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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Chatkazz Indian Street Food and Durga Paan, Harris Park

Dahi vada lentil doughnut Indian street food at Chatkazz Harris Park

Sydney might be far from the streets of Mumbai, but it only takes a 30-minute train ride from Central to get you to Harris Park, Sydney's Little India. Here you'll find an entire neighbourhood of Indian restaurants including Chatkazz, tucked away in a backstreet, serving up Indian street food. Not everything is fried, but all menu items are $10.90 or less, and all of it -- yes everything -- is vegetarian.

Outdoor seating at Chatkazz Harris Park

Locals eat dinner early around these parts, and by 6.30pm the place is already busy. The dining room inside can be a little noisy so we grab a table outside. Sure the car park is practically on your lap, but as Mr Bollywood points out, the noise and chaos only adds to the atmosphere. "It feels just like home!" he says with joyous excitement.

Onion pakora pav Indian street food at Chatkazz Harris Park
Onion pakora pav $2.50
Shredded onion fritters served in a bread roll with chutneys

The comprehensive menu can be a little intimidating at first, but staff are friendly and with the majority of dishes under $10, an ordering misstep is no real biggie. Order and pay at the register inside and your food is likely to arrive before you've even made it back to the table.

We started with the onion pakora pav. On the streets of Mumbai, they serve these deep-fried onion fritters in soft bread rolls. Not only does this make for easier eating, but there's a satisfying contrast between the crunch of onion and a pillowy bun slathered with melted butter. 

Khaman dhokla at Chatkazz Harris Park
Khaman dhokla $4.90
Savoury cakes made from chickpea flour 

Khaman dhokla hails from the state of Gujarat in India where its regional snacks are known as farsan. Dhokla is made from a fermented rice and chickpea batter, steamed and then sliced into hefty squares. They have a touch of sourness, much like sourdough, and should be dunked generously in the accompanying puddle of chutney that is sweet and spicy.

Dahi puri Indian street food at Chatkazz Harris Park
Dahi puri $6.50
Small crispy flatbreads mixed with boiled potato, chickpeas, chilled yoghurt and chutney

Looking for crunch? Get into the dahi puri, and quickly, before these deep-fried hollow orbs become soggy. Impossibly thin shells are filled with a mix of boiled potatoes and chickpeas then dressed with yoghurt, chutney and sev, shards of deep fried vermicelli made from chickpea flour.

It's sweet and sour, wet and crunchy, and trying to eat one without spilling it all over yourself is half the fun.

Sev puri Indian street food at Chatkazz Harris Park
Sev puri $5.90
Small crispy flat breads mixed with boiled potato, onion, tomatoes and chutney

Sev puri is another Mumbai specialty, piling on potatoes, onions and tamarind chutney onto flat crunchy discs. There's a snowstorm of sev over the entire plate, and the tamarind chutney adds an appetising tang to every mouthful.

Dahi vada lentil doughnut Indian street food at Chatkazz Harris Park
Dahi vada $6.50
Lentil doughnut soaked in sweet chilled yoghurt with chutney

The amount of work involved in a dahi vada isn't apparent at first. These lentil doughnut balls are deep-fried then soaked in water, squeezed gently and then soaked in yoghurt until they swell into fat dumplings. They're quite a substantial snack, lightened by a saucer of yoghurt and swirls of tamarind chutney.

Medu and idli vada sambhar at Chatkazz Harris Park
Medu and idli vada sambhar $6.90
Urad dal doughnut and steamed rice cake 

The urad dal doughnut looks more familiar, with a hole in the middle. They're made using black gram flour, perked up with a generous addition of cumin and green chilli. The white UFO is idli, a steamed rice cake that is soft and fluffy.

Chhole bhatura at Chatkazz Harris Park
Chhole bhatura $9.90
Spicy chickpea curry served with fried Indian bread, pickle and onions

Whatever you do, make sure you order the chhole bhatura. Two giant puffed up pillows of deep fried bread (bhatura) are the perfect bedfellows for chhole spicy chickpea curry. Tear off a piece of piping hot bread and then shovel up as much curry as you can.

Mysore masala Bombay style dosa at Chatkazz Harris Park
Mysore Masala (Bombay Style) Dosa $9.90
South Indian crepe stuffed with special Mysore chutney and vegetables

The mysore masala dosa isn't as crisp as others, but that's because the inside has been painted with a bright orange chutney made with chillies and grated coconut. The thin fermented crepe is best savoured with alternate dunks of lentil curry and coconut sambal.

Tava pulav at Chatkazz Harris Park
Tava Pulav $9.90
Stir fried rice cooked with chopped vegetables with tomato onion salad and pappadum

Don't be put off by the fried rice wording on the menu. The tava pulav is just an amped up pilaf, long slender grains of rice cavorting with golden brown onion, cumin, coriander and chilli. This dish is another Mumbai roadside classic, served with cool yoghurt, a folded pappadum and a refreshing salad of tomatoes and red onion slivers.

Pav bhaji at Chatkazz Harris Park
Pav bhaji $9.90
Spicy vegetable curry served with toasted buttered bread roll, tomato onion salad and pappadum

Okay so the cube of butter in the pav bhaji may have made my heart skip a beat, but delve in and you'll find a seriously tasty vegetable curry. Potatoes, peas, carrots and onions are all swimming about in a lake of rich and thick tomato curry.

Misal pav at Chatkazz Harris Park
Misal pav $9.90
Spicy sprouts and chickpea curry topped with coriander, onions and farsan served with bread rolls

We finish up with the misal pav, made from a sprouted lentil known as matki or moth bean. This curry is more of a gravy, with fat deep-fried sev noodles added for extra crunch.

Final result? $15 a head for our party of six. Bargain!

But wait. There's more.

Durga Paan and Falooda House

Durga Paan and Falooda House Harris Park

Wondering why people are wandering into the shop next door? It's all about dessert. On the menu you'll find mango lassi, milkshakes, ice cream and falooda, a rose syrup and milk drink with jelly and tapioca. Skip all of these and go straight for the paan if you're game.

Paan is all about chewing betel leaves. In India, it's commonly eaten as a snack, a mouth refreshener or digestive.

Mukhwas breath freshener at Durga Paan and Falooda House Harris Park
Mukhwas breath freshener

Paan comes in savoury or sweet versions. The sweet style is more easily approachable for newbies, combining candy-coated fennel seeds with preserved fruits, rose jam, shredded coconut, cloves and cardamom.

Preparing the paan at Durga Paan and Falooda House Harris Park
Preparing the paan

The paan are made to order, assembled on the counter and then rolled up into a triangular package that should be popped into the mouth in one go.

Meetha sweet paan at Durga Paan and Falooda House Harris Park
Meetha sweet paan with fennel seeds, fruits, coconut and spices $3

We found the paan here didn't produce that distinctive red colour often associated with betel leaf and betel nut chewing. It's a strange combination of coconut, sugar and licorice for the uninitiated, but for the Nepali ex-pat among us, it prompts a flood of happy memories.

NB. Long-term chewing of betel nut leaves has been linked with cancer. Studies have also found adverse effects on newborns if consumed by those who are pregnant.

Paan ingredients at Durga Paan and Falooda House Harris Park

View Larger Map
Chatkazz on Urbanspoon Durga Paan and Falooda House on Urbanspoon

Shop 4, 14-20 Station Street East, Harris Park, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8677 0033

Opening hours:
Monday 5pm - 10pm
Tuesday to Friday 10am - 10pm
Saturday and Sunday 9am - 10pm

Durga Paan and Falooda House
Shop 3, 14-20 Station Street East, Harris Park, Sydney
Tel: +61 (0)450 458 895

Opening hours:
Open 7 days 1pm - 11pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Harris Park - Indian Chopsticks
Indian - Akash Pacific, Liverpool
Indian - Maya Masala, Surry Hills
20 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 1/16/2014 12:46:00 am


  • At 1/16/2014 12:51 am, Blogger Sherrie @ Crystal Noir said…

    Indian is a cuisine that I'm quite unfamiliar with though I may give it a try soon when the chance arises!

  • At 1/16/2014 5:15 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    I love the idea of the paan! Though I'm also missing home a bit now, because my mum often has candy-coated fennel seeds around for after-dinner nibbling.

  • At 1/16/2014 8:25 am, Blogger Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    there's sooooooo much to try in harris park. although i have to say there's also only so much indian food i can eat haha

  • At 1/16/2014 9:06 am, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    wow you don't really see anything like this in the city?

  • At 1/16/2014 9:10 am, Anonymous john | heneedsfood said…

    I had no idea that Harris Park was an Indian hotspot. I've been hankering real Indian food, and by the look of it, this appears to be just like the stuff I saw in India several years ago.

    And those sweets look just like the stuff I saw on the streets in Mumbai!

  • At 1/16/2014 9:13 am, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    I love Indian food but don't eat nearly enough of it. Never been to Harris Park, but looks like a visit is in order - all those carbs and curries!

  • At 1/16/2014 9:54 am, Blogger Mel said…

    Harris Park is THE BEST! So many GREAT Indian places to choose from - this one is new to me so I'll be keen to hit it up...all your food looks fantastic!

  • At 1/16/2014 11:53 am, Blogger Down To Feed [DTF] said…

    Looks delicious! Harris Park definitely has some of the best Indian food in sydney!

  • At 1/16/2014 12:47 pm, Blogger Milktea Eats said…

    ive never ad authentic indian must go down to harris park one day to check it out.

  • At 1/16/2014 1:48 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    deep fried fluffy pillows?? IM ON IT

  • At 1/16/2014 10:51 pm, Blogger Winston said…

    Oh wow. This is really Indian food like I've never seen before. I know that as much as I love Indian food, my knowledge and experience of the cuisine is vastly limited and barely scratching the surface. I love discovering new dimensions of the cuisine, especially when they have a regional touch. I haven't had Indian food in ages I really wish I were in Sydney to check this place out =/

  • At 1/16/2014 11:09 pm, Anonymous Cindy (A Foodie's Joy) said…

    I LOVE urad dal doughnuts, better known to me as vadai!

  • At 1/18/2014 11:30 pm, Anonymous Sara | Belly Rumbles said…

    The food at Chatkazz looks like an awesome vegetarian cheap eat. I must admit, when I got to your 'But wait. There's more' I had an instant need!

    I WANT PAAN!! This is the stuff I have only seen on foodie travel channels. We have it here and I want it :)

  • At 1/19/2014 12:56 pm, Blogger vegeTARAian said…

    Oh my, what a bargain vegetarian feast! Those dishes look fantastic. I love Harris Park - I've now added Chatkazz to my wishlist.

  • At 1/19/2014 8:40 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    I haven't had many Indian but dam... those curries look so good that I think i need to go again

  • At 1/20/2014 9:26 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    Wow! I've never been out to the suburbs in Sydney - now I think I'm missing out on a whole lot!

    That all looks so delicious, and quite different from the Indian food I've had before (must be from different regions). So much to discover!

  • At 1/22/2014 2:47 pm, Anonymous Daisy@Nevertoosweet said…

    I don't eat enough Indian food and clearly i'm missing out :) Everything looks wonderful and such such such a bargain for $15 per head!

    But that's more interesting is the Paan and chewing the betel leaves but I have heard about the negative effects ~ it still looks interesting though and doesn't even look like a place in Sydney hehe if I didn't know any better I would've thought you were in India!

  • At 1/22/2014 3:14 pm, Anonymous billy @ a table for two said…

    One of my friends just told me about this hot spot last year and urged me to go to check it out. Good to see you beat me to it! Did you have the paan in one go or nibble a little bit at a time? :)

  • At 1/22/2014 11:01 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Simon Leong - All the good stuff is in the suburbs!

    Hi John - It's an incredible part of Sydney. You should definitely go!

    Hi Melanie - Perfect for Meatfree Monday too :)

    Hi Winston and Sarah - You'll both have to come to Sydney for a week so you can explore our awesome west.

    Hi Daisy - Best part about Sydney suburbs is feeling like you've travelled abroad sometimes!

    Hi Billy - All in one go! lol

  • At 2/01/2015 4:16 pm, Anonymous Sandra said…

    Just back from our first visit to Harris Park, and went to Chatkazz after reading your post. God it was good! Vego partner was in heaven, and we can't wait to go back. Thank you for this review!


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