Leading up to this year's Best of L.A. issue (due out Oct. 4) — and probably beyond, at this rate — we'll be counting down, in no particular order, 100 of our favorite dishes.
38: Papri Chaat at Jay Bharat.
As sort of shameful as it is to admit, I drove to all the way Cerritos this weekend just to pick up a pre-ordered iPhone (it was the closest store that had them it in stock). Despite a two-hour wait in line surrounded by other exasperated Apple addicts, there was one redeeming factor (in my food-minded estimation) in driving fifty-plus miles on Carmageddon weekend: a stopover along Pioneer Blvd. in Artesia, colloquially known as Little India.
Along with the multi-colored sari merchants, Bollywood record stores and incense shops is the must-visit Gujarati restaurant Jay Bharat, which specializes in little snack called chaat , bought in bulk or a la carte, and oversized vegetarian thali platters. The papri chaat, upon first inspection, resembles the Indian love-child of, say, Cincinnati five-way chili and Mexican seven-layer dip.
In large shallow bowl: boiled potatoes, chana masala (a fiery chickpea curry), cool yogurt, tamarind and mint chutney, chopped cilantro and tiny spicy fried gram flour sticks. If you wanted to assemble a CliffsNotes version of the best flavors found in South Indian cooking, this might be it. Lashes of black pepper, hints of cardamom and a heavy exotic spiciness that lingers like a long summer. On certain weekends, Jay Bharat sports a good-size line of customers — not iPhone big, mind you — but, believe me, everyone leaves much more satisfied.
Check out the rest of our 100 of our favorite dishes. Suggestion? Write us a comment.
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