Dahi bhalla chaat
If Bandra needed a new idea for a restaurant, one that exclusively sells chaat would be a good option. Imlee, the Chaat Gali at the junction of Turner Road and Perry Cross Road does just that. The eatery offers North Indian chaat from regions including Delhi, Agra, Meerut, and Jodhpur. We beelined to the joint all the way from the distant suburbs late one night after calling ahead for a table. "Tonight, 10.30 pm? No problem, table is reserved. We opened just two days ago," the staffer told us over the phone. Anxious about facing a new eatery's teething issues, we gave it a go (bite), and it turned out to be a smart pick.
Dilli wale chole kulche
The entrance is nestled behind a large looming tree, adding to the cosy vibe. The interiors are warm with brown and bronze tones, minute pops of vibrant colours and large framed illustrations of chaat vendors. The seating includes cushioned benches against the wall with chairs around small side tables. The front foyer holds a pani puri cart staying true to the experience of standing and eating golgappa even in this premium setting. The restaurant wasn't kidding when they said this would offer a diverse chaat culture with a touch of luxury. They've combined the two perfectly without any trace of the hipster faÃ§ade.
Mutter poori with Agra wali kache tomatar ki subzi
We start off with the famous dahi bhalla chaat (Rs 135) and Dilli wale chole kulche (Rs 150) which is served piping hot with pickle. They don't disappoint us with four soft bhalla (vadas) that come topped with the perfect balance of slightly sweetened curd, green and tamarind chutneys and pomegranates. The kulcha, different from the ones available in Maharashtra, is the authentic lighter and softer flatbread. The mutter poori with Agra wali kache tomatar ki subzi (Rs 165) is another winner. The pooris are light and crispy, while the raw tomato green sabji is lightly spiced and earthy.
Tender coconut kulfi
We also try the Mumbai special pav bhaji and are happy to report that it doesn't come topped with tonnes of butter. It is quite homely and well-spiced, with small soft chunks of veggies and no trace of artificial colour. The final savoury dish is Jodhpur pyaaz ki kachori with lassan chutney (Rs 135), a crispy, flat and rich kachori. We are tempted to steal the chutney. The Kolkata puchka (Rs 110) might need more filling, and the puris aren't as crispy as their palak puri option (Rs 90). Of the 11 pani flavours, we suggest combining the classic khatta meetha and dhaniya pudina panis. The guava, Ayurvedic herbal and other flavours are, at best, a fun first attempt.
The eatery has warm and well-lit interiors with pops of colour and a pani puri cart near the entrance. Pics/Shadab Khan
We end the meal with a tender coconut kulfi (Rs 120) that leaves the palate clean (this could be because it's made with Gir cow milk and now fattier buffalo milk), and classic thick and creamy lassi (Rs 135). This Bandra-based swish eatery offers competitive prices, making it quite affordable. With in-house masalas and chutneys, including spice mix, potatoes and other produce sourced from Chandni Chowk, the flavours are as authentic as it gets. We are pleasantly surprised to learn that part of the proceeds from the eatery go towards founder, restaurateur and philanthropist Neeti Goel's tiger widow project that works towards making women, who have lost their husbands to tiger attacks in the Sunderbans, financially independent.
Imlee, the Chaat Galli
At: Carlton Court Building, Turner Road, Bandra West.
Time: 12 noon to 1 pm (all days)
'''' Exceptional, ''' Excellent, '' very Good, ' Good, Average. Imlee, the Chaat Galli didn't know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals