The last time I visited the Gateway to India was in Mumbai; it was a little different there. Perched on benches we ate cheap and tasty food, and watched men wearing little clothing pass by with bedazzled cows, whereas here, just off Broad Street…Okay, I take it back. Thinking about it, Mumbai really isn’t that different to Broad Street at all; give or take a few pitchers of Sex on the Beach, a visit to either will guarantee colourful characters, a riot of noise and hordes of taxis.
Gateway to India, then, is a fairly apt name for this newcomer. Could this possibly be the inspiration behind the name? We may never know.*
What I do know is that Gateway to India are serving up some seriously impressive street food, with a menu inspired by favourites from Mumbai and beyond. And when I say seriously impressive, I mean dishes that are up there with the best in the city. Look beyond the traditional interior and you’ll discover a menu more akin to the Zindiyas and Indian Streaterys of the city than your standard curry house.
I was there a couple of weeks back and I’ve been thinking non-stop about some of the dishes I ate. Chole Bhature is everything that I love about Indian street food; take one puffed up piece of fried bread, tear, and fill with a chickpea curry that has the right balance of zing and heat. It’s that visceral, hands-on type of eating that I love, a far cry from the well mannered world of cutlery that we survive in. It’s the same with pani puri. Delightfully light, crisp, puffs are drizzled with tamarind and a punchy mint and coriander sauce. Fill them and then pop in the gob in one piece to release a world of goodness.
My Northern tendency to put anything and everything between buttered bread is satisfied by the Pav Bhaji; a vegetable curry accompanied by a buttered bun to spread or dunk as you choose. It’s bloody brilliant. Aloo Tikki are deep fried mashed potato patties, a concept that could easily have originated from Glasgow (the home of haggis pakora). These are delicious, fragrant with spice and served with the same chickpea curry that formed the Chole Bhature. It’s at this point I should tell you I am madly in love with the vivid green mint and coriander sauce; I would gladly elope with it had it not been frowned upon to do so with a liquid.
And there’s more – I’ve saved my favourite dishes for last. Bhel Puri is an addictive combination of crispy rice and noodles, dusted with spices and finished with onion, tamarind and yogurt. Samosa chaat is the best rendering of the dish I’ve tried to date; a pungent and warming mixture of that chickpea curry and torn samosa that demands your immediate attention. Best of all is the dosa, a wrapping paper-esque tube filled with the most addictive potato spiced with mustard seed and cumin. It is this that I have been dreaming of recently, all seventeen foot (a possible exaggeration) of it with the loose vegetable curry and tomato chutney. At just a fiver for the vegetarian one it is the obvious lunch of choice, even when your work is twenty minutes walk away like mine is. Trust me, it’s worth it.
We tried other dishes – curries, grills and a brilliant lobster dish – but it is the above street food menu that for me really stands out. With ever more Indian streetfood joints popping up in Birmingham, I can truly say that this is one deserving of your time.
*It’s true, we may never know, but I’m 99.99% sure this is not the case.
Disclaimer: Thank you to Anita at Delicious PR for the invite. The meal was complimentary, my opinions are honest as always (ask my boyfriend – I haven’t shut up about the dosa since!).