"Dahi papri chaat is my favorite item on the menu and has been since the beginning," says Bollywood Theater chef and owner Troy MacLarty, standing in his SE Division kitchen. "It's a super traditional Indian dish, but not many Americans have tried it. And it's a good example of us doing things the hardest way possible to make a $6.50 plate of food."
Dahi papri chaat perfectly captures Bollywood Theater's style of Indian food, which often features traditional dishes given a twist with local ingredients and other nuances that reflect MacLarty's cooking background.
To make it, Bollywood Theater creates its own crackers (papri means "cracker"), fries its own sev (a sort of crunchy noodle made with chickpea dough), prepares two chutneys in-house (green chutney and tamarind date chutney), and drains Southern Oregon yogurt overnight to remove "harsh" whey flavors. As the photos above show, creating the dish involves a hundred other little steps, too.
"It really isn't a good idea to base your menu on a country that has over a billion people to work," jokes MacLarty. He says it's also difficult to find authentic Indian ingredients in the United States. "The ingredients here are just different. You can cut nutmeg and cinnamon with scissors in India," he says.
The regionality of Indian food is what originally attracted MacLarty to it, and he says it reminds him of Italian food, which also changes from region to region and is an integral part of his cooking background. Taste it for yourself at either the NE Alberta or SE Division locations. (And a little-known fact for you trivia nerds: The venue now home to Bollywood Theater Division was the 2007 Obama election campaign's Portland HQ).