Chai Naasto: One iftar you need to try
If you're looking for an upbeat cheerful social media platform - Instagram is your best bet.
I often find myself scrolling through pages and pages of content, following numerous food bloggers and self-proclaimed foodies, while pinning post after post down on my to-visit list, which continues to expand as rapidly as the UK food scene.
Good food appreciates good company, and it's not easy to find good places away from the bustle of central. So, when I came across Chai Naasto, a small Indian street food restaurant nestled in Hammersmith, it quickly joined my list of potentials.
You can imagine my excitement then when I discovered that Chai Naasto has rolled out a special iftar menu for this Ramadan, so of course we had to try it.
A cosy and intimate place, Chai Naasto was bustling when we arrived as the manager tells me they can do up to 120 covers a day.
Their signature branding, cheerful bursts of yellow, stands out in a rustic atmosphere, as heavenly smells embrace you as soon as you enter.
The iftar menu offers four platters. The first is a Niwala Chat Platter, akin to a sharing starter platter of Punjabi and Lamb Samosas, Aloo Tikki Chaat, Dahi Puri and Bhel Puri.
Me and my date loved the platter. The lamb samosa was particularly delectable; moist mince in a crunchy pastry drizzled with a mint chutney and yoghurt dressing. Bhel puri, puffed rice mixed with chutney towered at the end of the platter, capturing all the flavours of a Bombay mix. The Dahi Puri, described as a "yoghurt bomb" came encased in a beautiful crispy shell.
At £14.95, the platter is a beautiful medley of chutneys with heat gradually building up for a pleasant experience. The tanginess of the tamarind, mixed with the heat of the spices, is tempered down with sweet yoghurt.
The second platter on the menu was Kebab-e-Daulat, a selection of choice grilled meats.
A large platter, it includes Hara Bhara (a spinach and potato patty), a selection of seekh and galouti kebab (skewered and flattened kebab), Rajkot jeera murgh (spiced chicken), Chicken Tikka, Paneer Tikka (a type of cheese) and Masala Chaap Ribs.
Despite the large pieces, the chicken was surprisingly juicy and tender, and the seekh kebab had just the right kick to it.
|The iftar menu offers four platters: the Niwala Chat Platter, the Kebab-e-Daulat, the Dawaat Ki Thali and the Tandoori Guzaarish|
For those like me, who don't believe an Indian experience is complete without a good curry, the third platter, Dawaat Ki Thali, offers four different curries in a sharing platter style.
It's hard to go wrong with the options: a creamy Butter Chicken sauce, a deep Laal Maas Lamb, Daal Makhani (a sweet Black lentil curry that I'm still not sure I know the right words in any language to describe) and vegetarian Mutter Paneer.
The platter also comes with Pilau Rice, Garlic Naan, Masala Chaas (a light watery yoghurt drink which Google tells me is buttermilk, but a wonderful way to break up the heat) and a pickle chutney.
At £22.95, the platter is value for money. The spices in the curry sauces are cooked in with a depth of flavour and is a far cry from your traditional curry house with a noticeable lack of grease and oil.
"The bases for our curry sauces are cooked for six hours," Puneet Wadhwani, a partner at Chai Naasto, tells me.
"We make sure we only send out the highest quality."
The final platter - Tandoori Guzaarish - is a definite customers favourite. Two pieces of king prawns and two pieces of soft lamb cutlets are marinated in a tandoor and served alongside a beautiful sauce.
But what a sauce! Now, I have no idea what was in it, it felt like a more luxurious version of the butter chicken, and had I known it was coming I probably would not have eyed the curry platter at all, instead requesting more of it.
The king prawns, while cooked beautifully, tasted close to chicken as they were large pieces. The marinate on the lamb cutlets was one of my favourite. It's the priciest platter on the menu at £23.95 for essentially four pieces and is unlikely to fill you up on its own - but it sure tasted good!Chai Naasto is definitely a place I'd go back to again and I'm already planning what chaats I want to try. I've also got my eye on a white chocolate samosa and some mocktails as I couldn't find the space last time.
Be sure to book their limited iftar menu this Ramadan, and drop by for a visit after, as a new exciting menu is in the works.
Halal: Yes, Hammersmith branch is
Alcohol served: Yes
To book a table at Chai Naasto, click here
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