I Love It When You Call Me Big Papri, The Beauty of the “Crazy Chaat” at Desi Chaat House
I really like chaat. I like the uniqueness of it, I like trying different versions, I really like the tangy yogurt sauce and the mix of crispy surprises. So when I found myself in UCity, where I was a 15 minute walk away from Desi Chaat House, I dragged myself over there despite the fact that I was exhausted and my feet really hurt. I was relieved to finally reach the orange shack. Then I had some big decisions to make. Which of the 20 or so chaats would I choose?
I spotted the dahi balla chaat ($5) at the glassed table at the front counter and the “black gram dumplings” looked to tempting to pass up. I was told they were fritter like, but they really weren’t. The lobes didn’t have much texture, and the loose texture disintegrated into the soupy sauce. However, the taste of the yogurt and the accompanying chickpea, potato, onions, cilantro, and unexpected slivers of mango made up for it. And for $5, even if the dumplings aren’t for me, I still felt ok about it.
I debated with the man behind the counter about what other chaat to try, explaining that I was no chaat rookie. He recommended the crazy chaat, a conglomeration of several different chaat varieties. What resulted was the most gorgeous looking and satisfying chaat I have come across. I take back what I said while eating at the Desi Chaat House in Center City, chaat can be beautiful! Desi takes their flavor combinations seriously, the chaats that were mixed together were chosen because they compliment each other. I tried to get some lamb thrown on top, but I was told the flavors would not match up. You have to respect that insistence on not altering their perfected product.
I was forking pieces of radish, potato, chick pea, nuts, big pieces of papri, and less familiar chaats that resembled crunchy dots, potato sticks, and rice krispies. It was fun to eat and there was just the right amount of yogurt sauce to mix over each section of my platter.
Just be wary of taking the chaats to go; the crispiness is half of the fun. If you must eat it later, have them separate the sauce from the rest.
I apreciated the option of having a chicken samosa ($2), you rarely see non- vegetarians samosas, but found it bland compared to everything else I ate.
You can keep with the milk based, carb studded theme with a little pistachio and almond topped rice pudding for dessert.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Best chaat in Philly?
- The menu also has biryani, wraps, and both vegetarian and meat options
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- This food does not travel well
Desi Chaat House, 501 S 42nd St (@ Baltimore Ave), 215 618-3423