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A vibrant taste of India in Camden Town:
Chai Thali opened in February 2017. Tucked away in the back streets of Camden Town, a short walk from Mornington Crescent tube station is this excellent, authentic Indian restaurant serving delicious street food. Having recently returned from a trip to Goa I was delighted to be invited with a group of fellow bloggers and journalists to celebrate India’s national street food and taste some of some of the mouthwatering food on offer and for a glorious moment relive my visit to India.
Chai Thali is the innovation of its three owners. They conducted an extensive research project all over India and went about choosing the best and most iconic street foods both traditional and contemporary, creating authentic recipes with modern twists. The chefs all come from 5-star Indian chain hotels (Taj, Ambassador) and there is a designated tandoor chef. The aim is to create hot food with judiciously balanced spices whilst avoiding the fire. All dishes are free of artificial colourings and freshly marinated daily. The menu will change seasonally.
This colourful restaurant creates a good ambience with its funky hanging signs and simple wood and glass décor, there is a choice of seating areas including some booths, each one is named after a city from Bombay to Jaipur and Madras. There is also the fabulous Maharaja room, a seated dining room for 16 guests, ideal for parties and private functions.
Alongside the comprehensive menu, they serve a fine array of drinks including Indian beers and cocktails (with or without alcohol), some with an Indian Twist. I enjoyed a Chai Spiced Mojito, made with dark rum, chai syrup, mint leaves lime wedges, star anise. It was beautifully presented and tasted sultry and sweet, with a refreshing splash of soda. My fellow diners all were trying different cocktails, some served in chunky cups and glasses, each one looking more flamboyant than the next.
So after cocktails and some very tasty Kurkuri Bhindi (thinly sliced okra fried in gram flour batter sprinkled with chilli masala) to nibble, we were seated at a large table where the food flowed; appetisers, starters, mains and puddings.
I particularly enjoy the sharing aspect of this sort of dining experience, we had baskets of Mini Papad with chutneys, which were small, spicy popodom served with a great selection of relishes including mint, tamarind, mango and tomato, the perfect start to an Indian meal.
The Paani Poori look divine and adds appeal to any table – little what puff balls filled with masala potato served with individual sweet and sour tamarind water shots in shot glasses.
I couldn’t get enough of the Aloo Corn Tikki Chaat – potato and sweet corn patties- served with chole, yoghurt and tamarind chutney, mouthwatering parcels perfectly spiced with a tart sauce.
The Lamb Ki Chaampe – lamb chops marinated in spices served with kachumber, were beautifully browned with a spicy, robust flavour.
I enjoyed the large meaty Maharaja Prawns – King prawns marinated in spices and cooked in the clay oven.
The Murg Pahaadi Tikka – chicken cooked with a mint and coriander marinade cooked in the tandoor was absolutely delicious, I lived off these wonderful coriander based tandoor in India.
The chicken was remarkably tender, moist and well spiced. The Tandoor chicken tikka curry slow-cooked and garnished with cream is always a firm favourite and it didn’t disappoint, along with the flavoursome Daal Fry – assorted lentils cooked dhabba style.
This exciting menu offers great choice. I tried a wide selection of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes all of which were exceptionally good.
I finished off with the Mango Lassi, which proved to be the perfect pallet cleanser, a sweet, smooth, heavenly mango and yoghurt drink, a great alternative to a dessert.
So if you were taking a trip to Camden Town I would highly recommend taking the time to locate this fabulous street food restaurant for a real taste India, go and soak up the atmosphere and experience some of the fiery delights it has on offer.
Indian Street Food Bar & Restaurant
Centro 3, 19 Mandela Street, Camden, London NW1 0DU
Bookings: 020 7383 2030