Chai Pani: Indian Street Food Comes to Decatur

The building that used to house The Watershed in Decatur, which has been standing empty for months, is the new home of Chai Pani. Serving up a variety of mindblasting (their word) dishes, Meherwan and Molly Irani have brought Bombay street food to West Ponce.

Chef Meherwan has created a menu packed with exotic flavors from all over India’s culinary and geographic landscape, with dishes ranging from small plates (chaat) to Indian hand food, to crepes (uttapam), and traditional entrees (thalis).

The brightness of Watershed’s decor has made way for vibrant Bollywood colors, street murals, Tata truck decor pieces, and beautiful photographs that capture the simple beauty of everyday Indian life.

At the Chai Pani launch night on Tuesday, we sampled some of the menu, and loved everything, but the stand-outs were:

SBDP (Sev Batata Dahi Puri)

This is a hollow puffed wheat cracker stuffed with spiced potatoes, onion, cilantro, sprouted mung beans, sweetened yogurt, green chutney, and topped with crispy chick pea noodles. If that sounds busy, the taste explosion you get when you eat one of these flavor bombs will have your taste buds working overtime to figure out what the heck just happened.

Kale Pakoras

Indian style savory fritters made by dipping kale in curried chick pea batter and deep frying it. It’s served with Chai Pani’s one-two punch of sweetened yogurt and green chutney.

Okra Fries

Julienned okra, flash-fried and then tossed in a secret blend of spices will have you wondering how this is the first time you’ve ever heard of okra being prepared this way.

Vada Pav

Ever had a potato burger? This spicy potato dumpling, fried in a curried chick pea batter and topped with green and tamarind chutney, served on a toasted sweet bun.

If these sound a little to vegetarian for your taste, you could try the Sloppy Jai. It’s a spiced lamb hash, simmered with tomatoes, ginger, and aromatic spices. It’s served on a toasted bun, and for condiments you get onions, cilantro, green chutney, and sweet yogurt.

Chai Pani opens its doors for lunch at 11:30am on Friday March 1st, and will be open Tuesday through Sunday, 11:30am-3:30pm, and 5:30pm-10:00pm.