Chaiwala

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Chaiwala

I was waiting for today for the past three weeks! The child was to resume school after the Christmas break. I meant to dance and prance away. And perhaps go to a cafe to get some coffee, take a stroll, eat some lunch with a glass of celebratory champagne!

The child woke up this morning, and danced in excitement about going back to school! So much that I’m sitting here, wondering if it’s a parenting fail that he’s more excited to go away on his own than I am, to pack him away!

The quiet coffee and champagne lunch will have to wait because my house is a mess as the “landlord” wants the windows of the entire unit replaced. So here I am, sitting atop all things moved away from the windows to make room for the people to do their work.

This Saturday, we went to Chaiwala of the Pirata Group. It’s a modern Indian restaurant quite an overcast, zippy look and feel. Situated in the basement on Wyndham street, you enter through British salon Hugger Mugger.  Space is big, with a bar area, a setup around the open kitchen and the more typical dining area. The music playing added to the whole “upbeat” vibe.

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Chef Balaji Balachander leads the culinary development here. I gather that it’s supposed to be eclectic Indian and we came with high expectations. And though the tall expectations weren’t met (more because Indian food’s under extra scrutiny, us being Indians), it was still a decent meal, and I’d recommend for the overall look, feel and vibe of the place. I’m surely going to give more of the Pirata Group restaurants a try.

Here’s what we ate.
Fried crisps on the house.
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Palak Patta, Shakarkandi Chaat – A take on Indian street food with spinach leaves coated in a chickpea flour batter, fried along with sweet potato crisps, spiced yoghurt dressing & house chutneys. The presentation on this was ace and the chutneys and yogurt dressing all came together harmoniously on both taste and looks, but the palak patta, fried had a thick coating + became quite chewy by the time we got to it. I recently had palak patta chaat cooked by the local chefs of Calcutta. And it was brilliant, for the crunch, amongst other things.
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Cheese Chaska was ordered by the husband. I would never order these things anymore because for some reason, I find them too last decade or antiquated. These were to be Amul cheese spiced & deep fried in balls, but they tasted more paneer than cheese to me. The presentation was very fine-dine style, with sauces, chutney mayo, lining the dish and these fried balls sitting atop.
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Bala’s Madras Vada were nice and crunchy beetroot, spinach and lentil fritters and screamed Southern Indian tastes. The chunky tomato chutney tasted very ketchup-y and tomato pickle mayo was great, which was also lined on the fried cheese balls.
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Saag Paneer is your classic spinach curry, with paneer or cottage cheese. The garlic tasted through, and it was a well executed. They sometimes dowse it in cream and make it runny, but this was very hearty, thick but still smooth. By the time it made to the table, though, it wasn’t piping hot and seemed like it was sitting for some time.
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Same was the case with the tandoori roti and naan – not right off the tandoor, for similar reasons I believe – sitting out for a bit before making it to the table. The roti looked thin and crisp. The naan was way too dense and could’ve done with a bit more rolling, flattening.
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The two drinks that I tried were Aam Wala – Wild Turkey bourbon, prosecco, Ancho Reyes mango, Indian curry leaves, basil syrup, lime. The mango puree was thick and the main taste of the drink.
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Next up was The Magic Lamp – Butter washed Plantation 3 stars rum, banana, citrus mix, dill, allspice, sage. The drink was very watered down, but the presentation was all jazzed up.
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We saw two tables celebrating birthdays and it had to be one of the most fun, where they had the people celebrating their birthdays crowned with flamboyant dupatta/saree for the ladies and headgear called pagdi for the gentlemen.

More photos and videos here –

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