If your ideas of India, like mine, are informed by cinematic spectacles such as Monsoon Wedding, then you will be sorely disappointed by Chaat House; there's no color, no flash, no fabulous fabric set with sparkling mirrors … in short, and despite some posters of Bollywood stars, it's plain to a fault. Could be why most of the customers, all Indian save for the two of us, were doing takeout. Try it regardless.
But unless yours is an encyclopedic knowledge of Indian food, homework will be required. The menu board behind the order counter lists no descriptions, and if you get the same order taker we did, don't expect any help there either. Hint: quickly grab a small-print takeout menu and peruse it frantically. But try not to be too disappointed if order taker is reluctant to supply anything — the very thing you were dying to try — that would require any special work. So much for the mirchi, chilies filled with a spice mix and deep-fried.
The more familiar masala dosa was available, humungous, and very good, its delicate wrapper of rice and lentil flour a perfect foil for the filling of spiced potato. (The accompanying stew-like sambar and nutty chutney added little, however.) Also firmly in the chaat, or snacks, column was a Styrofoam plate of sev puri, puffy balls of mashed potato topped with a yogurt-like sauce sweetened with date then dusted with finely shredded noodles made of lentil flour. The lack of any detectable green chili meant that sweet prevailed, but the dish intrigued regardless.
We also tried more substantial plates. The chicken dum biriyani with seasoned basmati rice and halal chicken was satisfying but lacked cinematic pizazz; the goat curry, though seriously bony, was full-on Bollywood fabulous — tough and terrific all at once. Just like my image of India.
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