…in Mumbai, India. Crisp, tasty and vegetarian – thought still very bad for you – Mumbai’s papri chaat is the Indian snack this chef and food writer dreams of savouring.
None of my trips to India would be complete without at least one stop at my favourite street food joint for my beloved Papri Chaat.
Crispy deep-fried pastry comes topped with cold mashed potatoes and smothered with cooling yogurt and sticky, sweet tamarind chutney. It’s finished off with some love-hate chaat masala (a sour, salty spice powder) and a good sprinkling of sev (more deep-fried goodness, but this time they are in the shape of superfine gram flour noodles).
It’s utterly delicious and the sweet, sour and tangy flavour leaves you wanting more which is what chaat is all about. It’s literal translation means ‘to lick’ and you will find a whole host of different dishes calling themselves chaat all over India.
Elco in the seafront suburb of Bandra, is my favourite place to eat chaat. In the streets around Elco you can actually see impatient diners pour out onto the street eager for their chaat fix – I can’t resist the hustle and bustle of it all.
Whether you’re going for vada pao or aloo tikki (varieties of potato fritter), or crisp hollow pani puri, at Elco you immediately get a waft of chaat masala, and hot oil as you arrive. Before you know it, your chaat is on the table and your taste buds have come alive. Whenever I cook it myself, it instantaneously transports me to the loud, enchanting streets of Mumbai, making me dream of my next trip away to that mystical city.