Please note that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!
Last Friday, I was invited at Chawlas2, a charming Indian restaurant located in Gramercy. Taking its name from its founder, this chain that counts more than a 100 locations in India started in Uttar Pradesh, a state in India, more than 50 years ago, when late S. Attar Singh Chawla decided to improve a dish called "Kali Mirch Ka Chicken" or cream chicken, that they described as:
"A tender broiler is cut into bite-size pieces which are then cooked in a combination of milk and cream with a sprinkling of onions and “Methi” leaves on a slow fire till it is half done. Then, pepper which is the main spice, other spices and herbs are added to it to give it just the right taste.
The preparations is totally of milk products. No water, red chillies and any type of ghee or oil is used. The total cooking time is about 12 to 15 minutes. Though the dish is not on the spicy side, more pepper can be added for those who want it more spicier and for those who find this bland, green chillies are added to make it really “Kahara".
They first opened a restaurant in Ozone Park and, the one on Gramercy opened very recently but seemed to have attracted already lots of customers considering how busy this place was when we were there.
I got the opportunity to visit the kitchen where I could see the meat being cooked in their tandoor oven and I can tell you that whatever they cook there is fantastic, keeping for instance the chicken or fish very moist.
Looking at their menu, they have a wide variety of dishes, from vegetarian to non-vegetarian, mainly from North India, with of course some classic like butter chicken or chicken Tikka Masala that is quite close, invented outside of India and one of the most ordered / known Indian dishes. Although we were there for dinner, we got to eat from their tasting menu that replaces the classic buffet a lot of restaurants offer. Why not doing like others and propose a buffet? Because every dish is prepared a la minute, keeping the food fresh and the meat and fish not dry. For less than $24 (less than $13 for lunch with a bit less choices), this tasting is surely a good deal, combining 7 dishes, from appetizer, entree, bread and dessert . Here is what we had:
First, they brought us some papadam with three dipping sauces and chutney: mint chutney ( a bit spicy), tamarind sauce and mango chutney (deliciously sweet).
With it, I decided to try their mango lassi that was pretty good, thick and tasty, perfect to counteract any flavor that was too spicy, although I admit that all the dishes had the right amount of spiciness, the Chef not being too heavy handed on the chili.
Vegetable samosa (big, crispy and not spicy, perfect with some tamarind sauce or chutney):
Paneer Tikka and Paneer Achari Tikka: I admit that I do not recall which one was which. Anyway, this was very good, the paneer being homemade and not rubbery like some that you can get sometimes.
Chicken Tikka and Irani Fish: both were amazing! Cooked in the tandoor oven, they were perfectly cooked and moist. The fish was also delightfully flakey.
Chilly chicken: fantastic! It had the right amount of spices and I really appreciated the fact that it was not burning my mouth...
Jodi got its vegetarian counterpart, the chilly paneer that was as delicious.
Then we got our main course that was a choice of two dishes with a side. They were presented in a large plate, each dish sitting in a small bowl.
Jodi decided to order the cream paneer (instead of chicken), as well as the mix vegetable korma and some basmati rice.
On my side, I got the cream chicken, butter chicken (my favorite Indian dish) and dal makhni (another favorite that I also tried to cook at home...).
All of these dishes were delicious. The cream chicken was quite interesting to try as it was the first time I saw it on a menu or maybe I never noticed it. It is a dish that is not as heavy and rich as others (like butter chicken for instance) and was quite good, but I admit that my preference was for the butter chicken, preferring dishes packed in spices and richer. In both dishes, the chicken was perfectly cooked, not dry and had a nice char. My other favorite was the dal that was a bit thick, like I like.
With these dishes, we got some butter naan as well as some roti cooked in the tandoor over.
Last was desserts and they had some of my favorites:
Kheer that is rice pudding:
Gulab Jamun (deep fried milk balls dipped in a sweet syrup):
We had a great dinner at Chawlas2 and left full. I would definitely go back there, their food being delicious. The tasting instead of a buffet is a very good idea and the price a good deal. I should also mention the nice casual atmosphere of the place that makes dining there an enjoyable moment.
Enjoy (I did)!
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