FOOD AND THE CITY

Chai Pani brings Bombay street food to Bridgeland

Fans of Mango Shiva will be happy to hear that the team behind the well-known Stephen Avenue restaurant has opened up a smaller, more casual Indian street food eatery in Bridgeland.

It’s a nod to old school Iranian chai cafes of Old Bombay

From left: Chai Pani owners Kam Dhillon and Raj Dhillon with chef Param Brar. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

Fans of Mango Shiva will be happy to hear that the team behind the well-known Stephen Avenue restaurant has opened up a smaller, more casual Indian street food eatery in Bridgeland.

"Our lease ran up, and so we thought we'd open something new in our neighbourhood," says Raj Dhillon, who owned Mango Shiva with her husband Kam. The pair moved to Bridgeland in May and opened Chai Pani in January.

It's a nod to old school Iranian chai cafes of Old Bombay, known for serving up casual "chai pani", which translates to "tea and water" but in Indian context refers to a casual get-together over food.

Chai Pani’s papri chaat salad and vindaloo lamb kebab curry. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

"We thought we'd do something more casual, focus on takeaway, along the likes of Tuk Tuk Thai," says Kam.

Located at the end of 9th Street, next to the Bridgeland LRT station, there's free parking on the adjacent streets, so it's easy to pop in.

With 16 seats and a patio planned for warmer months, the menu is already in the midst of being revamped. Soon there will be hakka noodles and biryani, one of the dishes that will also be available from the cooler to grab and go. They're on the verge of being licensed but until then, you can get a strong glass of Mumbai-style chai — spiced Indian black tea with milk and sugar.

They enlisted the help of chef Param Brar, who was the chef at Mango Shiva for more than 10 years. who is still making some of his much-loved Mango Shiva classics.

Chai Pani is a nod to old school Iranian chai cafes of Old Bombay, known for serving up casual "chai pani”, which translates to “tea and water” but in Indian context refers to a casual get together over food. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

"It's the same team, with the same chef back there," says Raj.

The focus is on street food to eat in or take to go — curries (think butter chicken, beef kebab kashmiri curry, vindaloo pulled pork and Punjabi saag walla) wrapped up in soft flatbread to make a kati roll or served with white or brown basmati rice; bowls include a vindaloo lamb kebab curry (their best seller), tandoori prawns in tamarind coconut, curried black chickpeas and goat rogan josh, and the snacks menu has pakoras, samosas and a killer sweet-sour-crunchy-soft-tangy papri chaat salad.

With what seems like the perfect combination of casual, affordable and delicious food that's good to go, or stay, along with some really fun branding, maybe we'll see more locations of Chai Pani pop up in neighbourhoods throughout the city.