A Sweet Taste of India

Shan Chaat House is located at 2072 San Pablo Ave. Open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (510) 883-0899.





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I've heard more than a few Berkeley students complain of the lack of

tasty, inexpensive Indian restaurants close to campus. Shan Chaat House on

University Avenue and San Pablo isn't any closer than the Indian

restaurants on Shattuck, but when you're big on appetite and low on cash,

this is the place to go.

The Shan Chaat House menu isn't extensive, but it isn't

expensive either. The menu is limited to Punjab and Gujrati dishes,

predominantly North Indian food. While many Indian restaurants specialize

in dishes from a particular region, this is one of the most general menus

I've seen. Again, though, what Shan Chaat House lacks for in range, it

makes up for in price.

My dining partner and I started with vegetable samosas ($2.50)

-crispy turnovers stuffed with potatoes and peas and served with cholay and

chutney - arguably my favorite appetizer of any international restaurant.

We then had masala dosa ($3.99), an excellent crepe made of

rice and lentil flour and stuffed with potatoes and spices. It was served

hot with several small bowls of sauces. We also ordered aloo tikki ($2.50),

grilled potato patties spiced with green chili and onions. I couldn't

believe how many different ways Shan Chaat House utilizes potatoes - they

were in everything from our appetizers to the last morsel of our main

dishes.

For the main course, we ordered matter paneer ($3.50), green

peas cooked with homemade cheese in a spicy gravy sauce. The matter paneer

would have been just fine if not for the homemade cheese, which looked old

and not very appetizing. A far better choice was the bengan gharta ($3.50),

fresh eggplant baked and cooked with tomatoes and peas. Also noteworthy was

the aloo gobhi ($3.50), a delicious blend of cauliflower and potatoes

cooked with spices. My companion reported that the tandoori chicken ($2.50)

- a full-leg piece served with salad and mint chutney - was flavorful and

well-roasted.

We devoured the main course with lots of oven-baked flat flour

bread called roti naan ($1) and small helpings of fresh basmati rice ($1).

The stuffed bread - especially the onion, green chili and cilantro - was

warm, fresh-tasting and mouth-watering.

One of the best things about Shan Chaat house was the

assortment of sauces. They ranged from rich to creamy in texture with a

very good blend of spices. The mint chutney - not a staple on a usual

Indian menu - was especially impressive.

While my companion and I washed the food down with the

conventional soft drink ($1), a more experimental connoisseur can try mango

lassi ($2), sweet lassi ($1.50) or chai ($1).

Indian restaurants aren't often known for their desserts, but

we ordered gulab jamun ($2), very sweet (and very hot) balls of flour and

syrup. Watch your tongue!

Chaat House's ambiance is casual and comfortable with

wall-to-wall mirroring and comfortably spaced wooden tables and chairs.

While most of the appetizers are served on cardboard, diner-style serving

dishes, it all has a homey feel to it.

On your way out, check out the foosball table where you can burn

about five of the five thousand calories you just voraciously consumed.

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