Friday, July 4, 2008


One of the best things about Sydney is that it has had a very strong surge of immigrants coming in for the last couple decades or so. As a result, you can find all sort of great food--particularly of the Asian variety. I was so excited when I found an Indian restaurant near my workplace that served both South Indian food, and chaat (street food/snacks). I immediately thought that I would go there every day for lunch for the next two months. If you live in the US, you probably haven't tried either of the things I'm about to mention--most Indian restaurants in the US focus on other regions of India, and you can really only find these things if you're lucky or looking very hard. In Chicago, there are a bunch of great little restaurants on Devon Street--my favorites being Annapurna (for chaat) and Udupi Palace (for dosa, idli, and other South Indian food). The place I went to in Sydney is Jaipur Sweets. Although the chaat was very good, it seems that they don't use enough chilies in their food--perhaps catering to a presumed Australian palette? So the taste of the food was a little off (but still nice, especially if you don't know how it is supposed to taste!)

Above is papri chaat, which consists of crunchy fried bits of dough, potatoes, onion, coriander chutney, tamarind and date chutney, yogurt, and chaat masala (a spice mixture). I've made this from scratch a few times, and it took me the better part of a day! This can also be called papadi chaat, or dahi papadi chaat and probably a few other similar variations. It is delicious--a great combination of crunchy and soft, and flavors ranging from sweet to spicy to tangy and everything in between. Also pictured is a small cup of rasmalai, a yummy dairy-based desert made of a spongy round of paneer marinated in a sweetened milky broth with saffron and nuts. I think they forgot to sweeten the rasmalai at Jaipur Sweets, but otherwise it had the right texture. Strange omission from a place with the word sweets in its name.

Another favorite, pictured above, is masala dosa. Dosa (also written dosai) are thin, crunchy crepes made from rice batter which has been left to ferment overnight. It has a slightly sourdough flavor. The masala variety comes stuffed with an onion and potato mixture, which is supposed to be a bit spicy (though wasn't at all in this case). You eat dosa with your right hand by breaking off bite sized pieces and dipping them into one of the two associated condiments: sambar, which is a lentil and vegetable soup/gravy, and coconut chutney. Both can be a little spicy, particularly the chutney (though again, not at all at Jaipur Sweets!)

If you get a chance, go out and try these things some day. Though, if you aren't in India, I can't guarantee the authenticity.

No comments: