Osama Jalali is synonymous with two things – one is his encyclopedic knowledge in food and secondly that the recipes he chooses to showcase are well researched, authentic and brings forth our country’s culinary diversity. So when he decided to open his first restaurant, which was completely vegetarian and dealt with street food from across India, you first think why and then are very intrigued and excited in equal measure.
Masala Trail by Osama Jalali celebrates street food like very few restaurants do. It not only has a well-researched menu (surprise!) but also items on the menu that take you back to a place where we first fell in love with food.
Our food sojourn began with a variety of chaats that the menu has. The Banarsi tamatar ki chaat, Kanpuri gadbad chaat and a layer chaat. I must confess that I am no street food expert, but the tamatar ki chaat was a revelation. Warm, with a superbly mellow tangy flavour and the crunch coming from cashew nuts, it was fantastic. Moreover, the sweet flavour that balanced the tangy came from the Gulab Jamun ki chashni ! Go beat that! After eating this I realised that we have been doing innovative food for a very long time, just haven’t discovered it in a big way until now.
The gadbad chaat is a must eat as well. It is called gadbad as it is a mix of everything – tikki, potato sabzi, many chutneys and topped with some boondi on top that makes it next level. Finger lickin good!
The Ashok Vihar ke matar kulcha were spot on too – spicy and homely. Tasting so much food everyday , I love it when restaurants surprise me with a dish I haven’t had before and Panki was that dish. Made of rice flour batter, it is steamed between banana leaves and served with chutney it is light, healthy yet so intricate and well balanced. You get the taste of curd with the slight hint of hing and other spices.
The crunchy dabeli was quite good too but my favourite dishes were the two main course I had – Chalukya Dosa and Madua Poori.
The Chalukya Dosa took me straight back to the sights and smells of Bangalore – Thick, crisp dosa smattered with the perfect spice seasoning and served with sambar; it made my afternoon. As Osama told us it is quite difficult to sell Dosa next to Saravana Bhavan, but hey when the dosa is this good, it does not matter!
The Madua pooris were brilliant on their own but even better with the chutney and chokha accompanying it. Crispy raagi pooris were some of the best I have had outside of my home and you should visit this place just for this if for nothing else.
We also had idiyapams with a phenomenal fennel and coconut flavoured korma and from Rajasthan a superb khichdi and bajre ki roti platter.
The thing about this place is that you cannot just be satisfied with one visit, you need to come over and over and have many different dishes from many different parts of our country to do complete justice.
In fact traveling to every corner of the country and sampling its food is a lifelong dream for many; traveling may need to be done by you but the food is sorted with Masala Trail.