Cha Walah makes those addas great again
“Tea time is a chance to slow down, pull back and appreciate our surroundings.” - Letitia Baldrige
For us Dhakaites, 'cha' is more than just a cup of tea to start the day – the thick sweet drink is an intrinsic part of the rhythm of life. Bengalis are known for their love for long conversations and this is complemented by their love for tea. What was first considered to be a drink with therapeutic properties is enjoyed as an energizing and unwinding refreshment all over the world today.
The practice of friends sipping tea and exchanging stories has become quite popular nowadays. And Cha Walah offers exactly that - a go-to station for cha and chill. Located at the heart of Dhanmondi, Cha Walah sits on the rooftop of Yellow, serving the most-loved traditional street delicacies – starting from fuchka and chotpoti to the most loved 'tong er cha'.
The atmosphere is quite laid back, and seems to be an ideal option when it comes to accommodating small to medium groups. With its open terrace and great view, this café has certainly turned into one of the favourite hangout spots among youngsters in town today. As you walk in, you are struck by how beautiful the place is. The décor will certainly remind one of a narrow paved street in Old Dhaka – so narrow that it clearly was never meant for cars. Parked at a random corner, you can spot the archaic yellow “baby taxi” or you may also choose to sit on one of the benches and sip on some hot tea served in earthen cups. As a true Bengali would tell you the flavour of tea is accentuated by these earthen cups.
The menu has a selection of flavoured teas – masala, Ovaltine, chocolate, morich, malta, tetul and elachi and many more, while the food menu is comprised of daal makhni, mutton biriyani, aloo matar paneer, chicken reshmi kabab, butter naan and so on. When we were served, we were absolutely delighted by the arrangement! Our tea came in small earthen cups, and the food was served in dishes made of clay. The service was excellent, as the staff was quick and friendly. They were close enough to call when needed but they never hovered uncomfortably as we ate.
The true highlight of course, was the food. We were served chicken Afghani – succulent chicken kababs marinated in a tangy Middle Eastern-style blend of Greek yogurt, lemon, garlic and spices, then grilled on skewers until golden brown and tandoori chicken – which consists of roasted chicken prepared with yogurt and spices, along with some soft and delicious butter naan. The chicken was soft and moist with the taste of smoke infused in it – in fact, every morsel was satisfying and we ate in silence, our taste buds rejoicing at every bite!
Then came the delicious dahi fuchkas – the round, hard, puffy fuchka shells were stuffed with mashed potatoes and chickpeas, along with sweet tamarind chutney and spicy green chutney. Sweetened yoghurt was generously poured over the fuchkas, making the dish quite irresistible!
Finally, we had the royal badam milk – the drink was quite refreshing, thickened with almond paste and flavoured with saffron. With its creamy texture, the badam milk was undoubtedly the best among everything we had there, and the addition of sliced almonds on top gave it the perfect crunch.
A steaming cup of 'cha' at Cha Walah is something you definitely shouldn't miss. With the afternoon light pouring in and the general quiet atmosphere of the restaurant, it is the perfect setting to get together and enjoy a quick bite while catching up with friends. After all, good food and good company make time well spent.