Chowpatti Serves Up Tasty Vegetarian Fare in Chicagoland
For almost 30 years, one of the best completely vegetarian restaurants in the Greater Chicagoland area has been hiding in a suburban strip mall. Chowpatti, 1035 S. Arlington Heights Road in Arlington Heights, Illinois, is named after a beach filled with food vendors in Bombay, India, where founder Anil Kapadia, now deceased, and his wife, Niru, spent a lot of time while dating.
According to Niyanta Kapadia, Anil and Niru’s daughter, who is co-owner along with her sister, Sneha, the restaurant is known for its Indian food. However, Chowpatti boasts a 26-page menu that also features American, Mexican, and Italian food.
I decided to try one of the personal-sized, vegetarian pizzas. There are a lot of unique toppings to choose from: apple, broccoli, beet, cauliflower, eggplant, pineapple, zucchini, and more. I was especially intrigued by the apple topping, because I’ve never seen it offered anywhere else. I tried it and was pleasantly surprised to find that apple and cheese make a mouth-watering combination that I would come back for again.
I also tried some classic Indian cuisine: samosa and aloo wada. According to the menu descriptions, samosa is a tasty, fried, triangle crust filled with mildly seasoned potatoes and green peas. Aloo wada is a delicious, fried, round, spiced, potato dumpling dipped in gluten-free, chick pea batter. These are served with tamarind chutney, which is a flavor-packed sauce. Both the aloo wada and samosa were good in a simple, uncomplicated way. Dipping them in the tangy tamarind chutney made the dish even better.
I recommend both dishes — and strongly recommend this restaurant. The food is delicious, the prices are reasonable, and the service is great. The menu is packed with Indian food, which might be overwhelming for anyone who isn’t familiar with the cuisine. There are clear, written descriptions, but our server was gracious and could answer any question about each menu item in impeccable detail.
I spoke with Niyanta Kapadia about the most popular dishes at the Chowpatti. She said that most people select the Indian food, even if they aren’t familiar with the cuisine.
“They see we’re Indian, go for it, and are happy about it,” Kapadia said.
According to Kapadia, the best-seller is the special sev batata puri with dahi — for non Indians, more easily nicknamed “loaded Indian nachos.” The Bombay sev batata puri is topped with whipped yogurt and chopped cucumber and tomatoes. A puri is similar to whole wheat chips.
Kapadia said the gourmet salad is also a best-seller. According to the menu, the salads are made of Bombay bhel, which is a mixture of crispy puffed rice; along with sev, which are crunchy chick-pea noodles; and bits of puri. The mixture is crunchy and is combined with diced potatoes, onions, and cilantro. It’s accompanied by a mixture of three chutneys: spicy garlic, spicy golden, and sweet date.
About 80 percent of the menu is completely vegan. Many items on the menu are also gluten free, and certain items can be made to be gluten free or wheat free, if they are not already. To accommodate those sensitive to spicy foods, the spicier dishes can be modified to be milder. The menu is extremely healthy: Minimal oil is used and the dishes are low fat, low calorie, low sodium, low cholesterol, high fiber, protein rich, and natural.
Besides serving food that is as close as possible to the peak of purity, the owners of the restaurant are also environmentally conscious. They have installed a state-of-the-art air and water filtration system to improve the restaurant’s environment, as well as a chemical-free dishwasher.
I was so impressed by this restaurant and will definitely be dining there again next time I am in the Chicagoland area. I recommend it to anyone — vegetarian or not — who finds themself near Arlington Heights.
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