bhaji is better in other places and only ok here.

My favourite Indian sweet is done amazingly well here. Try out the Malai Kulfi (in a matka if you please) to extinguish fires started by the Pani puri or bhel puri.

The first restaurant to compete with Kailash Parbat in Ragda Pattice, the dish is quite good here. I would still give the nod to KP for this dish but that was a close fight indeed.

Situated in the heart of crowded & poorly planned Hill Road, Elco is a clean place that is packed most days. Ambience involves loud groups of families, friends and waiters. All set the mood for a casual meal with great food. The pricing is very, very economical and that is one big fat extra bone for them!

A special note – No one delivers food faster. I often have a total order size of ~ Rs.100 and get it delivered in 20 mins. The pizza places take the full half hour and are much closer to my place. Awesome biking speed by the Elco delivery boys!

My recco – Go for lunch, start with pani puri, order one more dish but save space for kulfi.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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Some times the heart desires good hearty food – no pretences, no fussing around. At such times, Punjab Sweet House at Pali Naka is a great bet.Located in a very competitive neighbourhood for restaurants, PSH is the old boy on the block. They have been around for a long time and I don’t see them going anywhere. The food matches the name and rarely attempts any deviations.The ambience is one of a busy chaat house. You jostle for space to get to the counter and drool on the hot jalebis, samosas and the like.

Their pani puri is passable. But, I would stick to Punjabi chaat dishes. The papdi chaat is divine and the best south of Lajpat Nagar. What I would recommend above all else is the hot samosa (divine in our now 6 month monsoon season). Ask for the chole or green chutney to accompany it, and you will be in heaven. A new discovery is their Dhokla. This bastion of punjabi-ness seems to have a gujju hidden in the kitchen. Very fluffy, light and tasty. You can pretty much try anything which you would opt for in a good punjabi snack joint.

Pricing is low, portions are large and flavour is consistently good.

My reccoShow up hungry and in a casual mood. Get some samosas, lassi and (if you must) sweets.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:punjabsweethouse-dec24.jpg

Having been raised very close to the original Kailash Parbat, I spent a good part of my childhood enjoying their snacks and sweets.

Malad has been starving for a quality snack joint outside InOrbit Mall. Enter KP Express, if you please. A small, efficient, clean version of the Colaba original. Same food, different ambience is the claim.

Thats a lofty claim and we took up their challenge and tested the menu. The fact that they are 100% vegetarian is a nice plus.

The chaat is all excellent – Sev Puri, Dahi Puri, Bhel Puri – all excellent. Pav Bhaji is actually better than I remember. We then tried the “main course” (read heavier snacks).

The Ragda pattice has always been their mainstay and it is awesome. The pattice were slightly overfried on the outside but perfectly done inside. The pattice was the correct consistency – not too thin, not too lumpy. The green chilly paste and onions formed a nice garnish to this simple dish. A must-have. Another fan favourite is Chola Batura. But, this was quite ordinary here. The Bathura were too crisp and the Chole lacked the punjabi richness.

A friend tried the Sindhi Kadi Rice, and that was not too shabby. The Thali meal was perfect for lunch. Not too big, and not too small either. The best part of the thali was the free Gulab Jamun. They could pretty much charge whatever they want for that dish -amazing still after all these years.

The ambience is ok. Pretty basic. We have been there twice and once half the joint was occupied by a kitty party, but I will not hold that against them. After all, everyone seemed happy enough! 🙂

My recco – Focus on the chaat and light snacks and try out the variety. Leave space for the Gulab Jamun and you will leave contented.

Check out the Hound Report Card for the final analysis:

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