Tales of a wandering lesbian

Let’s Chaat

One of the great things about working in downtown Portland is the access to great, cheap food.  When I lived in DC for a semester, I fell in love with street vendors.  There, the kind of food I got from carts was “Chipwich” ice cream sandwiches and big, soft pretzels.  The kind of food I enjoy from Portland food carts is some of my favorite food ever.

Just around the corner from the office where I worked for three and a half years there is an Indian food cart – actually there are two.  It’s a long story, but basically, one cart operated for a number of years, and after a divorce, a second cart opened up in the stall next to the original one.  (It took a coworker and me about two months to figure out which one we were loyal to.)

There are three great things about eating at the Bombay Chaat House:

1.  Food:  The food is excellent.  It’s all vegetarian, and has vegan options.  Along with a complete menu, the cart features a 5-item lunch special that changes slightly every day.  You can follow the menu on their twitter feed, or on my sidebar.

My absolute favorite Indian dish is Navratan Koorma.  The Bombay Chaat House has it ALMOST EVERY DAY.  It’s amazing, with nuts and fruits and spices and creaminess.  I heart Navratan Koorma.  And their naan is amazing.  It’s soft and fresh and yummy.

For $5 you get naan, rice and three fabulous dishes, one of which is almost always a dal (lentil).  And you get free chai.  Not chai from a box, mind you, real chai.  Yum.  The food is far too much for most people to eat in one sitting.  For about a year I ate at the Bombay Chaat House.  I went every other work day, ate half, and put the other half in the fridge for the next day.  (Tip: if you put the naan on top of the food when you warm it up in the microwave and add a little water to the dish, it steams the naan.)

2.  Friends:  This is a great place to go with friends.  They have a little covered seating area, but I prefer to head one block over to the public corner of the garden at First Presbyterian Church on Morrison and 12th.  Hardly anyone uses it, so it’s quiet, and it has great seating.  (If the gate is closed, just reach around and push the lever to open it.)

3.  Family:  The folks who own the Bombay Chaat House are some of the warmest people you’ll meet.  I think food is a marvelous way to know people.  I love cooking for others, because it’s a way of sharing something personal to me.  I love food, and food made by people from their own recipes is special.

Every time I go to Bombay Chaat House, I feel like I’m going to someone’s house for a meal.  People waiting in line talk with each other about the food and about the people cooking it.  The owners recognize the people who frequent their cart and greet them like old friends.  When I became a fan of the cart on Facebook, one of the owners thanked me the next day.  He just recognized me and wanted to thank me for supporting them.

I’m really going to miss the Bombay Chaat House.  When I went last week for what might very well be the last time for a while.  I asked one of the owners for a picture.

Bombay Chaat House

He consented and then told me that he reads my blog.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him I won’t be around for a while.  I think I’m in denial.  Did I mention how good the navratan koorma is?

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