Chola Is Making Some Amazing Chaat
For those who love the Indian street snacks known as chaat, the heart of Midtown is quite the wonderland. But that’s little consolation for those who work in the NE corner of Midtown, where a little chaat might require a 15-20 minute walk (at least!) Well, problem solved! Lunch’er Chandrika (who translated the Taj Delhi Chaat menu for us last year) has tipped us off to the amazing chaat at Chola on 57th 58th btw. 2+3rd. It’s slightly out of bounds, but completely worth it for those chaat starved lunchers in that area of our fine territory.
The restaurant is a hip, slightly upscale Indian option with an all you can eat lunch buffet that is a few bucks too expensive for this guy ($13.95, $14.95 on Fridays). But just to the left, when you first walk in the door, is a chaat counter where they will gladly whip up some crunchy Indian goodness for you to take away.
I went with the bhel puri (puffed rice, chickpeas, potatoes, two chutnies for $6), which is kind of the industry standard of chaat- but they also offer pani pori ($7), batata sev pori ($7), and ragara ($8). If you order it to go, they put the chutnies and yogurt on the side, so that it doesn’t get soggy on the walk to wherever you are going. Chaat is a street food, and knowing I was just going to pop it open as soon as I stepped onto the sidewalk I asked them to mix mine up for me. They were pretty hesitant, but I convinced them that I was going to eat it right away (which might have made them concerned I was going to just stand at the front of the restaurant.)
Bhel puri is a pretty simple dish, but this version was pretty awesome. Sweet and tangy from the tamarind, spicy from the green sauce, crunchy from the rice crispie thingies… so good! It’s meant to be eaten as a snack or appetizer, but if you’re not looking to completely stuff yourself i.e. ‘fat like me’) it’s a perfectly reasonable size to be considered a lunch.
They also have $9.95 lunch boxes to go which I’m sure are good as well. I didn’t notice until after that the ragara chaat (potatoes, chickpeas, yogurt, chaat masala, cumin, two chutnies) had a “must try” label next to it. Might have to check that out next time… (though for $8 it better be amazing!)
Chola, 232 E. 58th Street (btw. 2+3rd), 212-688-4619