The newest restaurant to open in downtown Decatur is Chai Pani, an Indian street food-focused spot that's come to Atlanta by way of Asheville. It's open in the old Watershed space Tuesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for lunch and 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner, with plans in the works to extend hours on the weekends. The restaurant serves chaat, or street snacks, like okra fries, samosas with spicy chickpea stew, and spicy potato patties served with chutneys, as well as salads, thalis, and Indian-inspired sandwiches and wraps. Below, husband-and-wife team Meherwan and Molly Irani share ten things worth knowing about the concept.
1. Meherwan and Molly were born on the same day, same year on opposite sides of the world.
2. Chef Meherwan's mother spent three months training Chai Pani's original kitchen crew to cook food the traditional, at-home way.
3. Chef de Cuisine Daniel Peach, though born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, now speaks, writes, and reads Hindi fluently and spent six months traveling in India and training with various chefs and in home kitchens to learn first-hand how to cook authentic Indian food.
4. Ten members have of Chai Pani's management team have spent time in India.
5. Chai Pani's menu consists of Indian street food favorites as well as the dishes cooked in homes throughout India.
6. "Mindblasting" is Chai Pani's internal motto for, well, mindblasting customer service.
7. The restaurant's garam masala recipe was passed down from Meherwan's great-grandmother and remains unchanged.
8. Michael Files, Chai Pani's Brand Director, spent a year living off street food while working in an art gallery in Mumbai. Chai Pani's concept and brand are the masala of his time there.
9. Chai Pani means a small drink or snack and is slang for a small bribe in India. It literally translates as tea and water.
10. Chai Pani veteran and prep chef Gustavo holds the record for hand-julienning a full case of okra in 14 minutes.