On a recent chilly night, Urbanspoon sponsored a blogger party at Chai Pani in Decatur. With their original location in Asheville, NC, chef/owners Meherwan Irani and his wife Molly decided to open a second location here, introducing Atlantans to their “mindblasting” Indian street food, with flavors as vibrant as the brightly painted decor.
The Iranis had thoughtfully prepared a sampling menu for us, starting with a cocktail called Kashmiri Sour, made with whiskey, fresh lime, chili powder, simple syrup, and egg white. Frothy and a bit spicy, it was the perfect match for our first taste, sev potato dahi puri, a big name for a little crispy puffed pocket stuffed with potatoes, onions, cilantro, and crunchy chickpea noodles, drizzled with housemade sauces and chutneys. In theory, I should love this dish and similar Indian chaat, however, there is something disconcerting about the combination of savory, sweet, and salty when it is served cold.
The next snack was kale pakoras, fritters made with kale in a curried chickpea batter. A blogger seated nearby commented that she couldn’t taste the kale. True, but I can imagine popping these little fried curry flavored snacks like popcorn.
Our main course began with a gin cocktail, and although I like gin, I opted to have another Kashmiri Sour. Chai Pani’s signature dish, the butter chicken pav was served on a griddled bun with okra fries. I might prefer the chicken sans bun, and I was really looking forward to the okra fries, but found them so thinly sliced that many of the slivers were charred.
Many diners at Chai Pani were enjoying street food dishes, served tapas style, but the restaurant also offers traditional thalis, plates comprised of a variety of individual dishes including basmati rice, daal, raita, and roti, with or without meat.
After our meal we were served chai, the famous spiced tea of India, fragrant with ginger and cardamom. For dessert we had sooji halwa , described as a buttery semolina flour pudding with saffron, raisins, and pistachios. Its grainy texture was strangely pleasing, and I would have loved it had my little scoop contained any raisins or pistachios.
Service was great and I especially liked the festive decor. I’ll certainly be back to try a traditional thali…maybe tandoori chicken or spicy shrimp vindaloo?
It was nice to meet fellow bloggers at this event, like E & A from Spatialdrift and MH who writes Atlanta Restaurant Blog, as well as old friends like GG who writes Marie, Let’s Eat! And, you can check out all of our reviews at Urbanspoon!
406 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue 404-378-4030