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You can think of it as a little bit of Mumbai in Suva.

The Bollywood Cafe on level four in TappooCity is the latest addition to its international food court.

Bollywood Cafe is one of the few outlets in Suva that caters for vegetarians.

This newly-opened cafe specialises in full-fledged thali offerings. A thali is a selection of different dishes, usually served in small metal bowls on a round tray.

Remal Tappoo, an executive director of TappooCity, said Bollywood Cafe was intended to fill a gap in the market.

While other vegetarian outlets offered some sort of thali, this is Fiji’s first specialised vegetarian thali & chaat place, offering such a wide variety of choices, much like you would find in bustling Mumbai.

“We have a very experienced chef from India who painstakingly prepares all the meals and snacks that make up the thali,” says Mr Tappoo.

“It takes a lot of skill and the right ingredients to make these dishes.”

As its name suggests, adorning one wall are black and white portraits of various Bollywood stars and you will certainly not miss the joint with its bright yellow and red colour scheme.

“I think the cafe presents an interesting visual appeal and stands out from the rest of the restaurants in the food court,” says Mr Tappoo.

Thali dishes are hailed as a trademark of Mumbai and elsewhere in India.

Martin Hughes, writing in the UK Independent, described thali as “the ubiquitous Indian lunch, and every traveller’s dream”.

And indeed that is the experience TappooCity is trying to give locals and tourists alike all the flavours and textures of Bollywood but a world away from the daunting streets of Mumbai, on the fourth floor of TappooCity which also houses Tappoo’s flagship store.

There are three thali on Bollywood Cafe’s menu – Raja Thali (fit for the Charming Prince) at $7.95; Maharani Thali (for the Beautiful Queen) at $9.95; and Maharaja Thali (“fit for a King) at $11.95.

The so-called “smaller” thali has a starter with curries, a choice of roti or puri, rice or kichdi, dhal or kadhi, salad, papadums, chutnies – the works. A whole meal and a half for only $7.95. The medium and large size thali get progressively bigger.

Bollywood Cafe has an evening special from 4pm daily ($6.95) and a Sunday special ($7.95).

Also popular are the different types of Chaat on offer. Chaat describes various savoury snacks typically sold at roadside stalls or carts in India. Priced at only $4.95, Bollywood Cafe offers six types of chaat including bhel puri (puffed rice garnished with potato and chutney), ragda patties (potato patties in soupy blue peas curry garnished with chutney) and dahi kachori ( spicy stuffed puri with yogurt and chutney).

Bollywood Cafe claims to be an authentic Indian vegetarian eating experience and you can check it out for yourself to prove this point. If you weren’t looking out from above the streets of Suva in the cool setting of TappooCity’s fourth floor, you’d probably think you are a world away in Mumbai.

Fiji Times
Date: January 16th 2012

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