Location: London, United Kingdom
I have a confession to make: I am not the biggest fan of Indian food. *GASP* I know. How can I move to London and not appreciate all the good Indian food out here? Well, as I’ve come to realise, there is a lot of bad Indian restaurants. But, even still when I went to allegedly solid or good Indian places, I still didn’t like it. I think it has always been something about the overcooked produce or meat in a really heavy sauce. I was sad to dismiss an entire cuisine altogether because I really tried to like it, but to no avail. And then I went to Roti Chai.
My friend Shally enlightened me by pointing out that there are so many different regional cuisines in India. Just because I didn’t like Indian food thus far doesn’t mean that I’ve signed off on it forever. I just haven’t had the right kind of Indian food for me. Roti Chai is the definition of what is right for me. It is both a dining room and a street kitchen with different menus. But, I highly recommend the Street Kitchen! The food is awesome and is inspired by street hawkers, roadside cafes, and railway stations.
Victor and I decided to go all out and ordered almost all the vegetarian options. First out was the Pani Puri, which was probably my favourite thing! It is just so darn good. It’s semolina shells filled with potato, chickpea, and tamarind ‘imli’ which is then served with a jug of spiced ‘jal jeera’ cumin water. You pour the liquid into the shells and eat it quickly.
And then all of a sudden, the rest of the dishes came out by storm. First, the Bombay Bhel Puri which is a puffed rice snack that kind of reminded me of popcorn. The flavours and textures were really great. Then, there was the Aloo Papri Chaat which was refreshing because of its yoghurt and sweet chutney. A co-worker of Victor’s recommended the Hakka Chilli Paneer and wow, it is delicious. It comes with a little salad to help even out the green and red chillies! The last of the street food was the Dhokla, one of Shally’s favourite foods. Dhokla is basically a chickpea cake and was the most unusual thing on the table. It’s fluffy and dense at the same time. Dip it whatever sauce is around you and enjoy!
We also tried one southern Indian dish, Idli Sambar. It’s a vegetable and lentil stew served with steamed rice cakes. I had never had anything like it and watched as Shally dunked the rice cakes into the stew. She was in heaven!
About midway through the meal I also had some Masala Chai brought to me and it was super awesome. Even Shally, the chai queen, approved. And of course I couldn’t leave without some dessert. Shally and I had Kulfi, a frozen dairy dessert usually served on a stick. Shally had the pistachio and I had the malai (cream). It was so yummy and also fun to feel like a kid with my popsicle stick.
All in all, Roti Chai is spectacular. The Street Kitchen is delicious and Shally said it was her favourite Indian place in London! Huzzah! I can’t wait to go back, hopefully sharing it with even more friends.