Roti Chai

Remember when I said, being away from home made me miss India and its cuisine a bit too much?

Ya well, despite having quite the heavy meal at Dishoom, my desi soul wasn’t quite satiated. I was craving more. The lingering taste of the cuisine made me want to have more of it and I just couldn’t find the excuse to go savour it.

So, when Esperanza’s birthday came round and she expressed her desire to go eat Indian food again, I all but fell out my chair with excitement. Instead of going to Dishoom, we decided on trying out a different Indian restaurant named Roti Chai. Roti Chai has two floors on which it serves food. Despite the fact that it serves the same cuisine, the first floor serves a more diverse range of street food and the like.The service is fast and it isn’t that heavy on the wallet. As my girls and I were going out for dinner and it was after all, our darling Espy’s birthday, we decided on treating her to the high end meal.

Upon entering, we were welcomed by a giant sign that not so subtly directed us towards the ground floor where we would be dining.

Bhojan Kaksh which translates into ‘Eating Area’

After being seated, we took a few minutes to settle down and take in the decor and setting of the restaurant. Lanterns hung low from the ceiling and steel racks were nailed to the wall on top which were placed suitcases to give the feel of a railway carriage. It was quite unlike the first floor which was decked with posters and mud dolls of Indian cultural performers. Having become warm and comfy in our seats, we were given the menu cards. We opted out of the set three course menu and decided on ordering a variety of stuff so that we could all taste and enjoy the dishes. Dipa and I, proud Indians that we are, helped Mary and Esperanza out as they went through the menu cards. After quite a lot of indecisiveness, we had finally decided on our starters. On our insistence, Mary and Esperanza decided to try out the Seasonal Pav Bhaji and Dhaba Tandoori Chicken. Being massive fans of prawns, Dipa and I decided on sharing a plate of Chilli Garlic Prawns.

From left to right : Seasonal Pav Bhaji which is spiced vegetable mash with buttered ‘pav’ bread, Chilli Garlic Prawns cooked with Goan chilli, roasted garlic, rock samphire served atop coconut rice and Dhaba Tandoori Chicken where the meat is rubbed with traditional tandoori masalas.

The minute the starters were laid in front of us, we dived in. I squealed in joy upon popping the first prawn into my mouth. It was so juicy and delicious. What made this dish even more yummy was the fact that it was served with coconut rice which is one of my favourite comfort foods. The rice is fried in yoghurt and coconut cream and makes for quite the hearty meal. With that first bite, I couldn’t help but miss my mum and home terribly. While I was lost in prawn land, Mary and Esperanza had started on the Seasonal Pav Bhaji. Despite the fact that it was a tad bit spicy, the buttery ‘pav’, which is a loaf of bread in the shape of a bun and the flavours of the ‘bhaji’ won them over. Although Esperanza’s eyes were close to watering, it didn’t stop her from spooning some more on her plate. We tried the Dhaba Tandoori Chicken at the end because it was a big chunk of chicken leg which had been pit roasted. For Indians like Dipa and me, the flavours were anything but spicy but Mary and Esperanza found the masala rubbed on the skin of the meat a little spicy. Nothing a big dash of lemon didn’t fix though !

We then requested for the menu cards once again, our appetites still quite ravenous. After much musings and explanations about what dish is what, we chose our main courses. While Mary decided on trying out the Parsi Chicken Dhansak, Dipa chose the Koliwada Fish Kari and Esperanza and I both zoomed in on the Butter Chicken. We ordered a side of Steamed Basmati Rice, Raita, one serving of Tandoori Roti and two servings of Garlic Naan. 

It wasn’t long before our noses caught the smell of our food wafting from the kitchen and before we knew it, the dishes were in front of us, waiting to be eaten.

The Koliwada Fish Kari is a traditional fisherman style dish with tilapia, coconut and South Indian spices.

The Parsi Chicken Dhansak is a Zoroastrian sweet and sour chicken dish with lentils, butternut and spices

The Butter Chicken is an old Delhi style chicken thigh tikka dish served with ‘makhani’ gravy and a touch of fenugreek.

The Garlic Naan went brilliantly with the Butter Chicken. The kick of the garlic along with the creamy gravy of the chicken made every morsel melt in my mouth. The chicken was cooked perfectly and there was enough for more than one person. Being a big fan of Butter Chicken, I don’t think there will ever be a time when I’ll have something bad to say about the dish. Esperanza enjoyed it too although being a little sensitive towards the flavours of India, she cleaned out the dish with her nose and eyes watering. The Raita helped soothe the taste buds since it had an added element of pomegranates in it which, surprisingly, went quite well with the cucumbers and yoghurt. On tasting Dipa’s Koliwada Fish Kadi, I was immediately reminded of a very common South Indian dish called Sambaar which is served alongside Idlis and Dosas. Not being a huge advocate of fish in general, the fish of this dish won me over. It was extremely soft and the curry in which it was cooked made it all the more tastier. Having never tasted Zoroastrian dishes before, Mary’s dish was a first for me as well and I have to say I enjoyed it quite a lot. It was a wonderful mix of sweet and sour where no one particular taste overpowered the other. Unlike the others, I preferred her dish with Tandoori Roti rather than Basmati Rice or Garlic Naan.

We had finished off our mains faster than we had expected. Boy, we must have been hungry !

Doesn’t it look divine ?

Since it was Esperanza’s birthday, we couldn’t leave without some sugar tingling on our tongues now could we ? On Dipa’s recommendation, we decided on ordering the Chocolate Tart with Cinnamon Cream. It lived up to its fame I have to say. I was a little sad knowing my wish to try the Chai Brûlée had been over ruled but one spoon of this sin and my mind wasn’t thinking straight one bit. The chocolate mousse of the tart was silky smooth and the tart was baked just right. I never thought I would enjoy cinnamon cream so much but it was just out of this world. Gah, I have no words for it !!

Chocolate Tart served with Cinnamon Cream.

To preserve our lovely moments in this restaurant, we had a group picture taken and after one too many attempts, we got the perfect one.

From right to left : Esperanza, Dipa, Mary and me !

Personally, I don’t know which one I preferred more, Dishoom or Roti Chai. Even if I were held at gun point, I would be stammering and fumbling for words, both are THAT good.

My advice ?

Try both of them out. Maybe you can help me decide or find yourselves in the same quandary as me.

Have fun Mavericks !!


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