We bid adieu to Vighnaharta today and my eyes checked the next festive dates on the calender. I am so much used to the festivities which begin with Shravan…followed by Ganesh Pujan in Bhadrapad and then the Navratri and Dasshehra. My childhood spent in Bengal was full of festivities from Shravan till Christmas. We all celebrated Ganeshotsav at Maharashtra Mandal, Calcutta. It was an amazing 10 day celebration which included loads of performances from all the children and adults alike. After Vighnaharta’s farewell, it was Durga Puja, I waited for. The whole pada bore a festive look with buntings and pandal up for Devi Durga. I still can recall dhak and shank resonating in the atmosphere during Sharadotsav!Even our local Puchka wala and Jhal mudi wala decorated their “choto” stall during such occasions and would perch up by the pandals. All the kids would savour their delicacies almost everyday. Puchka, bhel, jhalmuri, dahi bhalle were everyday things. I never thought, I would be yearning for these ever in my life. Life took a different turn though. Ever since I have landed in land of Sahab’s…I have been on a hunt for taste that is pitched rightly for Indian palates. Very few have managed that wah! kamal ka taste! Initially, I managed churning up street foods for my men at home…getting hold of right spices, mint and tamarind chutney, sev and other garnishings. Sometimes, they turned out to be right and at others we thought…wish we had those pani puri walla’s, jhal muri walla’s around us. However, with the rise in Asian community in and around London, I see that the High Streets are dotted with few fantastic outlets which certainly do deserve appreciation for Indian Street Food flavours…one such discovery we made tonight was the Chaat Centre in Quality Foods Hounslow.
After we filled our trollies with Indian grocery(well, after checking the dates, I am already planning my Diwali) and vegetables…we all stopped at a tiny chaat bhandar by the Quality Foods entrance. I had heard, that their pani puri was amazing. I turned my eyes to check if my family was ok with me ordering at the place. I had a quick nod from them all. I asked the bhaiya in my typical Indian way..”ek plate mein kitne bhaiya”(how many in a plate, as I glanced on the painted menu at top, pani puris’ cost £2.00 a plate)…got a quick reply “cheh”(six) I had a medium tikha(spiced in terms of heat), while a few with us had more tikha.
I could smell the lovely aromas of the spices in the mixes Sanjay placed in each puri and Vijay Kumar took turn with the flavoured water which he poured generously in each puri. As I placed one puri in my mouth, my eyes widened…and I looked at everyone and signed fantastic with my index finger and thumb! I did not wish to spend any more time on talking about it…wanted the next one right away!! I realised my husband had finished his and he turned to Sanjay for another plate of jyada tikha(highly spiced) of panipuri..and I knew that his tongue has been rightly set ablaze!!
Each of their dishes cost a mere £2.00. I must second my friend who suggested me to stop and try the street food at this place. Each plate is served in a very clean manner. The taste is just amazing and of course value for money!
I checked with Sanjay Kumar if we could take his picture and write about his venture on my blog. He agreed immediately and offered us a plate of bhel. Ah!! I must say, the chopped kairi(mango bits) in bhel with the tangy tamarind chutney and the chaat masala combo played magic on the plate. Sanjay said, he has come all the way from Diu in India and is here in UK for more than 2 decades now. He and his brothers started the chaat bhandar at Quality foods Southall first. Hounslow is their second venture, which is around 8 months old. Very soon, he said, they plan to be in Slough too!! As we chatted, Sanjay had already prepared a lovely plate of dahi shev puri for us!! It was kind of embarrassing for us…we sounded like greedy lots!! However, this humble man Sanjay insisted that we taste his creation. We did…..It is amazing how the addition of dahi(yoghurt) makes a complete change in the tastes. The green chutney tasted so well with the yoghurt filled puris this time. We could see that it got very busy every minute. Sanjay mentioned that he is there every day at 10 am till 8 in the evening. He is churning out the snacks each day to the crowd which tends to swell during the weekends. I asked if he had any helping hands at home to prepare these. To this Vijay Kumar quipped, “Hum hi apne aap ki madat karte hai”(we help ourselves) We wished him and his brother the very best for there future…and said we look forward to Slough’s chaat bhandar as it will be much more closer to visit:)
If you have Asian(Indian) shopping planned in or around Hounslow, please do stop and visit Sanjay Kumar and his brother Vijay Kumar at
Quality Foods – Hounslow
49 Bell Road, Town Centre
Hounslow, TW3 3NX