Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Shan Restaurant: Roadside Indian in Chicago

Shan Restaurant: (Uptown) Chicago
5060 Nhttp://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif. Sheridan Rd.
(773) 769-4961

Shan Foods w Taxi Cabs.jpg

Satya and Oakley at Shan Foods_4.JPG

Shan Restaurant.jpg

Satya and Oakley at Shan Foods.jpg
Satya and Oakley above the spongy injera sour bread you scoop an Ethiopian meal with at the bottom of the shelf (above).

Gram Masala with onions and cilantro for $1.50 frm Shan Restaurant.jpg

Apples, Grapes, Bananas and Chili for $1 from Shan Restaurant.jpg
Take-aways from a previous trip: Gram masala (second from bottom) with onions and cilantro for $1.50; apples, grapes, bananas and chili for $1 (bottom).

My friends tell me that in India, dhaba (Punjabi) refers to a roadside restaurant that serves tasty authentic food suitable for someone who drives for a living. In Chicago, dhabas are pretty much the same, and Shan Restaurant certainly fits the description from the moment you walk in past a lot full of taxi cabs.

The last few times Satya brought me here, I remember feeling, as I sat in the cafeteria-style dining room, that the other diners knew each other and the restaurant crew. This time Satya, Oakley and I were told we could sit in a new dining room. It's a bit nicer as cafeteria seating goes, but it was much emptier, and didn't invoke, like the other room does, the feel of - for an instant - being a part a street cabbie food culture that I'm obviously not really part of. Ironically, in a place where the surroundings made me feel perhaps as far away from American politics as I could in Chicago, President Bush's State of The Union address was tuned in on the TV in this room and the real dining room.

We ate well, using roti we ripped into pieces to pick up very authentic (Satya, who grew up in Bombay, told me) chana masala (chickpeas, ginger, garlic and onions), aaloo mutter gajar (potatoes, green peas and carrots) and bhindi masala (okra). Pickled pepper kicked it up a bit. Satya told me how Shan's is a favorite for post-cricket game traditional Pakistani breakfasts of halwa puri (sweet semolina and puffed fried bread (recipe)).

As we left, we walked through the attached grocery aisles stocked with spice mixes, the spongy injera sour bread you scoop an Ethiopian meal with, and Red Label black tea labeled in Arabic and English. I picked up plenty of cookies and bags of chaat (savory snacks served roadside in India) for my hard working colleagues: cumin, pistachio and cashew cookies and bags of channadal (fried and salted spit chickpeas with red chili powder and paprika), chevdo (a crunchy fried mix of salted rice flakes, moong beans, split chickpeas, peanuts, cashews and raisins with red chili powder and a bit of sugar, turmeric and fennel, mustard and coriander seeds), and dal mooth (a mix of fried and salted lentils, chickpea flour sticks and masur beans with red chili powder, paprika turmeric and black salt).

I can't wait to taste Street Food in India.

Photos: Christopher Brunn


Anonymous rrk said...

Shan is a very popular spices brand of Pakistan, it isnt of india. it is there since 1981 http://www.shanfoods.com/

11:54 AM  

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