Good chaat is hard to find. Chaat of any kind to make the cut has to be, as a friend put it, saucy. That is the elusive intangible quality that adds fire to chaat, if it’s tame it ain’t chaat.
Therefore when an eatery calls itself 365 Chaat Hut we need to check it out! It’s called so, not because there are 365 kinds of chaat but because…you know, the number of days in a year. We are told the shop plans to be open 365 days, no ‘chuttis’. There is this whole chaat shop feel to it, there is no kitchen you can see how its all ‘cooked’. It’s a small place, though, but if you feel like a ‘drive in’, just sit in your car (of course outside the joint), order and eat.
The eatery is on the main avenue in Panampilly Nagar. Not too hard to find. The idea, according to Dinesh Pillai of Chaat Hut, is to get Mumbaiyya street food to Kochi. So say hello to the ubiquitous Ragada Pattice, Pav bhaji, Pani puri, vada pav, Batata vada etc.
Batata vada, so far has been met with resistance, because to the Malalyali palate there is no difference between bonda and batata vada. The others on the menu are doing fine, says Dinesh.
Since its lunch time, Dinesh insists on a ‘mini meal’, a lunch. A roti, samosa, mixed bhaji (bhaji is curry, can be any curry), chole bhaji, curd, pickle, ice cream and a cold drink (75 ml) is the special meal (Rs. 75) and the regular one has rice, a gravy dish, curd and tomato pulao (Rs. 65). We go mini on the mini, since we are there for the chaat.
Pav bhaji, sev puri, bhel puri, samosa pav and pani puri are what Dinesh recommends. Dunking soft pav, slightly browned by lightly frying in butter in the fiery looking bhaji…ummm. The samosa pav – pav slathered with minty green chutney and sweet tamarind chutney with a slightly mashed samosa for filling…mover over subways. The eats were washed down with sweet and milky masala chai, Mumbai ishtyle, or so we are told. All passed muster, only that if you like your chaat ‘chatpata’ (tangy and spicy) then you will have to ask. “Right now we are testing the spice element to see how much spice is spicy,” says Dinesh.
By the way the eats can be broadly classified under seven heads – chaats, (varieties of) Punjabi chole batura, Mumbai Pav Bhaji, Burger, Dosa, Sandwiches and Frankie. Then there are beverages such as tea, coffee, fruit juices and milk shakes etc. If you want to have a party, there is enough space for around 100 people, Chaat Hut caters for functions too.