Hidden Gem: Irresistible street food

Hidden gemImage Credit: Courtesy of Tapri

Pronounced Taa-p-ree (t pronounced in the French style) that translates into a roadside tea stall most expats from Mumbai will relate to, this cute little café-cum-restaurant is located in Dubai Silicon Oasis. What makes Tapri special is its unique menu and the simple but quirky interior, perfect for a hanging out with friends.

From the steaming Cutting chai (made popular by residents of Mumbai) and popular bun maskas (buttered bread) to flavoured sodas and freshly made crispy fritters or bhajiyas, this place caters to a very Indian palate but is frequented by other communities as well.

Anesha Mulla, a certified dietician and one of the brains behind Tapri, attributes this to a flavourful menu that uses Indian spices but isn’t spicy and greasy, two words often associated with Indian food.

The other bestselling items from the menu are butter biryani and butter chicken. Considering that the menu is a reflection of Mumbai street food, was the butter chicken (a popular north Indian dish) more of a fashionable inclusion? “Yes, [that’s] true,” says Mulla. “But I also felt that not many places made good authentic butter chicken. They all taste sweet but that buttery element is missing in most.

“The butter biryani is again my own creation. My children love it and I thought of putting that on the menu. Everything that you get in Tapri is fresh and wholesome — no frozen or precooked ingredients. I wouldn’t think twice about serving this food to my own children.”

As I enjoyed the Cutting Chai along with bhajiyas, I ordered a bun maska with an omelette. The buns at Tapri were initially flown in from Mumbai and Pune but now Mulla has a supplier who can produce them here in Dubai.

One word that runs throughout the restaurant is passion. “There are many good Indian restaurants but not a single Indian café — a version of say, a Starbucks, where people from the office-going crowd to younger generation hang out,” says Mulla. The neighbourhood crowd also come here and the demand for home delivery now comes all the way from Jumeirah. A Mumbai menu without any overflow of Bollywood drama is unthinkable. So here’s the story behind the family that owns this place: two sisters married to two brothers and all of them living together. While Anesha makes sure that the food is not oily or greasy and the staff is trained under her, her sister looks after the bakery section.

In the style of Iranian cafés, you will find delicious cream rolls, custards, and Shrewsbury biscuits here. All baked goods are homemade and can make unique gift items as well.

Source: Ishita B. Saha, Special to Property Weekly

This section features lesser-known places and events that are delightfully distinct in their own way. It could be a quaint little café or simply a charming lake. If it’s got character and brings a smile to your face, it’s a hidden gem that will find a place on this page. If you know of a hidden gem, email the Editor at enag@gulfnews.com.

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