My obsession with Indian food continues. My friend Dawn, who is to blame for this obsession, recommended that I try Roti Chai Street Kitchen as its somewhere she goes to frequently with her husband’s Indian relatives and is as good as their grandma’s cooking apparently. Is there any better testimony than that?
Roti Chai was started by Rohit Chug. He began his career in food at The Cinnamon Club in Westminster and then setting up sister-site Cinnamon Kitchen; he had a strong desire to showcase the food he grew up eating and so went on to open his own restaurant in 2011. Located on a quiet mews just behind the very busy shopping Mecca of Oxford street, The Better Half (TBH) and I decided to combine a shopping trip with a delicious lunch and as Roti Chai has been in my list for a while, this was the perfect opportunity. Walking in, the restaurant was as buzzy as the street outside even at 3pm and looking around the full restaurant, I noticed that the clientele were mostly Asian or Middle Eastern – which speaks volumes for the quality and authenticity of the cooking.
The menu is split into smaller plates (Chaska, Street, Sabzi) and larger plates (Buns and Road & Rail) and the recommendation is that you get one or two small plates and a large plate per person. The problem is that all the small plates sounded so delicious that we got carried away and our waiter actually had to tell us that we’ve chosen too much food! So we skipped the large plates on the proviso that we would order more food if we felt it necessary. It wasn’t, so we missed out! Ah well, at least we have an excuse to return.
The food all comes when it’s ready and the first to arrive was the Pani Puri – semolina shells with potato, chickpeas and tamarind with sliced ‘jal jeera’ cumin water (£4.80). The shells were so incredibly thin, that it’s a wonder that they were able to hold the potato and chickpea mix. There was a lovely sweetness from the tamarind and the cumin water brought the whole dish together, although it did make the shell disintegrate rather quickly so you had to be quick to get into your mouth!
We also ordered the aloo papri chaat – crunchy wheat crisps, chickpeas, potato, yoghurt and a hot & sweet chutney (£4.80) and the chicken samosa chaat – chicken samosa, sweet yoghurt, tamarind (£5.90). Looking at the two dishes, they’re pretty similar in appearance but had such different textures. The aloo papri chaat was crunchy, yet the potatoes and chickpeas nice and soft. The chicken samosas were still crispy and the chicken filling succulent. If we had to pick one, we would both say this was our favourite dish of the meal.
I love me a chicken wing and there were two varieties on the menu. Agni ‘fire’ wings and the ones we chose on the recommendation of the waiter – Chicken lollipops – moreish Kerelan spiced chicken wings (£5.50). The table next to us ordered the Agni wings and I could see where the ‘fire’ comes from in the name – they were almost red in colour and I’m sure were super-spicy! The lollipops we went for had a lovely crispy coating, with very light spicing. I’m not sure what the green dipping sauce was, but it was tasty.
Hakka chilli paneer – fiery Indo-Chinese speciality from Kolkatta (£5.50) came next and this one nearly blew my socks off – it was as fiery as the name suggests. Totally more’ish though and I really enjoyed it.
Last but by no means least we had Dhokla – Gujurati steamed chickpea cake (£3.90). It didn’t look like it would be, but it was light and fluffy and had a lovely nutty taste to it. I used some of the jal jeera cumin water to add a bit more moisture and it was delicious.
We finished off by sharing a mango kulfi (£2.90), which was a refreshing end to our meal and really cooled the temperatures in our mouths.
Service was efficient as you would expect in this kind of restaurant, the team was friendly and energetic. Our total bill including drinks and service came to £56.36.
TBH commented this morning that he could eat that meal all over again today and I think that just says it all really! Fantastic food that doesn’t break the bank balance.
Until we eat again!