Hang out at Myrtle Beach and you live on snacks, right? Calabash fried shrimp, burgers, fries, sno-cones.
Same thing in India. Hang out at Chaupaati, the bustling beach outside the city of Mumbai, and you’re in a paradise of chaat – Indian snack foods.
Now a new eatery called Chaupaati brings those favorites to south Charlotte.
Try aloo tikka chaat, a potato pancake topped with lentils, minced onion, sweet tamarind sauce and tiny crisps called sev that are made from chickpea flour. It’s crunchy, gooey and intensely flavorful, just what you want a snack food to be.
Many menu items are vegetarian, common in South Asia. Want meat? Order Chicken 65, fried nuggets coated in Indian spices, doused in a red sauce, then sprinkled with fresh onion. Or get Momo chicken dumplings, a specialty from Nepal available only on weekends.
Star of the chaat menu is dahi puri. Crispy bite-sized puffs are stuffed with morsels of potato, chickpea, cilantro and spices, then drizzled with yogurt and tamarind and dusted with sev. Pop one whole into your mouth and it explodes with flavor.
Manager Sadhya Dahal often takes your order. Dahal grew up in Nepal, and met co-owners Samir and Ami Patel from India in the MBA program at Wake Forest University.
Like a beach-front eatery, their restaurant is informal and self-service. “We wanted a place where you could pop in for one samosa,” says Sadhya. Wall murals depict food pushcarts on a sandy strand. Subtle blue lighting recalls the sea.
Tables fill up on weekends with Indian families who come to shop at Patel Brothers, a busy Indian supermarket (“Celebrating Our Food … Our Culture”) tucked behind a Wells Fargo bank nearby.
Tom Hanchett is staff historian at Levine Museum of the New South: email@example.com.
Chaupaati Casual Indian Kitchen
ADDRESS: 9101-l Pineville-Matthews Road, Pineville.
DETAILS: 980-498-1555; www.chaupaatirestaurant.com.