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Chaayos – Experiments with Chai

This is the post excerpt.

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18th August, 2016. 13.30

There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation

  – Lin Yutang

As we wake up, the very first thing we require is TEA. No matter what season is, tea stands to be the most preferred beverage among Indians and that too not from a restaurant or a café but from a small roadside tea stall. The rawness, the aroma and those cute small tea glasses instantly takes you in a deep state of contemplation.

Every hand knows how to make a good tea but still the taste differs, why?  Blame it on the variety, the method, the ingredients, and the place that directly affects the taste of it and one wins the game if it touches all the above elements of serving a good tea.

Recently I came across the funky tea café that experiments with chai named, Chaayos. On invitation from Divya Divakaran – Social Media Manager of the café I visited there Powai, Mumbai outlet to taste their new offering in tea and snacks.

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Let’s look at the ratings:

Food (3.5/5):

I was first served with Loaded Veg Cheese Max that was made up with a thick base of white bread laden with dry gravy made up of jackfruit and chunks of paneer and topped with a spread of cheese. The bread was crunchy and the mixture was fresh though but the flavours were not coming out. Surely, you will not get the sweetness of jackfruit but on the other hand It was bit difficult to judge the taste as it was slightly on the bland side, If the mixture would have been made medium spicy then the taste would create a good difference.

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Loaded Veg Cheese Max

Next, we had Pakora Basket served with green pudina chatni. It was a mix of pakoras that includes Kandha(onion), Methi (fenugreek) Paneer, Corn and Mirch pakoras sprinkled with garlic red chili dry chutney that is usually accompanied with it. Taste wise methi pakora was the clear winner and other varieties lost the rank because of being cold, not even warm but cold. Moreover, mirch pakora was half cooked from inside which actually did not motivate to eat more. Corn, Onion and Paneer were okish but the taste should have been better if served hot. In addition, pudina chatni was fresh and flavorful. They will surely serve you with the pakoras but do ask for it if they miss out.

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Pakora Basket

Next on the go was bun maska, round shaped soft burger bread that was slightly toasted with good amount of butter spread, you can see in the picture. The quality of bread was fresh and it tasted really well along with the chai.

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Bun Maska

And now it’s time to do some ‘Chai Pe Charcha’ with a cup of tea in my hand. I was served with two varieties of tea one was Kulhad chai and the other was Desi chai.  Kulhad chai was milkier than usual chai and with a inclusion of saffron in it, it tasted amazing, the aroma of saffron itself created the magic. The name Kulhad actually comes from the clay pot in which the tea is served. On the other hand Desi chai was made with inclusion of elaichi (cardamom) tulsi ( holy basil) adrak (ginger); all these excellent  flavours with the right mix of sugar and with the perfect usage of milk made it a mind blowing tea. Do try it.  We were also given ‘Thandi Chai’ that had a ‘Saunf’ (fennel seeds) flavour that was more like a milkshake but released the right flavour of saunf.

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Kulhad & Desi Chai

Service (3.0/5):

Service element is good but can be improved and as per the location, one should be focused on delivering the service in a right way. In one of the instance, when I entered the store I noticed there was no customer at the counter and the guys inside were doing some kind of paper work thing. I stood at the counter for 5 clock minutes without even being noticed by the captains. When I visited the Lower Parel center I was impressed with the kind of good evening shoutout I received as I entered. I was expecting the same here but that did not happen. In the second Instance, there was no serving or offering of water, I waited for 15 minutes and then I asked for it. We were two people but only I was given the water because only I asked for it. So I found a slight discrepancy in service element. I was attended by the store manager Ajay and the captain named Nilesh, they wore a nice smile on their face and guided us well with our queries.

Pricing (3.0/5)

Pricing is premium, as per the location. Loaded Veg Cheese Max is priced for Rs.169/- same is for Pakora basket. Bun Maska for Rs.59/- , Kulhad chai for Rs. 85/- and Desi chai for Rs. 65/- . They do have a tax structure but I feel for Bun maska and Desi chai the pricing is justified.

Ambiance (4.0/5)

As you enter, you will get the feeling of vintage café with old style tables and bench sittings that are used to create the atmosphere of a tea stall. Wooden interiors, dark shades on wall and kulhad shaped lamp hangings are used to create the relative ambiance. At the very straight wall there is bicycle hanging with two kettles in it handles and a wall with India’s map with graffiti. It has an open kitchen so you can see your order being made.  The area is clean and hygienic. I also loved the kind of soft music being played at the background, usually we get to hear a loud noise but this one was perfect. They do have a washroom facility that is neat and clean.

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Overall, it is a good place and as you have all the coffee brands around to meet up and network over a coffee this one is to tea. Moreover, I must say they can scale up easily by focusing on their core product and service

All the very best!
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Mirchi And Mime

It was only a sunny smile,

And little it cost in the giving,

But like morning light it scattered the night

And made the day worth living.

                                                                              -F. Scott Fitzgerald

It was my sweetheart’s birthday and this place was on her mind since long, so kept her tricking all the way long and hit the brakes of my car right outside Mirchi n Mime.  Looking at the name, she turned right and her smile really made the day worth living.

The idea was also to cover the restaurant as I heard about it a lot but was waiting for the special occasion.

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As we entered, I felt a very different and a positive aura for the place. I was escorted to my table by one of the captain. After getting comfortable, I soon got into conversation with Mr. Parag, senior captain, to collect some insights about the place and the idea behind the concept of hiring the speech & hearing impaired individuals as their primary staff. Soon the reply that came from him was they wanted to be slightly different and were eager to show the world the strength and ability of differently able people. Soon the word Wow!! Came from my mind.  Imagine every single person on this earth just puts a fraction of effort towards kindness; the world would become the best place to live.

Listening to Parag I got to know that these champions are hired from Dr. Reddy’s foundation and after hiring they are given 9 weeks of intensive training on hospitality. Currently,  they have 26 staff working in shifts and the company provides them Pick and Drop facility from their home.

My experience was further delighted when I met Mangesh with whom I enjoyed communicating in sign language, especially when I had to tell him thank you by touching fingers on my chin and see the broad smile on his face.

Location:  Transocean House, Lake Boulevard, Hiranandani Business Park, Powai, Mumbai.

Cuisine: Classic Indian cuisine

Food:  (4.0/5.0)

We started with waterchestnut & corn aloo tikki. Round shaped patty consisting crushed corn and waterchestnut  with with low amount of spices added. It was lightly fried because of which it got a mix of golden and light brown colour. It settled on the base of thick crunchy papri and was served with sautéed green peas. The dish was made well but could have been be enhanced if the patty would be bit more fried and made crispy.

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Waterchestnut & Corn Aloo Tikki

Next in the starter category was Jeera Aloo Chips. This was a actually misunderstood dish ,  though the dish was well prepared but I wasn’t prepared to have it as it contained boiled potatoes cut in a round shaped and was seasoned with Jeera (cumin seeds) coriander leaves and chilli flakes.  The quality and presentation was excellent but it was slightly bland, as when the upper coating melts in the mount the remaining potato was faded. Moreover, it actually saturated our taste buds because one cannot have so much of aloo in one go.

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Jeera Aloo Chips 

Next dish to try was Kothambir wadi. Its typically a maharashtrian dish with Its dark green colour coming from coriander and shade of yellow that comes due addition of turmeric powder. You definitely cannot  resist eating this dish, I bet on that as it was square-box shaped wadi topped with crushed groundnut. This one was deep-fried from outside. It was soft and steamed with medium spicy in nature.

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Kothambir Wadi

Along with the starters, we also ordered two ice-cool beverages. Berry Pomegranate Granita and Mirchi & Orange. The former consists berry and pomegranate juice and as the name goes it was loaded with crushed ice, it taste good but I had to wait a bit so that the ice could melt and I can get the mixed flavours exactly. The latter was an orange juice with  mint leaves and slight sprinkle of red chilly powder. The tanginess of orange and spicy red chilly was the amazing combination as you take a sip both the flavours were coming simultaneously and at the end of every sip mint leaves were leaving its cool effect in the mouth.  This drink was very refreshing as well as amazing,

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After finishing the starter session it was time for a slight break in which I took pictures of the ambiance that I will describe later. For the main course we were stuck due to limited choices in Veg. So finally, we decided to try Tahiri biryani as it has much resemblance to veg biryani.

The order was coming from far and I had my eyes stuck on the black colored round shaped earthen pot sealed with thick layer of white flour dough sprinkled with cumin and black sesame seeds served with thick curd perfectly beaten to gravy and sprinkled with red chili powder. As we opened the seal, within fraction of seconds my eyes went closed and my nostrils were getting the divine aroma of cinnamon, cardamom, clove, light fried onion and other spices.  Upon opening my eyes I witnessed light yellow colored long basmati rice immersed in the mixture of fried brown onions, green peas, finely diced carrot and chopped beans. Until now, we were moderately stuffed but still we had no intention to resist this amazing, mouth-watering and aromatic biryani. Rice were soft and well cooked, it was releasing the flavours perfectly. Even after giving such a detailed description, I would again recommend every vegetarian to try Tahiri biryani.

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Tahiri Biryani

Last but not the least, the special appearance was in climax as we had no plans for dessert, I was thinking to try one of the international ice dream brand situated nearby, but changed my mind just to complete the circle. Hence, we ordered Dark Chocolate Tart with vanilla ice cream. Thin triangle shaped tart coated with dark chocolate and loaded with a scoop of cotton soft vanilla ice cream gently melting from the top and spreading on the chocolate tart below. The dish was amazing but the presentation was equally amazing.  Just look at the pictures below.

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Dark Chocolate Tart

The complimentary was equally amazing. Raw papaya, cauliflower and onion pickle were talk of the day and the different varieties of chutney were going with every ordered dish. I would suggest you give a call for pickles, without hesitation, if in case it is not there on the table.

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Raw Papaya, Cauliflower and Onion Pickle

Service (4.5/5.0):

The success factor of any restaurants majorly depends on two things first is food and second is service. Through my ratings you can make it out that, I liked service more than food. It wasn’t about something extra was served or I was treated more carefully than other guest. It is because of those friends who inspired many people like me that life throws lots of hurdles and challenges in your path; turning those stones into a stepping-stone is our job. They were all cool, happy go lucky attitude, and  also doing their job in a disciplined manner. Everything came on my table at the right time in an absolute professional manner. I rarely get to see such efficient service in Mumbai.

Also, apart from internal service you have a valet parking available so you do not have to worry about your vehicle.

Pricing (4.0/5.0):

Pricing is reasonable but I found certain dishes on the slightly higher side. Like Rs. 225/- for kothimbir wadi and Rs. 395/- for biryani. Otherwise, it was good to go. For seven dishes, I paid approx Rs. 1900/- that comes around Rs.270/- per dish. They also have a tax structure in billing.

Ambiance (4.0/5.0) :

The place is not so big but I would say designed and managed perfectly. As you enter you will find a open hall with tables in the left, right and center. The bar counter is situated on the extreme right from the entrance. The restaurant has table options for every group size be it 2 or 20. It has dark floorings with bright yellow colored lightings and walls painted in soothing light colour to create a cool and calm atmosphere inside. It has a comfortable couch setup that relaxes your back. Also considering the location they have a table setup of around 15-20 people in one corner that has a designer wall showcasing artistic cutlery. Everything is clean and hygienic with right cooling atmosphere maintained. Also, a clean washroom facility is available. Please note a pre booking is definitely required or else you might have to wait for long, this is applicable for weekdays as well.

Overall, the place is great and a must visit to experience the extra-ordinary concept. I would like to visit again to try their new menu. Special thanks to Mangesh, Parag and Ranjan Chakraborty – Head of Operations.

All the very best.

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