Potli Chaat Festival is to celebrate and honour the rich and varied flavours of the quintessential market place from across India and to bring these hidden treasures to Indian food lovers in London.
The opening night of the Chaat Festival – June 1st – saw the restaurant brim with enthusiastic food lovers and Potli patrons treating themselves to the savoury snacks.
Chaat – meaning delicacy in India – is thought to have originated in Uttar Pradesh, Northern India but is immensely popular all over India and beyond. Chaats are savoury snacks packed with flavours and aroma – mint, lemon, tamarind, local spices, coriander, salt, sugar, chili, basil, nuts, dates, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, chick peas and more. They are typically served road side on food carts and stalls. They are run by families, generation after generation following the same recipe and give a true taste of the flavours popular in that region.
Potli’s special chaat menu in June comprises 4-5 savoury dishes from Indian market places. Food lovers can order individual snacks or have the platter (featuring all the dishes). To make the chaat experience even more magical, Potli has introduced two custom-made drinks to go with the chaat dishes.
One is a cocktail – “Tamarind and Basil Martini”. It is a concoction of tamarind puree, Bombay Sapphire & sweet vermouth served with a sprig of basil. The second drink is a mocktail called Tamarind Tamasha. It is a sweet-tangy tamarind drink served on crushed ice with a hint of basil, chilies and passion fruit.
The whiff of tamarind and other flavours as the drink arrives is soothing and refreshing. The drink is subtle in taste but is very flavoursome and accentuates the heat and spices in the chaat dishes.
Potli Chaat Festival menu will change every week to feature 4-5 new chaat dishes from India. Week 1 of the festival (June 1st till 7th) features the following dishes:
Ragda Pattice: a popular Mumbai chaat dish of spiced potato pattice served on a bed of white peas broth and flavoured with sweet and tangy chutney, chopped onions and coriander. (As die-hard Mumbai street food fans, this dish – made to perfection by Potli chefs - is India News Bulletin’s absolute favourite from the lot!)
Chana and Pakora: Crisp Lentil pakoras crushed and sprinkled on black peas and puffed rice, peanuts, cucumber shavings, and chutneys. Chana and Pakora dish is one of the chef (Ahsan’s) mum’s secret recipe! (This dish definitely left us wanting more! You can tell it came straight from Ahsan’s heart!).
Jhal Muri: Puffed rice mixture with sev, peanuts, chillies and coriander with a dash of lemon. (Goes down a real treat with a pint of beer and will be a hit with those that perk up with the spice and heat from fresh green chilies).
Dahi Bhalla: Lentil dumplings dipped in sweet-sour yogurt and dressed with tamarind-jaggery chutney. (Some may like the vada a bit softer/soggier on the inside with yogurt seeped in but the flavours and taste were spot on!)
Potli’s Chaat Festival honours the tradition and legacy of chaat – as some of the recipes are decades-old family recipes handed down to the chefs from their mums and grans.
But it is not just the flavours and authentic taste that makes Potli Chaat Festival extra-ordinary. It is also the team’s passion and deep knowledge of the Indian market place food and flavours and their sincere attempt to recreate the chaat magic.
The chaat is served on a wooden basket-plate and served with typical wooden spoons – exactly how chaats are served at Indian market places - in disposable plates and cutlery.
The idea behind Potli’s Chaat Festival this June is to pleasantly surprise its customers and bring them new flavours and tastes. As much of Potli’s clientele is food lovers from nearby vicinity who keep coming to the restaurant regularly, the restaurant wants to give them something new and special to look forward to.
The Michelin approved restaurant has won hearts for the last five years for keeping up the authenticity of Indian food and delivering an experience of Indian dining and boasts of high-profile celebrity customers mainly from Chiswick, Ravenscourt Park and Hammersmith.
“But the team isn’t sitting idle,” says Uttam Tripathy, owner of Potli.
The chefs are constantly innovating and looking for newer ways to bring to plate hidden Indian flavours. Every time any Potli team member goes back to their hometowns in India, they taste street food from remote places and try to recreate that magic in their Hammersmith Kitchen, Tripathy tells India News Bulletin.
And the Chaat Festival is a sign of that. The team has ambitious plans to have many more festivals – such as Biryani Festival later this year.
The team takes the effort to listen to the feedback from customers on the new chaat dishes and the top-rated dishes may eventually find a place in the regular menu.
The chaat platter coupled with the drink was filling! So India News Bulletin skipped the mains and went straight for the desserts.
The Mango Shrikhand – featuring cardamom-flavoured shrikhand with swirl of mango puree and mint was rich, aromatic and tasty. But India News Bulletin still remembers the quirky Paan Ice Cream – a betel-leaf flavoured ice cream topped with gulkhand (a sweet preserve of rose petals and sugar)! It was ace.
The chaat menu in Potli Chaat Festival changes every week, bringing 4-5 new dishes from different parts of India.
So, tuck in and enjoy the kaleidoscope of flavours coming together in dainty chaat dishes. Tuck In. And yes, don’t miss the special drinks – they are as flavoursome as the chaat dishes themselves and further accentuate the taste!