Greater Toronto's best ethnic hole-in-the-wall restaurants and strip mall eateries.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Spicy snacks from the beach in Bombay

While hundreds of Indian restaurants in Toronto serve up the standard butter-chicken-and-dahl buffet, one restaurant in Little India has a different take on food from the subcontinent. Bombay Chowpatty (1386 Gerrard Street East) serves up vegetarian street food from India. 

"Indian restaurants tend to have buffets, but I wanted to do something different," says co-owner Gurpreet Mann (below), who hails from the Punjab and opened up the restaurant two years ago. 

"In Bombay, and all over India, people make snacks and sell them on the road. We make these snacks and serve them fresh." 

The restaurant gets its name from Chowpatty (Chaupati) beach in Mumbai (formerly Bombay). The beach is famous for its food stalls. In addition to serving fast food treats, the restaurant doubles as a video store, selling the latest Bollywood DVDs. 

The ragda patties ($5.99) are pan fried potato patties swimming in a chick pea, onion and tomato sauce.  The masala fries (below; $3.99) are tasty dish of spicy french fries topped with yogurt, green chutney, tamarind chutney, and cilantro. Many of the other dishes on the menu combine similar elements to create punchy treats that pack sweet, salty and creamy flavours into each bite.

Pav bhaaji ($5.99) is a puree of mashed veggies sauteed with onion and garlic and topped with lime. The bhel puri (below, $4.99) is a dish of rice crisps with onion, potato, green mango, cilantro, tamarind and chutney. It tastes a bit like Sugar Crisp breakfast cereal and includes bits of sev, a type of cracker.

The menu also included paneer burgers and this lovely paneer kathi roll (below, $5.99), which must be an Eastern equivalent of the breakfast burrito. It was made of mashed paneer (unaged Indian cheese) and rolled into a flakey paratha bread.

I finished the meal with a surprisingly good rose lassi, a sweet, milky drink made with rosewater. It was truly a pleasure to discover so many new dishes and to sample a different side of the Indian food in the city.

Bombay Chowpatty is located at 1386 Gerrard Street East. Its hours are 1:30pm to 11pm on weekdays, 12 noon to 12 midnight on weekends. 

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