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Wednesday, Feb 11, 2004

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Mouthful of joy

The Dilli Chaat Mela at the Taj Residency brings different kinds of tangy `chaats'

Photo: P. V. Sivakumar

VERY FEW eatables have such an irresistible appeal like chaats, apart from cakes. Despite the fact that consuming chaat at roadside shacks or bandis is unsafe and may cause illness, the lure and tangy tempt of a panipuri or sevpuri, bhel or samosa chaat is almost impossible to resist. Even the ultra-health conscious Japanese succumbed to the pull of panipuris at The Blue Flower restaurant in Taj Residency - the venue for the ongoing `Dilli Chaat Mela'.

Foreigners were seen tucking away at the chutar-butars endlessly, and can Indians be left behind? The first-of-its-kind chaat festival (from February 6-15) by any hotel drew a motley crowd of enthusiasts queuing up to experience a mouthful of joy. The menu - an extensive list of about a dozen different kinds of chaat, keeps changing everyday.

Strongly recommended chaats by Sous chef Sameer Mulaokar are, vegetable cutlets, pav bhaji, ragada patties, dahi puri, samosa chaat and lacchaa katori and sev puri. Paneer ka chilla is a favourite item of chaat maharajas in Indore. "It looks like a small dosa with paneer and chaat masala served with coriander, curd and mint chutney and tamarind water. It has been a great sell-out here too," he says.

Panipuris come in a filling of your choice: aloo, spinach and pineapple. Only you have to fill it yourself. The goli dahi vada is simply sublime. It melts in the mouth like butter, and is served with saunth ki chutney and meetha that makes the vada more delightful.

The level of spices has been considerably toned down bearing in mind guests from other countries. "Only mineral water has been used. Every single preparation has been made in keeping with our standards, even the patties and pav is from our own bakery," adds the chef. What a time to indulge in an experience like this when the nip in the air is chilling you out.

The wide array of the tidbits makes up for a wholesome meal. One can have unlimited number of helpings and as many chaats as are there for just Rs.149 in a Teflon-coated, germ-free environ and that, utterly free from the thought of those dreadful diseases.

A few things in life are, however, best eaten wherever they are meant to be.


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