Today I love: Naasto Baasto
What: Naasto Baasto is a Gujarati Street Food Pop Up business that is run by Monica Patel. She creates food that is inspired by her Gujarati grandparents. Naasto means Snack and Baasto is a rhyming nonsense word, which also has its routes in fond family memories.
Monica’s menu is constantly evolving, but largely takes the form of small plate snacks, that are lovingly spiced, hand formed and then paired with incredible home made chutneys.
Why: The difference between food and good food is simple, it is love.
Does the person that thought of the menu, sourced the ingredients and then worked hard to put it on your plate CARE?
If they do then you can genuinely taste it with every mouthful. Naasto Baasto is the perfect illustration of this. Monica cares about her food, you can see it in her eyes as she cooks and you can taste it when you put your fork to your mouth for every glorious flavour exploding mouthful.
My last chance to eat her food was at the unusual venue of the Bean Tree Cafe in Page Park and it was in the context of Chai Naasto Pani, an eight course tasting menu. The highlights of this menu were four fold for me (If that is even a thing) –
Firstly, the Okra Fries, which were crispy, warmingly spiced, moreish and incredibly comforting. I would have happily sat for a night eating these whilst drinking beer and slowly gaining weight.
Next on my hitlist, the Khaman Dohkla. These are fluffy clouds of gram flour, which are sweet, savoury and glorious. Think the fantastic love child of cornbread and a cheeky victoria sponge, covered in toasty spices and you won’t go far wrong.
Later, the Pav Bhaji, which was a gloriously hot, spicy and flavourful vegetable curry served on a bed of fried bread (I accidently ate one slice before the curry was served and had to ask for a replacement).
Lastly, the Vada Pav, which was an amazing deep fried mashed potato fritter, served in a chutney laden bread cake, with a fresh, fruity mango salad. By this point in the evening, most people were having to take food home, due to the over generosity of Monica’s portions, but I bravely soldiered on and was really glad that I did, as this dish was a fantastically stodgy flavourfest.
How Much: The tasting menu was £25 a ticket, but normally between £5-8 buys you a dish of food from a Naasto Baasto pop up menu.
More Info: Monica’s favourite medium is Instagram, so give her a follow on there – https://www.instagram.com/naasto_baasto