Thursday, June 05, 2008

Chennai ka CHATaaa

Don't Always Dare to be different..
Welcome to Chennai. Land of Idly,Chutney, Sambar, Vada, dosa, and Filter coffee, and yea how can I forget the long list of rice items which run into pages on each Menu card be it a road side hotel or the star restaurants.
Well I remember reading and forwarding a number of funny mails regarding some of the funny facets of the food habits of Chennaites, like
- Even dogs in Chennai feed on curd rice;
- Paani Puri or the Gol gappas are dipped in Sambar ;) and what not.
but then I was surprised to note that they are actually not just over dose of exaggeration as I excepted them to be, but then now I believe that there does exist a certain element of truth in this.
Daily at work I find my colleagues, having either curd rice or other colourful rice items or as a change dosas for lunch. The only thing that varies everyday is the colour of the chutneys and pickles that they carry alongside.

But the most memorable moment was when I and a colleague tried to be different and ended up paying the price for it. On the streets of T Nagar, we found of a number of eateries. I couldn't control my laughter when I noticed a stall named "kolkatta chats" selling items like "bhav pagii"(pav bhaji ..i suppose), "channa masala", "channa samosa","beel puri" and I couldn't scroll down....and the hotels who had got the spellings right always claimed that the junk that i prefer were over and hence not available
Looking at the list my colleague insisted on having Pav Bhaji, I promised her that I would try it out only under one condition provided we find a place which atleast spells the items right. Then we ended at a pretty posh looking sweet shop, with a decent sized snacks corner. It was here that I had my first Pav Bhaji at Chennai. My colleague was very happy to note that a plate of Pav Bhaji at Rs 25, almost half the price at Mumbai. So we ordered a Pav Bhaji each and had it full. Then we wished to try something more, we ordered a plate of Bhel Puri and Cutlet Channa. This is where we went a little overboard and expected them to good. It proved to be a costly mistake; the Cutlet Channa hardly had any piece of cutlet and the Channa was barely boiled. We felt like eating a half cooked dish and put it aside. Then we looked on to the other delicacy waiting for us, Bhel puri. Filled with a thick layer of Sev we expected the Bhel to be really tasty put it required just one spoon to get the real taste of it. Then we required was a stare and we silently walked off.

It didn't end there, after a bus journey to home here am I shuttling between my bedroom and bathroom; and i also recieved a call from the same colleague who accompanied in this endeavour, that she is down with fever.

So the lesson learnt: When at Chennai, be a Chennaite;eat Idly, Dosa and rice and drink filter Kaapi(coffee).


Pankaj said...

I hope tht u r not doing rounds of loo at the office...
and dont be experimental for rest ofur stay at chennai...south indian dishes r pretty good...hv them...leave "bhav pagii" for mumbai...

Harsha said...

well pankaj.. thank god that i'm fine at office, becoz here we have water problem as well ;)
so thngs cant get worse than this.. :P

Samathu Iyengaar Ponnu said...

Harsha, I am a food critic with an english newspaper in the city and my job is to eat around the city. Let me tell you, the food scene here in the city is brilliant and prob the best around the country ( no, I am nor rambling as an offended Chennai-ite). Whether it is Japanese, Italian, Thai, Mallu or anything, we have fine dinign resturants and some of them are pretty darn good. As for your chat experince, I reckon I must have been Adyar Anandhan Bhavan or some sad sweet shop:P comon yaar, you go to a pucca south_indian place and ask for mumbai chat... thats what happens.. try asking for idli dosa on one of your stands at Juhu and tell me how the sambar tastes:P

Anyway :) you prob dunno whr to find the right stuff .. and lemme tell you if u want good chat .. try Ajnabi at Egmore or Shree Mithai at Spencers or even the various gangothrees across the city .. All the best :)

Harsha said...

hey (not sure what ur name is)
thnx fr the much needed help..
i guess u can be a millionnare here by providing similar consultancy services (fee based. Me n some my friends here are desperate to know about more places in the city..