On Tuesday night I had a rare meal with my cousin, his wife and her Caulfield-dwelling friend. It was a welcome opportunity to get on the train and revisit Gujju's Cafe & Chaat House. Michael and I were impressed with their all-you-can-eat thalis five years ago, and this time my companions were game for the other side of the menu, the chaat (snacks). We were overwhelmed by the dozens of dishes listed, and our waiter confidently suggested a selection that would best serve as an introduction.
Our first dish had a base of savoury legumes and a topping of crunchy noodles, onion, tomato and chutneys (I think it's called sev ussal, $8.50).
Next we assembled pani puri ($8.90), spooning the onion, mint flavoured water, and tamarind syrup into the thin, crisp puri pockets -the challenge was to devour them before the fillings dripped through a saturated puri base!
The spicy papdi chaat ($8.50) featured thick crunchy papdi chips tossed with more sev noodles, onion, tomatoes and chutney.
I believe our final dish was dahi vada ($8.50), where spiced yoghurt and chutney concealed thick, tasty lentil cakes.
Several dishes had a bit of a burn and I was glad to have a mango lassi to nurse me through it.
Gujju's chaat are a major departure from our usual Indian restaurant orders (only one or two of our Atithi dishes come close). This array of snack foods probably doesn't constitute a balanced meal - there's lots of fried and salty elements and sparse fresh vegetables, and I departed feeling heavy with yoghurt and garlic - but they're a lot of fun. Vegan and gluten-free options aren't clear, but our waiter was seemed to know his stuff and I reckon he could've pointed out diet-friendly dishes. Gujju's setting is very casual - the lighting is a little harsh but, sitting amongst local families on a weeknight, it was a comfortable spot for an unhurried catch-up.
You can read about our first visit to Gujju's here. Prasanna Gopalakrishnan rates it among the best Indian restaurants in Melbourne, and it also has a fan at G'day India.
Gujju's Cafe & Chaat House
1/141 Waverley Road, Malvern East
chaat $6.90-$9.90, thalis $18.90
Accessibility: Gujju's has one step up then around three steps down at it's entry. Tables are quite densely arranged. We ordered at our table and paid at a high counter. I didn't visit the toilets.