Anjappar – Chettinad Cuisine in New York

 Anjappar, a new kid on the block replaced a long standing french restaurant. It was bound to happen, I guess. One of the problems with an ethnic neighborhood is that it often crowds out other cuisines other than those of the ethnic community. Most people frequent this India row in Manhattan for Indian food, leaving the rest of the restaurants wanting patrons.

There is enough diversity in just the Indian culinary styles, to satisfy the patrons, there is Indian vegetarian fare and then the more mainstream. Fast food and conventional sit down joints all showcasing the many moods of Indian cuisine. So, it might seem surprising to have yet another newcomer on this street. Well, with Indian cuisine there is always room for diversity.

 Anjapaar bring the Chettinad cuisine from the South of India. Chettinad cuisine is the cuisine of the chettiyar community of the Tamil Nadu region of India. As with all other communities the culinary style is distinct. The cuisine is charterized with a fondness for meat and robust spices. I was not sure how the restaurant would fare in this department. Well, getting in the decor is vivid and brings to you a strong sense of character with colors of bright red and black. The furniture is made of heavy dark polished wood.

For a lover of Indian regional cuisine, I am always thrilled to see more character and authenticity in Indian cuisine. I also, have learnt to temper my expectations since sometimes the authenticity is not all that. This however, was not the case. Two visits and I am left craving for more. Their lunchtime options include set meals from different parts of the regional.  On day one, I tried their non-veg options, this came with a fried and spiced chicken, a vegetarian curry and a spicy, creamy meat curry that came with layered paratha bread that is a speciality of the south and a mild flavored rice pilaf. Every bite was flavorful and the spices were fresh and full of flavor. Their menu was innovative and even had South Indian breakfast options, not just the tiffin choices, flavorful Indianized eggs.

Day Two, I ordered off the menu, this time I tried their biryani. I am addicted to good biryani, in fact, I can eat on all kinds of them. This was well seasoned redolent with a light touch of coconut and a touch of curry leaves. The rice grains were moist and well cooked but separate and the goat meat was nice and tender. Well seasoned perfection on a plate.

In a nod to some of the more classic dishes, they had the chicken tikka (yes, there is no getting away from that one on an Indian restaurant menu). My friend ordered a chicken karai, which had a nice and deep flavored tomato sauce and chunky peppers. A better rendition of a restaurant staple. Nice and fluffy parathas and a well seasoned raita completed the meal.

Our neighbours had ordered an interesting assortment of fried idlies, that shall bring me back the next time round.


 116 Lexington Ave

 New York, New York 10016

 Anjappar Chettinadu on Urbanspoon

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