A Green St chaat intro [London]
As noted in my Paktoonkhwa Restaurant post, Green St has changed. This is a round up of some of the better chaat places I've snacked at over the last few days.
The three places I've enjoyed the most are two stalls in Venus Mall (16 Carlton Terrace, Green St, London, E7) and Khana Khazana (249 Green St.)
R.D. Dabeli Pure Vegetarian is the first of the Venus Mall stalls. It's further towards the back of the mall and on the left than the place written about below. They didn't have vada pav when I went in and they only recently stopped doing pav bhaji, but (as the name would imply) they make dabeli. I didn't know what dabeli was until I wiki'ed it afterward and it's apparently a snack sandwich native to Kutch. Interestingly enough the owner of this still is a woman from Kutch. Good sign? Probably. The sandwich itself is similar to a pav bhaji in the buttery flavor of its bread and the pastiness of its filling, but the taste is quite different. The paste was thicker and studded with pomegranate. The finished product had a nice contrast of extremely soft role and filling with crunchy pomegranate seeds and chunks of red onion. Decent taste and price. Her bhel was only OK.
Pound Shop Pure Vegetarian is closer to the mall entrance and on the right. It's name and sign make it look like many of the (now probably 10+) mediocre chaat places along Green St, but some of their stuff has impressed me. His pani puri are some of the best I've had in London. Not quite on par with the old cart in East Ham, but close. Papri that aren't stale, good water and better filling at a pound for 5. His samosa chaat is decent.
Khana Khazana is further down Green St and it is literally impossible to miss. What used to be a sport's bar has now become a mini Indian food extravaganza. The menu inside looks quite standard and Punjabi, but a chaat bazaar of sorts lines the outside of the restaurant. The aloo tikki are fried fresh to order. Pakora are also fried to order. Practically everything but jalebi is fried to order (and if you're lucky those are fried to order as well as they're done in batches.) They also do fried fish by the kilo, but I haven't tried it yet. Aloo tikki chat (1 pound) is excellent with a still burning hot potato fritter covered in your usual selection of chaat related toppings. Their pani puri are better than average for the road with a greener water than at the above place. Overall, I prefer their water here, but the filling was bland by comparison. Finally, this is one of the only places I've ever seen pav bhaji on a menu in London. I get them from two places in Queens and TBH I prefer the version at both, but this was pretty good. The masala filling was a bit lacking in spice and it tasted more strongly of tomato than any other version I've had. The rolls were nice, grilled and buttered though. 2 for 3 quid and though it wasn't the best I've had I would get it again.
Really good Gujarati chaat shop to add to this list!
It's simply called Veggie's Snackbar and it operates out of a mini mall which is dominated by clothing stores at 307 Green St. It's closer to the tube than Venus Mall.
The menu is extremely Gujarati compared even to the Kutchi place that does dabeli. I just sampled their pani puri, khichyu and dabeli all of which were very good. Most of the menu is a pound while the sandwiches (including vada pav, pav bhaji and dabeli) are 1.25. Gujarati snacks include Gujarati samosa, kachori, khandvi, dhokla, khamon, etc. They seem to offer a few things in store that aren't even on their written menu while other items have not yet been introduced (for example, ragda patties and dahi puri are coming "later this week."
In terms of what I actually had...
The pani puri had the best green water I've had on the street with extremely fresh melt in your mouth papri. The papri were really fresh compared to anywhere else I had. The filling was nothing special, but it was different as it seemed to include both beans and corn. The Urdu speaking 1 pound place in Venus Mall does a better filling, but these are significantly better pani puri overall.
The dabeli was different from the Venus Mall rendition with a bit less spice, no pomegranate seeds in the paste that makes up most of the sandwich and a fresher buttered roll. Cheaper at 1.50 and arguably better, though quite different from the other place. It's almost as if they're each serving their idea of dabeli.
The khichyu was really surprisingly good for something made earlier and sold out of individual closed containers. One pound gets you a small fist of what can essentially be summed up as savory cooked dough. Really good flavor overall though not as good as the best versions I've had. A bit salty. Come on though. It's a pound. That's an incredible deal for khichyu.
I'm going to run over there again later to try the pav bhaji, Mumbai grilled sandwich and something else.
I just wanted to update this as I've gone to the Dabeli place a few more times. The dabeli are good, but they're not something that I consistently go there to order (I tend to go into Venus Mall to get pani puri at the other place and then try whatever looks good at the other one.) The woman who runs the stall started doing vada pav again and may do pav bhaji again in the future. Her vada pav (1.50) was the best version I've ever had. The patty was deep fried (Gujarati style?) and put on a bun before going into a sandwich press for a minute or so. Despite the name, the vada pav is definitely the star here with the dabeli only being good. Her bhel was also a lot better this time (one of the better versions I've had) as I think her puffed rice was a bit stale last time.
HI Justin - one of my faves there is Pride Halal inside Queen's Market. A group of indian women run it and you used to be able to see them making samosas in the back. Goes without saying, samosas are delish, am also partial to their dals and spinach & meat curries. No set menus and very basic but it's a place i keep going back to. Only open during market time though