Many a weekend, we find ourselves aimlessly driving around Dubai rediscovering favorite nooks and crannies, and often ending up eating an elaborate meal at a brand new joint.
My husband and I have a special ritual for ending these star-studded, feast-filled nights. Being avid tea drinkers, we look up late-night tea stalls. These are the tiny little shops lining major highways, or tucked inside residential pockets. The tea is ever flowing, often spiced up with cardamom, and costs a mere 1 dirham per cup. It’s the perfect, soul-warming sip for ending a gastronomic outing.
During the Christmas weekend, we found ourselves lost in the urban jungle of Karama and the kitsch twinkling of multi-coloured tealights at a roadside vendor caught our attention.
‘Chowk Ki Chaat‘ is a vegetarian restaurant that has apparently been here for over 4 years. We were thrilled with this discovery, primarily because a) I love, love chaat! I can live on the tangy-sweet variations of this ever popular Indian street-food, b) the restaurant looks so different from anything you would expect to see here in Dubai!
Chowk Ki Chaat has been designed to look like a traditional Indian ‘dhaba’ (foodie pit-stops dotted around the highways of India). A pile of earthen pots are displayed in one corner, and the tables are laid out with festively colourful chain-stitched embroidery akin to the artisans of the North. Everything is so quintessentially North Indian!
It was a lovely breezy evening, and we chose to sit outdoors.
Perfect weather for a hot cup of tea and samosas! At Chowk Ki Chaat, they have a special deal. For a mere AED 5 you get a choice of Masala or Adrak (ginger) tea along with a plate of two freshly fried samosas.
We went for the Adrak tea, and it really is a huge upgrade from our usual 1 dirham Carnation milk-filled teas. You can really taste the warmth of the ginger, and the tea has been brewed with fresh milk.
As for the samosas, they were simply delicious! The pastry was a crunchy, crumbly golden brown and the stuffing of delicately spiced potatoes with a few peas added in suited my palette perfectly. I am not a huge fan of samosas to be honest, I find many places overdo the spice quotient in the filling, and I’ve often ended up having a pastry stuffed with a spicy potato mash. Not the case here at all; it tastes home-made and so very fresh!
The tea was so good, that we decided to reorder two cups of tea, and decided to try the Masala Tea this time round. It is generously laced with cardamom flavor, and like the last cup, soulfully warm and milky. If I had to choose between the two, I’d go with the Adrak tea.
Although our appetites were greatly satiated with the rather filling samosas, we decided to share a plate of Pani Puri to end our meal.
Pani Puri is a very popular ‘chaat’. Tangy-sweet tamarind water, and a spicy coriander-mint chutney is poured into puffed up, hollow wheat balls and swallowed in one ultra spicy-tangy-sweet gulp #omnomnom
At Chowk Ki Chaat, Pani Puri is served rather stylishly as shots!
I was rather surprised with the negative ratings this restaurant has received on Zomato. Perhaps we got superior service because of it, and the staff also noticed I was getting pretty click-happy with my phone!
Chowk Ki Chaat has raised the bar for our weekend tea ritual. We are now happy to dish out AED 5 each for this treat (as opposed to our 1 dirham cuppa!).
If you happen to be in the Karama vicinity, do look them up. I’m planning to try out their mains next time round.