Thanks to the Summer of Love and the Hippie movement which established its roots on West 4th Avenue during the 60’s, Vancouver is the home of Meatless Mondays, Greenpeace, single-origin coffee, cruelty-free products and community gardens. For most of us ex-pats, however, those words mean little. Especially when you have just moved here and all you want on a rainy day is garam chai and pakora. Enter Chai Wagon – A cool, hipster version of your local chai tapri that caters to the authentic Indian tastebuds. The brainchild of Shivam Jaiswal from Haryana, Chai Wagon, was born out of the dismay that struck the entire South Asian subcontinent when Starbucks introduced Chai-Teas or Chai-Lattes. Head over to the Chai Wagon cart on Commercial and Broadway station or at the Indian Market in Frazer Street for some authentic adrak chai, elaichi chai, 7 spice or masala chai and yes, even vegan chai. While Chai Wagon does not serve pakoras, it does have some hearty aloo-paneer sandwiches, mixed fruit cake & even Gujiya for that something sweet to go with your piping hot chai!
However, if it is pakoras is what you crave, then look no further than Kalai’s Curry Kitchen for that street food experience of ordering up Pakoras, Samosas, Bhelpuri, Pav-Bhaji, Chat Papdi or Aloo Tikki on the roadside. Located either at Commercial & Broadway or just off Davie Street & Thurlow, Kalai’s Curry Kitchen also serves heartier fare such as Biryani, Shahi Paneer, Chicken curry, Naan and Rasmalai, gajar ka halwa and Mango Lassi for your sweet tooth. Having personally sampled the Pav-Bhaji and Bhelpuri, I have to say, it gives you the Bambaiyaan feels in the middle of Canada.
The Holi Masala Food truck at 8273 Ross Street, Vancouver, seems to thrive on eclectic fusions. Not only does it have Vada Pavs and Fish Pakoras for that monsoon magic feel, it also does Vada Pav Tacos, Fish Pakora Tacos, something called a Samosa Explosion and Masala Fries with Mango Chutney to get your tastebuds tingling! Holi Masala commissary is also the place to get some Kheema pav, Kathi rolls and of course, the ubiquitous Masala Chai.
While the beaches around Vancouver have several hot dogs, ice-cream and soda carts, one cannot wait for the ultimate globalized experience of having chai, samosas and pakoras on the beach while witnessing one of British Columbia’s gorgeous sunsets!