A Hot Cuppa Happiness
Sitting with a hot cup of chai and a bowl of maggi noodles seems like true bliss. Ever heard of a cool hangout place which serves you both? The aptly named joint Chai, at Salunke Vihar in Pune, serves it all under one roof. Citadel tries it out.
When I first heard of Chai, I thought it’s just another hangout place in the city. As I found out more about it, I got to know that a host of different teas and Maggi are served here. Yummy as it sounds, I visited the place and was pleasantly surprised by the ambience. To begin with, the entrance has tables and chairs neatly laid out for visitors. However, what grabbed my attention outside were the umbrellas.
These umbrellas are made from the material we see on rickshaws and are also in black and yellow! This unique feature was done to match the retro-desi theme of the place.
As I went indoors, I was welcomed by the friendly owners and the manager of Chai.The place takes you back to a different era. It’s got nothing jazzy or gaudy about it, giving it a simple, yet pleasant feel. Settling down on the low seated wooden chairs, I began observing the interiors. Everything inside is related to tea. The walls, which are of cane and bamboo mats, better known to us as chatais, have original hand-painted posters of evergreen Bollywood stars. The lamp shades inside are aluminium kettles and chai vessels cut and shaped for bulbs to fit inside them. The cash counter is a chai tapri designed specially to suit the layout. The Hindi film songs played here blends in perfectly.
Aziza Degwekar, the owner of Chai, says, “Being hardcore tea lovers, we decided to start a place which serves different types of tea. Cafeterias are very common everywhere nowadays. So we decided to have a tea-feteria instead. We came up with Maggi noodles as a main part of the snacks, because it goes very well with a cup of tea and people are absolutely delighted with this concept. We have got a brilliant response from everyone.” Don’t miss reading the banners of humorous lines which are hung all around here.
More fascinating is what’s on the menu. There is plain tea, kulhar chai, masala chai, black tea, desi Maggi, Masala Maggi and lots more. Amongst the vast variety of teas, my favourite would be the tea which was in a medium sized earthen pot. When you take a sip of it, the fragrance and flavour makes you feel so divine and fresh, you just cannot keep the kulhar away. The health freaks can opt for the green tea. Another highly tasty type of tea is the masala chai. This has a peculiar smell of spices which absolutely soothes the throat and is a treat for the tongue. They also have raspberry, lemon and peach iced-teas among their coolants. These different types of teas spread a wonderful aroma all around, making the experience even more pleasurable. In the snacks, all the types of Maggi are must tries, especially the desi Maggi. It has a unique, spicy and tangy taste. The masala of this Maggi is made by owner Aziza Degwekar himself, especially to give the dish its one-of-a-kind essence.
While I know your mouth is watering already, let me tempt those taste buds even more. You can choose your favourite flavour of Maggi with a variety of fancy toppings to add to the fun. You can choose any toppings from the menu to go with your noodles, making your personalised bowl of Maggi even more exciting to eat. When it comes to my preference of these add-ons, I would pick the farsan topping. It is too crunchy to resist and goes perfectly with any kind of Maggi. The good part about the farsan topping is that it is complementary with all the flavours of noodles.
Non-vegetarians also have a plethora of Maggi flavours to choose from. Among these, the chicken Maggi is very popular. This place is surely heaven for faithful Maggi fans. Mind you, this isn’t all that Chai has to offer. Apart from tea and Maggi, there are different types of vegetarian and non-vegetarian puffs and rolls. Chicken nuggets are also an attraction here.
A cup of piping hot tea can never be complete without everyone’s old favourite, the bun-maska. It is a bun with layers of butter for all the foodies. The eggetarians can try egg rolls, puffs and other such snacks too. Among the egg snacks, I liked the aloo fried anda the most, which is an omelette stuffed with mashed potatoes. Onion pakodas are soon going to be introduced, as it will be in great demand during the monsoons.
The place hustles and bustles with happy families, couples, large groups of friends, youngsters and the aged, which makes it so lively. When asked about expansion plans for Chai, co-owner Tejas Degwekar shares, “We have got many franchisee offers. People want us to open outlets all over the city. We want to start one at Fergusson College Road and another at Koregoan Park. By January 2013, both these should hit the city.”
All these lip-smacking snacks and drinks go very easy on the pocket, so you can feast on as much as you want without worry. So many finger-licking delights all at one place is too good to keep away from. The experience I had here was so fabulous that I can barely stop myself from going there again and having another big meal! My suggestion to all food lovers around the city is to try out the irresistible flavours of Chai and be a part of this fun-filled experience.
Photographs: Allen Swamy
By Chaitrali Sardesai > email@example.com
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