(Ed. Note: I'm happy to share with you this guest post from I Love Memphis intern Savannah Lyons about her visit to Bombay Chaat Corner. Also congrats to Savannah on her recent graduation from the University of Memphis!)
In my final semester of school, I took an Indian literature class; it quickly became a favorite. While I learned a lot about the country’s history and culture, there was one thing I still wasn’t sure about — what authentic Indian food tasted like.
After hearing about Bombay Chaat House through my professor (thanks, Dr. Scraba!), my friend Julianne and I decided to give the low-key Indian restaurant a try. It’s located inside the India Bazaar, which is on Hacks Cross Road.
First thing’s first: Bombay Chaat Corner is not the place to go if you’re looking for white tablecloths and fine china. There isn’t any music or interior design flourishes. Food is served in paper bowls and styrofoam cups. And the numerical menu list is backwards.
But for me, that’s what gave it its charm.
The atmosphere is totally laid-back. Pick a drink from the glass door freezer, order your meal at the counter (cash only!), and sit where you want. When your food is ready, the cook will get your attention with a wave so you know to come pick it up and bring it back to your table.
So, what’s chaat? According to the restaurant’s website (and Google), it’s savory fast-food you’d find road-side in stalls or food carts in India. Think boiled potatoes, chickpeas, yogurt sauce, and lots of spices.
Julianne, who is much more of an Indian food connoisseur than me, ordered the samosas ($3/2 samosas) and pappadi chaat ($4). I ordered my own samosas, along with dosa, thanks to a recommendation from the cook.
They had a few soft drinks and juices, including sugar cane and lychee. We both tried the guava juice, which was sugary sweet and had a flavor similar to watermelon.
It’s not the type of beverage I’d normally go for, but it ended up contrasting nicely with the hot and spicy food.
First: our samosas. They definitely sold the show. The outer pastry was fried golden brown, then stuffed with spiced potatoes, onions, peas, and lentils. The brown sauce pictured above was tangy and sweet, more like a syrup. The green sauce was mild and savory, a contrast to the "pow!" of the spicy samosa filling.
Considering how delicious, satisfying, and versatile this dish is, being able to get 2 for $4 is a steal.
Next came pappadi chaat. To be blunt, this one just didn’t do it for us. It was boiled potatoes, chickpeas, yogurt sauce and chutneys, garnished with spices, and topped with crunchy wafers (Cinnamon Toast Crunch without the cinnamon) all in a bowl. The different textures and temperatures of each ingredient was a little too funky for us.
We finished our tasty tour of Indian food with dosa. Julianne and I agreed that this was on par with the samosas. Imagine a giant fried crepe that tastes like cornbread. Inside, a thin layer of green spiced potatoes and rice. Dip it into a flavorful vegetable broth. That’s dosa.
The chef informed us that it’s a traditional breakfast dish, and while I can’t imagine eating it before noon, I would definitely order it again. Two other tables ordered this dish as well, so I have a feeling it’s a favorite.
Many of the dishes are vegetarian-friendly and the cook was very accommodating at substituting ingredients for Julianne’s peanut allergy. I would definitely go back for the samosas and dosa, but I also wouldn’t hesitate to try another one of the cook’s suggestions.
If you like trying new things and/or you’re experiencing sinus issues, I would encourage you to give Bombay Chaat Corner a try. For four very filling dishes, our total cost for two people was less than $20. The environment is clean, food is made the moment you order it, and it’s not difficult to find something you like.
Bombay Chaat Corner is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. They are ADA accessible.
Bombay Chaat Corner (India Bazaar)
3810 Hacks Cross Road
Memphis, TN 38125
About the Author
Savannah is a recent graduate of The University of Memphis; she studied Creative Writing and Communications. Born and raised in Memphis, she embraces every part of the city – from the narrow right lane on Poplar, to the idiosyncratic individuals who drive down it. She hopes to travel the world, see an orca in the wild, read more books, and maybe write one, too.