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Real Treat

PRATHIBHA PARAMESWARAN spices up her tastebuds with some variety `chaat' preparations.


GOOD FOOD and ambience of a restaurant always help to retain sweet memories of a dine-out. An eating joint that offers a good combination for both the mind and the body is really a treat.

And Tiruchiites can now discover one such place - the Shree Gangothree restaurant.

It is a place that caters to the taste of not just the sizable North Indian population in and around the city, but also the younger generation, who are fast developing a taste for ``chaats and channas'' besides the sweets.

All time favourites Gulab jamun, coconut burfis, badusha, mysore pak disappear fast off the trays here. The other sweets made with pure milk and sugar like Ras malai, badam pathali, kaju pista roll, sugar-free fruit roll, kesar peda, kesar kalakand, milk halwa, vanilla burfi and chocolate too compete with equal delight among the customers.

Chef Poonam Chand Malik says, ``Most Bengali sweets are made of pure milk which is continuously boiled until it solidifies.'' Cashews, pistas, badams and saffron are added as per requirement. The chef has also experimented with the taste of his sweets. Like adding a bit of vanilla or chocolate essence or even bournvita to render a particular flavour. ``We mostly do it on special requests,'' he says.

An evening visit offers greater variety as that is the time when chaat items move across the counters. Besides the samosas, cutlets, pani puris, bhel puris, masala puris, pav bhajis, dahi puris, sev puris and aloo tikki channa, the joint is famous for its variety of kachoris and papdi chaats. The chaat specialist at the counter, Shankar Kumar Gupta, has struck a good rapport with his North Indian customers who never cease to pour in. ``College students have taken a liking to his food and made Shree Gangothree their favourite haunt. On Sundays we get a big crowd of mostly North Indian students.

It shows they do not have much choice in the city as far as a chatpata chaat menu is concerned,'' says a confident restaurant manager S.S. Ramaswamy.

He acknowledges that Shankar's papdi chat and pav bhaji are huge hits. Basic ingredients for chaat items are moong dal, besan, mirch, adrak, all of which are ground in to a paste. Garam masala, dhaniya powder, ajuvaen, zeera and saunf are the other important ingredients, Shankar divulges bit of his recipes.

But how does his pani puri taste so much better than the home made ones? His pani puris sell like hot cakes as he makes it a point to enquire with every customer his or her choice of taste. Shankar offers three flavours — sweet, hot and plain — and there is an equal demand for all. Karela and dokla chaats are perhaps lesser-known items among the people.

Yet Shankar is flooded with orders and it is only on Sunday mornings that one may be lucky to get them to eat at the restaurant. The joint does not offer any regular soft drinks or beverages. However, the manager is planning to include a milk and badam shake, lime juice and lassi soon to the menu to perk up his customers further.

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