Coming from Delhi – the land of fast food, chaat is high up on my list of mouth-watering delicacies, be it home-made or bought out.
During both my pregnancies I craved madly for chaat. Pregnancies are over, children have grown up but craving doesn’t still subside!
Chennai is far away from the land of chaats- Delhi, Bombay, or Calcutta, however, in the last ten years that I have been here I have seen the city grow and adapt itself to the needs of us immigrants, gracefully. Right from small thela- valahs to well constructed neatly glazed cha(a)t rooms with a/c have propped up everywhere!
The way I understand chaat is a bit different. It is more a concept than a mere recipe. I make it at home with this in mind; I use the concept and bend the recipes to include crazy flavour combinations to create a quick lip-smacking snack.
For example- pani poori balls, freshly fried filled with spicy salsa with tomatoes and chillies, topped with hung curd dressing flavoured with cool cucumbers and garlic. Corn salsa mixed with date sauce, topped with green chutney mixed with thick yogurt, garnished with sev and coriander leaves.
I recently came across a chaat joint in Chennai that has adopted this idea of creating chaat items with a twist – a place called Indiska Magic, Harrington road.
Here there is chaat with an interesting dimension. Each item on the menu is well thought out and brought on a plate testing your taste buds! And by that I DO NOT mean cheese is the most innovative addition! (By the way I think adding cheese to everything makes it nothing but ABCD!!!)
They have some originals on the menu which are unbeatable! The elusive pav bhaji.. It arrives on a sizzling platter, hot with the goodness of melting white butter straight from the hot wok with soft buns toasted with crunchy golden corners. It took me straight back ten years – to Haldirams in Delhi!
These are their special items. Their Lucknowi galoutis are crispy nan breads greased in fresh fat rolled with tangy goodness of veggies blended with soft panner. Each bite is a trip into flavour paradise!
Their Mathura ki bedmi poori aloo is NOT the usual ‘boorisaeedishh’ that we get everywhere else. The aloo is well cooked and seasoned, soaking in the goodness of a gravy with a yogurt base flavoured with rich turmeric and a spice powder that travels all the way from Mathura. It IS a secret! This is served with a pickle – soaked fenugreek with tamarind and greenchillies thrown in with whole fennel seeds. The combination is another trip all the way to food heaven and back!
They created the yummy but unhealthy aloo chaat into a healthy replacement with sweet potatoes instead of potatoes. Trust me you wont know the difference unless you have a keen sense of taste! It is so worth adopting this trick with difficult children and conning them into good food!
Their slushes were also very original. Kala khatta did not taste like an essenced cocacola like it usually does and their aam panna was filled with colour but had a naughty sweet and salt flavour that brought a smile on my face with each sip.
All I will say is DO NOT miss this place!
That is not it. They are the only outlet in Chennai to sell various kinds of baklawas and kunafas which are delicacies straight from the land of the Mediterraneans.