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Review: Bwyta Bwyd Bombai, Cardiff

Proper cuppa chai

Proper cuppa chai

Some twelve years ago we went on holiday to India, and the most abiding memory that I came away with was the pleasure of a nice cup of chai. A cup of chai while choosing spices in Jodhpur market. A cup of chai while haggling over hand-bound books in Udaipur. A cup of chai after dinner in a royal palace in Bikaner. A cup of chai in our transit hotel in Delhi after a fraught day of culture shock.

So of course, it’s something I have always sought out back in the UK. Good chai is strong darjeeling tea with plenty of spices added, particularly cardamon, and the sheer strength is tempered with plenty of milk that has crucially been cooked along with the tea, and plenty of sugar. It is nigh impossible to find here. Even my beloved Chilli Pickle does a barely adequate chai, if I’m being really honest.

The chai at 3B’s (the abbreviated name of Bwyts Bwyd Bombai) flung me straight across twelve years and a few thousand miles back to a non-descript hotel in Delhi and a hot little cup of heaven.

Samosa and gravy

Samosa and gravy

And it doesn’t stop there. We had a plate of Dahi Puri, and although at first I thought they’d drowned the crisp little shells in yogurt, the sweet/sour taste of the chutneys mixed with the chickpea filling came warmly through. Next up was a samosa broken open and doused with chickpeas in a hot masala gravy, apparently a classic Bombay street dish (shouldn’t we be saying Mumbai these days?). The masala gravy was divinely deep and warm-hearted, a cheap-and-cheerful match to the exquisite gravy I had with grouse at the Painted Heron a while back. Another street classic was the Batata Vada, a potato cake that was crisp on the outside and silky-soft within. It was served with a powerfully roast-garlic flavoured powder and some astonishing chillies, frankly too powerful for anymore more than a nibble. For me, anyway. 3B’s never compromise authenticity, it seems. I could tell that the bright and fragrant mango lassi was made with the real fruit – it’s the huge noseful of fragrance that you get before even sipping it that gives it away.

At £20 for two people to eat and drink enough for a good lunch, 3B’s is irresistible value. The decor and furnishing is very rough and ready which, y’know, basically just reinforces the honest authenticity of it. The chef here has clearly lived and loved a life with Bombay street food, knows how to cook it, and isn’t going to muck about with compromises for a “British palate”. Good on ’em.

Dahi puri

Dahi puri

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  1. Salty plums : Rest of UK, Restaurant Reviews : Review: Mowgli, Birmingham

    […] The rice and breads are fine. The rose and cardamon lassi is good enough, though the cardamon flavour is very hard to detect. The dining room is beautiful, modern, fun, and has people queuing up to get in. It’s a nice place for a bite to eat with friends. If you are an aficionado of great Indian cooking, it’s not for you. Check out 3Bs in Cardiff! […]

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