Monday, March 1, 2010

Culinary Yatra- Part 2

We only had close to 6 weeks to spend in India and so my time to try out various eateries was running out as we neared the half way point. One of my all time favourite and comforting Indian cuisine is Chaat.

I have no idea what chaat can even translate to so I googled. Wiki came up with this-

@Adyar Bakery, Chennai
- Chaat
is plate of savoury snacks, typically served at road-side tracks from stalls or carts in India.
Some of the typical dishes included on a chaat menu are
  • Samosas - everyone knows what these are!! (with green cilantro/mint chutney and sweet n sour tamarind chutney)
  • Pakoras - deep fried veggie fritters
  • Pani puri - miniature puris in which you pour in a spoonful of masala water and shove it on your mouth in one shot, savouring every single bite
  • Bhel puri - enough said.

  • Vada pav- This is where they sandwich two vada (fried lentil patties) in between soft pieces of bread, and serve with a variety of sauces.
  • Pav Bhaji- a spicy vegetable curry sidedish typically made with potatoes, hot green chillies, onion and peas served with warm buttery mini buns and a wedge of lemon. OH SO GOOD!!!
  • Aloo Tikki with Channa- Fried Potato Patties, sort of like mini burgers, with spicy chick peas on the side.
  • Veggie Puff- Puff pastry with a spicy vegetable filling. There was also the paneer puff with paneer (homemade cheese) filling. This technically is not on a chaat menu but is one of my all time childhood favourite items I've had growing up in Chennai and it tasted just the same this time around.
[[ There's so much more..... i need to take a break to wipe the drool off. ]]

I was not going for a one-time chaat experience.... I wanted multiple. It's hard to find a remotely authentic chaat place in Nashville so I went for a once-a-week chaat fix, of course not eating all items everytime but there were a few repetitions. LOL. Adyar Bakery, a local bakery that was about 10 minute walk from where we lived, had a little seat in area where you could order chaat and fresh juices. We mostly ordered to go, so we could share with the rest of the fam. They also had freshly made pastries and cakes. 3pm- that was the time the batch was fresh so that's when you had to be there to get the best of the lot. You know these things after a couple trips there.

And then there was Adyar Anand Bhavan where the Chaat Creator makes your dish with such ease and perfection, it's hard not to drool. A lot of these dishes contain about 5 or 6 spice mixtures and each time it tastes just perfect!! There's a chaat place every few blocks where kids hang out at after school, and adults to grab a snack before a movie or after work. And most of them don't even break a sweat eating the spicy goodness.

Obviously I was way to busy eating I never took any pictures. Boo.

Deccan Plaza, Royapettah, Chennai
- This is the old Ajanta Hotel and was a 10 minute walk from my parent's place. Olivers is the restaurant in this hotel and features an impressive buffet, all vegetarian. And I mean IMPRESSIVE, so much so that I went there 2 times in one week (with different people). The second time we went was Christmas Day and maybe it was my imagination but the buffet was even more grand! Uh Oh!! Dishes ranged from about 10 different salads, a variety of north, south, gurajati, rajasthani curries, South Indian dosais and red/green (Christmas special) idlis and chutneys. How come no one ever told me about this jewel of a dining establishment ever before? Indian food typically does not include salads so suffice to say my sister and I went nuts eating plate after plate of salad- coleslaw, garden salad, corn/black bean salad, potato salad, fruit salad... yada yada yada. Moving on to other dishes- Mac N cheese, veggie casserole, pasta primevara.. the variety of non Indian dishes was mind boggling, I'm telling ya. After nearly 6 weeks of eating primarily Indian delicacies it was very refreshing to eat a few fried taters and salad. So the second time I went there, I was armed with my camera and proudly took pics even before the buffet was officially open.

Array of Salads!!


White chocolate Santa!!!!!!!

Cascade Restaurant, Besant Nagar, Chennai
- Indo Chinese Cusine.
Eating here added another dimension to the dining experience in Chennai. Indo Chinese is a unique blend of Indian flavours melded into traditional Chinese dishes. I am not a fan of American Chinese .. typically includes a lot of salt, soy sauce and not much flavour wise. My husband, sister and I met up with my cousin, G at Cascade near his home. We feasted on many things- not really speaking a whole lot during the meal. Serious chowing y'all.

Baby Corn fritters with sweet n spicy dipping sauce

Chinese Noodles (Rice noodles) with veggies and a hint of spice

A savoury warm salad with sprouts, cabbage, cukes, broccoli and carrots and soy seasoning in an adorable edible cup!
Salad shots!!!

And finally...... desserrrrt....... vanilla icecream with fresh lychees!! HEAVEN!!!

And that concludes the Yatra. Hope reading this has inspired you to someday pack your bags and visit the great Nation of India where there is much to be explored and tasted.


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