Tag Archives: chaat

Très Chic Trèsind!

Tresind Interiors
Tresind Interiors

It’s an art exhibition. Tresind is. Only difference is that you can eat the art exhibits. That makes Tresind a must-visit place for culinary art lovers. Nestled in Radisson Hotel, on Sheikh Zayed Road, Tresind rustles up some superlative Indian dishes in a progressive, modernist fine dine approach.

Zaatar Pav and Hummos
Zaatar Pav and Hummos

Let me explain what I mean, when I said ‘superlative’. It is not an adjective I use because the food on my plate was so good-looking that I made peace with the taste. No. It is superlative because of the strong loyalty towards the right taste of the Indian dish. And superlative plating style that could have you suspecting a Monet’ signed on the plate. The sign that one doesn’t see is that of Executive Head Chef Himanshu Saini who has developed the wonderful menu.

My wife and I tried the recommended Chef’s Tasting Menu. It is good to submit to the chef and see what taste route they want you to take. We sat by the window, enjoying some hand-picked English retro music when the handsome chef Angad walked in to take us through the sapid journey.

Then on, it was almost like a scene out of Satyajit Ray’s “Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne” where food appears, relentlessly, on the table and food so delicious that you could eat your finger and not miss it (until you sign your credit card slip).

Here’s my highlights from the Chef Tasting Menu:

Deconstructed GolGappa: burst of flavours
Deconstructed GolGappa: burst of flavours

The deconstructed Gol Gappe: the true deconstruct of this street food favourite, it was served in a china ladle with ‘boondi’ or chickpea flour globules. Those sat around a sci-fi looking roundel of green mint chutney and red tamarind chutney, together. So when you slide in the entire spoonful in your mouth, you get the exact flavour burst of “Gol Gappe” like you would expect.

Brewing creativity: Mushroom 'Tea'
Brewing creativity: Mushroom ‘Tea’

The Mushroom ‘Tea’: Now that would be out-of-the-box. I couldn’t, for the life of me, comprehend what it would taste like. Now that is part of the ‘building anticipation’ game. A mushroom soup came in a transparent tea-pot along with some fancy tea china ware. A few thin slices of dehydrated mushrooms were thrown into the cup, with a small spoon of truffle powder and the hot mushroom broth filled up to the brim. The hot liquid hydrated the mushrooms and the truffle added to the taste. A sip of it and I was sitting as gleefully as a child with his favourite toy in hand.

Chaat Art
Chaat Art

The Chaat Trolley: A dapper, young Chef Tarun wheeled in a trolley with a huge tray covered with butter paper. It is like a personalised cooking demo of a ‘chaat’. The crumbly crisps were laid out and the special chutneys and yoghurt artistically spilled over. The ‘dhokla’ was lowered into the sinister looking liquid nitrogen chamber; taken out after sometime and crushed over the chaat. It felt like the famous scene from Terminator 2 Judgement Day when where James Patrick freezes and crumbles after being dunked in liquid nitrogen. The crushed ‘dhokla’ was hydrated with some curry leaves butter milk. Seeds of pomegranate were sprinkled on and voila! Like a canvas soaking up fresh paint, our street chaat was ready. You will notice it to have the same taste that you get from your local street vendor but in a funky new packaging!

Signature dish: Aam Papad Lamb Chop
Signature dish: Aam Papad Lamb Chop

This preparation took my breath away. ‘Aam-papad’ Lamb Chops! Mango fruit leather melted down into a gooey, Indian BBQ sauce-like coating, stuck to the juicy lamb chops. It was a delight to my taste buds. While I was surprised at how beautifully Chef Himanshu used a sweet condiment as a marinade for lamb chops, I was also admiring the taste profile of both ingredients. By golly, it was a non-vegetarian lolly!

Special mention of the palette cleanser ‘dahi-bhalley’ ice cream that out-did my wildest culinary dream! If that is one flavour that my local grocery store would stock, I’d buy a tub every week!

We had to ask the service to stop feeding us. The plates never stop coming and the food doesn’t stop surprising you. I strongly recommend the Chef Tasting Menu if you don’t want the hassle of reading a menu and ordering a dish.

The gorgeous Tresind Interior
The gorgeous Tresind Interior

Going double or in a party, Tresind will get you going with its immaculate service and fine flavours. I guarantee the food will get your liking for Indian cuisine hiked up; not so sure about the French though.

Get fed like a bull!

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Dev J Haldar is the program director of South Asian radio station Suno1024, an academic and a food critic. Follow his weekly column on Masala.com.

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Chāt It Up!

Chat. Or Chāt. This simple, 4 letter word, finds a huge resonance in the lives of most South Asians. The first usage would be in English and the second would be in Hindi (or Urdu). Truth is, no Indian or Pakistani, can ever survive without either.

The CHAAT of good times
The CHAAT of good times

This is no occasion to discuss the English meaning, so we steer over to the vernacular connotations of ‘chāt’. Chāt is a culture. It is about the times when people are out, no matter what the barometer reads, to stuff their faces with their favourite chāt. A good chāt goes a long way in cementing relationships, finding new love, downing after-office hunger pangs and getting over boredom. A chāt centre is also a study of brand building – be it in the way the cart owner greets new customers or by giving a little something extra to repeat customers. Remember, your local chāt-waley bhaiyya? You might not remember his name, but you still remember him as chāt-waley bhaiyya! That is branding and recall!

A good chāt can define a person, shop, locality, and city even. If you don’t believe me, as any Indori about their chāt locality called ‘Chhappan’ and brace up to not talk for the next 20 minutes because you are salivating like Garfield in front of canned tuna.

The humble chāt is a tasty mix of flavours and spices, hot and cold textures, sweet and savoury and has many, shall we say, variations to it. A chāt menu can be very exhaustive and more challenging than an agency copy test. For those that know, salivate thinking of aloo tikka chat, papdi chaat, dahi bhalla, gol gappey, sev puri, bhel puri, jhaal moori! It’s just scratching the top, really. In fact nobody has considered it seriously but there is a chāt critic in all South Asians. We are the same commentators who feel that Sachin Tendulkar should have hit the ball a little to the off-side; and the tamarind chutney in the chāt is not tangy enough.

The experience of eating chāt starts long before a loaded plate is handed over. It begins with the customer peering over to see all the ingredients laid out, in invitation. Sorry Subway, move over; we’ve been at it since Adam’s. Then it is the magic of the person who loads up goodies on the plate and sprinkles different masalas with more aplomb than Emiril. Bam! Swirl on some spicy, tangy chutney, throw on some ginger juliennes and there you have it – the perfect plate of chāt.

That modest chāt assumes different hues of taste and flavour as one travels across the length and breadth of India. Newer items get added to the family of chat. Sometimes, popular chāt items get known in 3 or 4 different names. Of course there are epicurean critics who can theorise the difference in anatomy of a Bengali ‘phuchka’ to that of a Punjabi ‘gol-gappe’ over its Western poor cousin ‘pani puri’. So you see, getting together a plate of chāt right, is perhaps, tougher than pleasing Gordon Ramsey. Should you find anybody who can make the perfect chāt, marry the person!

One of the first things I was looking for when I landed in Dubai was a good chāt. My search took long with many trials, re-trials and tribulations. I am listing down the top 5 places where you can get a good chāt.

My recommendations are:

  1. Elco Chat Center in Karama for Pani Puri. Bengali’s might want to drive till the border of Sharjah for some ‘Phuchka’ at Calcutta Fast Food.
  2. Chatori Galli for some North Indian style treats like Papdi Chaat, Raj Kachodi and Jalebi Chaat.
  3. Urban Tadka (Karama / Discovery Gardens) for Bhel Puri, Sev Puri, Ragda Pattice and Pani Puri with Ragda.
  4. Puranmal for Vada Pao, Aloo Bonda.
  5. Bombay Chowpatty for Samosa Chaat, Dahi Bade, Papdi Chaat.

Now, if the desi in you is doing a jig because you are yearning that sunshine back home with street feasts and unending hours of fun while hot cups of ‘chai’ keep arriving along with piping hot samosas and vada paos, then, this is news for you.

The first-ever Masala Food Fair is here. 2 days of desi picnics, street-eats, and restaurant favourites, celebrity-sighting (Raveena Tandon promises to show up – wipe that gravy) and live cooking demo by celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor! Save the dates – 20th and 21st of February at Zabeel Park, Dubai. Log on to masala.com/foodfair for more or look up #MasalaFoodFair on Twitter.

You will probably spot me there with a spoon in hand. See you there!

PS: my auto correct has resigned. It couldn’t agree with all the desi street eats thrown in here!

Also featured on Masala Magazine Online: http://www.masala.com/masala-food-fair-special-5-places-in-dubai-that-serve-best-chats-188871.html