EATING OUT Navrathri is the time for chaat. Try out the variety at a fest on in Beanz n Brainz
Downing basket cheese chaat along with mighty sips of jaljeera is a great way to start a chaat soiree. As the name suggests, the dish comes in little crispy baskets, filled with finely chopped onion, tomato, coriander and sev mixed with tangy sauce. These are garnished with a liberal dose of grated cheese. Ameesha K. Shah, owner of Beanz n Brainz, which is hosting a Chaat Festival, says one may not find this at the local chaat vendor in the city. “It is a popular item in the chaat bastions such as Mumbai and Ahmedabad. But not easily available in south India,” she adds. “It is the cheese that gives it a yummy twist.”
The idea of the festival is to bring to Kochi some of the chaats that are popular outside the State, especially during this season. “Navrathri is the time for chaat. The mood is festive and families generally go out in the evenings for chaat,” Ameesha says. That is not to say the festival has not included the staples such as bhel puri. The menu boasts a selection of chaats including lesser-known stuff such as the dabeli. The dabeli is a spicy Gujarati delicacy made by mixing boiled potatoes with a unique masala and is served with bun and a combination of spicy chutneys. The spice mix for dabeli is not easily available in Kerala, so the ingredients had to be sourced one by one to prepare it at the restaurant.
Including paani puri, sev puri, sev papdi, aloo tikki, masala puri, paani puri with ragda, dahi puri and vada pav, about 12 varieties of chaat are available at the festival. The assorted chaat platter would be ideal for those who want a taste of it all at one go. Most of the chaats come in Jain versions too, sans potatoes and onions. “It is hard to find variety in vegetarian food in Kerala. A chaat festival in that sense is a celebration for a vegetarian palate,” Ameesha says.
Among the soft drinks, you will not find the routine lime juice or the aerated fare. Instead, there is kokum fizz, a punch made from the kokum fruit and the soothing jaljeera. There is masala cola, too.
The festival is from 11 a.m. to midnight till October 20 at Beanz n Brainz on M.G. Road.