The are restaurants where you enjoy the cooking but know you’ll never go again, and restaurants where you respect what they’re doing but it’s just not for you. And then every once in a while there’s a restaurant that you want to pick up and put in your pocket to take home so that you can eat there all the time. Chai Naasto is the latter. At first we thought we’d come to the wrong place – a residential street in the back end of Hammersmith – but there’s a lone row of shops and restaurants and slap bang in the middle is this little Indian street food gem. Indian street food is having a bit of a moment, replacing the kind of old-school curryhouses that get their sauces delivered by tanker with lighter, healthier tastes. We started with battered kale in a pomegranate, yoghurt and tamarind chutney sauce which was miles from the insipid green stuff usually promoted by Gwyneth Paltrow and a spiced potato cakes and yellow pea stew that came with pickled red onions worth the price of the dish on their own. Pani puri shots were delicious little pockets of bread and spice and came served on a miniature street food cart (to the delight of our neighbours). With mains like a seriously rich butter chicken, a wonderfully odd take on baked beans and prawns marinated in red chilli, black pepper and ginger this is going to end up being a neighbourhood favourite. Too bad it’s not my neighbourhood.
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