MUMBAI’S BEST CHAAT

CNNGo Asia recently had a feature on Mumbai’s best chaat as part of their Best Eats 2010.

Chaat is a  plate of snacks, typically served at road-side stalls or carts in India and Pakistan.  It started in the northwestern state of Gujarat and has become immensely popular in the rest of India and South Asia. The word chaat derives from Hindi and Prakrit and is a combination of the words for a tasting or delicacy and to devour with relish or eat noisily.  Thanks Wikipedia.

Chowpatty's bhel puri has a Mumbai-style beach flavor

Two other classics in the pantheon of Mumbai street food greats, sev and bhel puri, can be found at your neighborhood chaatwalla as well as the finest restaurants in five-star hotels. But to eat chaat at Chowpatty beach is to pay obeisance to this quintessential Mumbai food: sun, sand and sev puri go together perfectly.

For the uninitiated, sev puri consists of little fries discs of flour topped with diced potatoes, onions, crispy sev and three chutneys: tamarind, chili and garlic. Some stalls also add diced tomatoes and green mango bits, when in season. The bhel version is made with puffed rice instead of the disks.

“Savory, spicy, sweet, sour — four flavors in one bite, each with its own impact,” says Rushina Munshaw-Ghildiyal, Best Eats judge and food blogger. And the end result is usually, “spicy, yummy satisfaction!”

Try any of the beach stalls at Chowpatty, Marine Drive. Open daily 10am to midnight.

Paani puri are crisp, spicy water bombs, eaten in a single bite and gulp.

In New Delhi it’s called gol gappa. In Kolkata it’s called phuchka. In Orissa it’s called gupchup. In Mumbai it’s called paani puri. This pan-Indian street food favorite drew a lot of debate among the Best Eats judges for the regional variations it brought to the plate and which they thought was the best. But when in Mumbai, do as the Mumbaikars do, was the mantra finally adopted.

The dish itself is a simple combination of a crisp, hollowed-out bite-sized puri filled with chickpeas and potatoes and dipped into tamarind water mixed with chilies and chaat masala.  Dripping wet and overflowing with the spicy, flavorful water, you pop it into your mouth and crunch into it all at one go and wait for the explosion of tastes that follows. Swallow. Repeat. Standing right there on the street side.

“Depending on your spice-handling capacity, it may leave you teary eyed, but it will definitely leave you wanting more,” says Sanjiv Khamgaonkar, Best Eats judge and food blogger. “And after you’re done, drinking the leftover water (paani) in the plate is a tradition.” If you’re worried about contracting typhoid, don’t be. The paani puris at Punjab Sweet House are made with mineral water.

Dheeraj Arcade, opposite Jude Wine Shop, Pali Naka, Bandra (W); +91 (22) 2640 2221. Open daily 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

NYSF Note: We made pani puri at the Indian street food class we took early this year at Miette Culinary Studios and it was delicious.

And CNN Go’s winner for Best Chaat In Mumbai is:

winner

No ordinary sandwich this, it’s a food metaphor for what Mumbai is — crowded and tasty. Crammed with thin slices of boiled potato, cucumber, onion, tomato and beetroot and then sandwiched between slices of unhealthy white bread lathered with butter and special chili-mint chutney, even if this masterpiece isn’t officially “chaat” we’re bending the rules to make it fit. You can order the Bombay sandwich plain or toasted, and with or without a dollop of pumpkin sauce. Best of all, it’s chopped into bite-size pieces before being wrapped in newspaper and handed over to you.

Rushina Munshaw-Ghildiyal, Best Eats judge and food blogger loves biting into the many layers. “I look forward to the little bits that fall out and collect in the newspaper, all doused in chutney and sauce, to be picked with the fingers and relished,” she says. A bit like Mumbai, you’ve gotta get your hands dirty to really enjoy it.

There’s often more than one sandwich-walla per street, but our vote for the best vendor goes to Anil, who parks outside the gates of JB Petit School in Fort.

Anil, the sandwich-walla outside the gates of J B Petit High School for Girls, Maharishi Dadhichi Marg, Fort; Open 8 a.m.-11 p.m., timings may vary.

[CNN Go Asia]

In New Delhi it’s called gol gappa. In Kolkata it’s called phuchka. In Orissa it’s called gupchup. In Mumbai it’s called paani puri.This pan-Indian street food favorite drew a lot of debate among our Best Eats judges for the regional variations it brought to the plate and which they thought was the best.

But when in Mumbai, do as the Mumbaikars do, was the mantra our panel finally adopted.

The dish itself is a simple combination of a crisp, hollowed-out bite-sized puri filled with chickpeas and potatoes and dipped into tamarind water mixed with chilies and chaat masala.

Dripping wet and overflowing with the spicy, flavorful water, you pop it into your mouth and crunch into it all at one go and wait for the explosion of tastes that follows.

Swallow. Repeat. Standing right there on the street side.

“Depending on your spice-handling capacity, it may leave you teary eyed, but it will definitely leave you wanting more,” says Sanjiv Khamgaonkar, Best Eats judge and food blogger. “And after you’re done, drinking the leftover water (paani) in the plate is a tradition.”

If you’re worried about contracting typhoid, don’t be. The paani puris at Punjab Sweet House are made with mineral water.

Read more: CNNGo Best Eats: Mumbai’s best chaat | CNNGo.com #1 http://www.cnngo.com/mumbai/eat/cnngos-best-eats-awards-2010/mumbais-best-street-food-892344?page=0,0#ixzz17vVhRGnl

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.