Chai Pani Indian Street Food
We were out running around most of the day, so we decided to stop in at Chai Pani, a little Indian street food restaurant, for a quick dinner. We first went there a couple of months ago for ATL Vegan Drinks and really like the food. Most of the dishes are what I think of as “big plate” appetizers. They also have a vegetarian and non-vegetarian thali. This time the veg thali wasn’t vegan, but I think it sometimes is. It changes depending on what the special is. Still, we were really there for the kale. They have the most ridiculous kale there and we love it. I’m a big fan of pakoras, battered and fried veggies, sometimes chopped and mixed into the batter, and sometimes sliced and then battered. Either way, you can’t go wrong with anything that’s been battered and fried. The kale pakoras are exactly what you think they are. Big pieces of kale, coated in chickpea batter and deep fried. Yes. It is, in fact, pure genius. OK- I know, the fried sort of (completely) negates the healthfulness of the kale, but still. Deep. Fried. Kale.
We also shared a samosa, but the kale really steals the show here. It’s good, but you know, it’s a samosa. No biggie. It is pretty, though. The other item we got was a mixed vegetable uttepam. If you’ve never had uttepam, it’s a crepe made from rice flour and lentils topped with veggies. They have two on the regular menu, one vegan and one not (it has cheese). Ours had carrots, peas, onions, cilantro, ginger, chilies and coconut. It also comes with a yummy coconut sauce and a tangy stew for dipping. It’s super good and we just go all into street food mode and tear chunks of it off with our hands and eat with out fingers. One great thing about the menu at Chai Pani is that they clearly mark vegan and gluten-free items. The kale actually comes with yogurt, so you just have to tell them to hold it, and bam! It’s vegan. I think this is a chain of restaurants – I know there is at least one other in Asheville. We like it, but just be prepared for the idea that you’re mostly getting appetizers for dinner.