Chaat Paradise: Enjoying Meat-Free Indian Food in Silicon Valley

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Indian Restaurant Silicon Valley

Considering the relative strengths of the Silicon Valley dining scene, at least one Indian meal was inevitable. Several online resources, including the San Francisco Chronicle, recommended Chaat Paradise, a vegetarian, Gujarati style restaurant that’s occupied the back corner of a Mountain View strip mall for the past 12 years, and due to its popularity, expanded last year. The location was also convenient for Jess Dang, a friend of a friend who, I learned during lunch, competed on Food Network Star, the season (2) that Guy Fieri vaulted to stardom. Chaat Paradise may not have been Johnny Garlic’s or Tex Wasabi’s, but but it did deliver some good Indian veg.

Mr. Patel’s sprawling restaurant featured tile floors, a red and green sign that read “Swagatam” – “welcome” in Hindi – and a massive panoramic photo of Mt. Kailash. Near the entrance, Chaat Paradise also housed a shrine to multiple gods, including Lord Hanuman, who appeared in the form of a monkey, and Lord Shiva, a female god with a cobra necklace.

The menu fell into three basic categories: Mouth Watering Snacks, Vegetable Delights and Tawah Rotis. With only two people, we weren’t going to make a huge dent, though we tried.


Indian Food Silicon Valley
One of the dishes that instantly intrigued me was Chinese Bhel ($4.50), which basically turned out to be an Indian version of American chop suey, with one-inch cuts of spaghetti-like noodles, bell pepper, crunchy cabbage and diced tomato in a savory soy and tomato ketchup sauce. This noodle dish could have easily gone south, fast, but it somehow worked. Jess said that Chinese food was popular during her visit to India, and she even knew of another restaurant in the area that specialized exclusively in that peculiar fusion. Note to self: eat more Indian-Chinese food.

Indian Food Silicon Valley
It didn’t look like it, but Dal Panchvati ($6.50) featured five different types of dal (lentils) seasoned with herbs and cumin. The chunky, earthy yellow slurry also hosted bits of green mung bean, and what looked like black “seeds” were actually black garbanzo beans.

Indian Food Silicon Valley
Mutter Paneer ($6.50) was another flavorful dish, with firm cubes of home-made cow’s milk cheese cooked in spicy, creamy sauce with no-doubt-canned mutter (peas) that still tasted great when seasoned with onion, garlic, tomato and more.

Indian Food Silicon Valley
Hara Bhara Paratha ($3.25) was the only one-note dish, pan fried whole wheat bread stuffed with minced spinach, potatoes, cauliflower and “Chaat Paradise special spices.” A tangy yogurt sauce with strands of carrot helped, but the paratha was pretty dense and unenjoyable.

To drink, Chaat Paradise sold Indian classics like masala chai tea with milk, cardamom and Indian herbs; and four kinds of lassis, including plain salted, mango, gulab (rose) and khus, which intrigued me most. Unfortunately, they’d sold out of the key ingredient, poppy seed syrup.

The meal at Chaat Paradise was solid and low cost, and my conversation with Jess yielded even more satisfying restaurant recommendations. That pretty much has to qualify as good value.

Chaat Paradise: Enjoying Meat-Free Indian Food in Silicon Valley

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Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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