#223: Chaat Paradise Indian Vegetarian

This evening was Chaat Paradise for dinner.  A new Indian vegetarian spot in the Renaissance Creek Shopping Center at Douglas & Sierra College.  It took the place of Asian Bliss, originally Mongolian Bliss.  The place continues to remain largely unchanged from the Mongolian restaurant.  In fact, they still have the original round grill.  These days it’s just used as a table in the kitchen though.

I was joined by my mother & grandmother and we headed in a little after 5.  It was quiet inside, just one table was occupied.  We gradually made our way towards the back where the ordering counter was located with a menu hanging over it.  Both my mother and I had each checked out the menu online in advance, however the website only listed dish titles.  I know a handful of dishes but I definitely needed to see some more detail, same with the others.  Luckily the menu had a little description of each item.  That was a bit small though and we obviously looked like we needed some time to peruse it anyway so they offered for us to have a seat and bring us some menus.  In addition to the hanging board menu and some paper take-out menus they had a handful of laminated ones.   We were handed a few of these and someone completed some missing place settings and left us with a pitcher of water while we looked over them.

Everything is pretty much a-la-carte here as far as I can tell.  Other than some of the items coming with rice, you just mix and match whatever you want.  The prices are all pretty low, anything from $2-8ish.  We had picked out several items and soon we had a gentleman at our table ready to take our order.  Normally you would order and pay up at the counter and take a number to an empty table, so this was a little different than usual, I would guess.  I listed off all the items we wanted and asked, towards the end, how big the portion sizes were and if he thought we should order more or less.  He indicated that one would be big enough for two to share.  That seemed like a lot, especially for the prices, but we went ahead with our selections.  We could always have leftovers for lunch.

They didn’t have the TV on and there was no music so it was pretty quiet, aside from a little conversation here and there and the sound of a mixer on the front side of the kitchen.  After about 7 minutes I received my mango lassi (classic yogurt drink flavored with mango)[$2].  It came in the same little steel cups that were used for water.  I was kind of disappointed in the size for $2.  For 1.5-2x more you usually get a pretty huge glass in most places, this was maybe 6-8oz.  It was chilled and tasty, however.  A few minutes later our first item arrived.  This was the pav vada (deep fried stuffed potatoes served on bread)[$3].  It wasn’t much to look at until I cut it into three pieces to share.   It was fairly basic and potato-y but packed a surprising amount of spice.

A few minutes later the mixed pakora (potato, onion, chili and cauliflower dipped in chickpea flour)[$3] was delivered.  This was a large appetizer for just $3.  The pieces were large, 2 was more than enough per person and we had a 7th to spare which I took home.  Served with it were green and tamarind chutneys.  The green was pretty mild while the tamarind was intensely sweet.  The pakora itself was fresh out of the frier, super hot and crisp.  Lots of potato in these.

There was a bit of a break, 8ish minutes, and then the rest of our items all showed up together.  Here we had the hara bhara paratha (bread stuffed with cheese, potato, cauliflower & spices)[$3], sag paneer (home made cheese cooked with spinach and spices)[$7] and chilli paneer (home made cheese cooked with bell pepper & onions)[$7].  I was a little slow on the bread photo and someone grabbed a chunk.  I thought that was kind of boring, there wasn’t much to it and I didn’t really notice any cheese or spice to it.  The woman that delivered these last items brought out a little ramekin with a chilled yogurt dip for it.  This saved it in my opinion.

The paneer dishes were both excellent.  A dish of rice was served with the sag paneer.  The cheese was very mild and dense as usual.  I quite enjoy it.  The spinach was delicious and smooth with a bit of spice that grew over a few bites.  The chilli paneer was very flavorful, with it’s bell peppers dominating.  It had the most spice of everything we ordered. Keep in mind that we ordered everything as mild, so I imagine you could get some serious heat here if you wanted.

We waited on another dish for a little bit, paneer tikka masala, which the gentleman apparently missed as I was giving him our order.  He even confirmed that we had 5 items.  I just thought at the time he wasn’t counting the bread so that was my mistake.  We really didn’t need it anyway, we were all stuffed.  After the woman returned and gave us some boxes and a bag I went up to register to pay the whopping $27 bill.  Everyone we interacted with was super friendly.  The quality, quantity and overall value here is great and I know we will be back.  I hope they can stick it out longer than their predecessors.  Perhaps not having “Bliss” in the name will help.

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