Review: Streetside chaat and motichoor-inspired ice cream — Dadu’s Masala Republic serves the best of vegetarian fusion food
Anyone in the twin cities who is a connoisseur of Indian sweets is doubtlessly aware of Dadu’s Mithai Vatika, which opened its first spot in 1993, followed by branches across the city. Now comes its first restaurant, Masala Republic, replacing chaat centre, Dadu’s Purani Dili. The month-old restaurant has garnered particular interest not only for its location (Himayath Nagar) but also for its concept of 100 per cent authentic vegetarian food. The mortar and pestle logo is possibly a nod to that!
Chit ’n’ chaat
On a bustling rainy Monday, we’re welcomed into the new outlet with a comforting aroma of spices that reminds us of the narrow streets of Chandini Chowk. We also spot a kiosk making hot jalebis at the entrance. The 120-seater is opulent and bright with modern décor — think chandeliers, cream-coloured walls and sunlight streaming through glass windows. While the ambience gives you a fine-dining vibe, one look at the menu, and you know you’re in for a grub fest. “Indian cuisine is known for its masala and that’s simply why we named it Masala Republic. While we majorly serve food from across the country, we try to give it a twist with some global flavours,” says chef Upender Singh, as he serves us half a dozen pani puris. Stuffed with aloo and boondhi, Pani Puri Sliders come with four flavours of pani — mint, tamarind, guava and pineapple.
What follows is an array of chaat servings. Each delivers a colourful riot you’d hope for — crunchy papdis, splattered with yoghurt and tamarind sauce. While one is anchored by a cup-shaped potato (Agra Dalia), another is a kachori made of activated carbon — Kattappa Chaat.
But discerning chaat lovers should directly go for Papad Papdi Seashell Chaat — papadis cooked in the shape of a seashell with mint foam and dahi balls — that you can pick up and eat with your fingers, like chocolates. Another must-try is the Wood Smoked Spongy Dhokla — the Gujarati special dish is served in the form of a sandwich.
Tempted by tempura
After tasting a plethora of chaat, we take a breather with a tall glass of refreshing Mild Madras. Meanwhile, we spot Chef Upender arrive with unique starters, which includes 15-inch papad! “That’s a Kadak Rumali Roti,” he informs us, pointing to the snack. “It takes a rough 25 minutes to cook and later, sprinkled with in-house masala,” he adds.
This time, we also get to taste dishes from the Asian section. While the Veg Dimsums don’t impress us, their Tempura Okra is a winner! Sliced okra is fried in tempura batter and flavoured with the masala. The main course menu at Masala Republic is quite extensive — Boti N Roti and Monk Meat Biryani to name a few. However, you could settle for something basic and save space for the desserts. After all, you’re in one of the city’s most popular sweet shop!
After a few minutes of dilemma, we settle for the Rose Kheer Cheesecake and Green Apple Jalebi. While the former is satisfying, the jalebi is overwhelmingly sweet and comes with rabdi-filled ghevar (cup-shaped sweet cake). For ice cream lovers, we suggest you try the unique Motichoor Ladoo and Kibana flavours.
Price for two: Rs.1,000.