Chai Thali – Your Next Stop!

If you like off-the-beaten-track kinda places, you’ll love Chai Thali in Camden. It’s tucked away on the ground floor of warehouse a couple of blocks back from Camden Street and you’re very unlikely to stumble upon it, but it’s well worth the diversion.

Chai Thali - interior

It’s Indian street food but in huge portions, described as small plates on the menu, the lamb chops (Lamb Ki Chaampe £9) must have come from the largest sheep in the village – massive in size and overnight spicing.

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Lamb Ki Chaampe

The Samosa Chaat is a wet mess of beautiful flavours and crunchy pastry – a marvel they keep it so crisp.

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Samosas on a bed of chole with yoghurt, tamarind & mint chutney

The king prawns must have come from the same village – huge pink crescents with a clay oven charred outside and sweet and spicy flesh inside.

chai thali maharajah prawns

The chefs here really know what they are doing whether it’s slow cooking, tandoor ovens, big flavour daals and curries and delicate fried thin slices of okra – the Indian fritto misto.

As with everything these days it’s grazing plates but when it comes to mains you’ll want to keep the moist biryani to yourself. Still steaming under a pottery lid, glowing bright rice and pull-apart tender meats are a real street feast. 

The restaurant is clean and bright so it wasn’t quite as atmospheric as when we ate vegetable pulao out of a newspaper on a roof overlooking the Taj Mahal – but the tastes were there.

biryani chai thali

Cocktails are served in great glasses, the ‘Incredible India’ of rum, pineapple and coconut (£8.5) comes in a ceramic collapsing mug. Too many of these and the same fate might be yours.

Incredible India cocktail

Chai Thali is as if someone had brain-jacked a local Indian and captured all their memories of sights, sounds and tastes in that vast continent – and yet tidied and prettied them all up.

chai thali kettle

There’s a fancy private dining room decorated in a Bollywood meets Maharaja style – with with every surface covered in gold, and look closer at the framed artwork as it’s street graffiti.

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Colourful – Chai Thali Camden

Imagine jumping on a train in India, it’s colourful, shudders all over the place and has sights at every station. Sitting in a booth, with a signpost overhead and jumble in every direction, you can’t help but feel this place should be hopping in the evening, but it’s a shiny locomotive parked in a siding. But’s definitely a ride we’ll be taking again.

Chai Thali, Centro 3, 19 Mandela Street
Camden, London NW1 0DU

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Bookings: 020 7383 2030
Email: reservations@chaithali.com

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