Earlier this year, when I was working on this piece on fenugreek with Chef, Navjot Arora, he had asked me to come and check out Chutney Masala. I had tried the place before and the visit was pleasant enough to stop by again. One of my biggest needs in an Indian restaurant is to savor food that is closer to home cooked food, rather than the rich overcooked food that some places offer. It is not always that I can wholeheartedly say that a place delivers on this, but Chutney Masala certainly does. It was nice to be able to catch up a little with the Chef, who makes a courteous and charming host. He is very proud of Punjabi heritage and I loved the reflection of this spirit in the food.
I started with a glass of pinot noir, which could have aired a little more, but once the wine was aired some it opened out and paired well with the meal. Down to the food, the pictures are from my I-phone and not the best, but the presentation too is clean and simple much like the flavors of the meal. On a different sidebar, the perfectionist and rather fair husband gets upset with all this photo mediocrity, and often says that I am not doing justice to the restaurant.
So to every one of my five readers (ha!) I assure you the food looks better than the pictures. Actually, down to the atmosphere, the lighting in the restaurant is rather dim, which while is nice and cozy for dining does not do well for pictures. The atmosphere in the restaurant is quaint with brick walls and black and white photography. The restaurant is near the water, but does not quite offer the views except in certain windows. The only time I am sorry that Anshul and I are not big eaters is at a place like this, because I would love to have tried both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian samplers but settled for the Shakahari platter, which brought a plate of the papri chat, the samosas, pakoras and the vegetarian kakabs. The chat and the kababs were ok, great on texture but just a little light on the crispness, the samosas were amazingly good! The servings were quite generous, in fact, one could almost make a meal of the platter. While they reccomend these samplers for two, I think that they would work well for 4.
We ordered the birayani with goat and the vegetarian sampler. The birayani was well done, with a nice dose of spice and the vegetarian thali came with one of the best dals (slow simmered lentils) that I have sampled. Their are many styles of Indian birayanis, in fact, most recently I have shared my own version of a chicken birayani. The restaurant’s steam cooked Birayani reflected the style of the south Indian region of Hyderabad, noted for its sealed pot (dum) cooking with a nice dose of spice. This birayani certainly lived up to its name.
They were thick, creamy and well spiced. The eggplant and the okra was well done too! The restaurant offers a compact but well made menu and the hallmark of the menu is its fresh tasting food. I would love to come back with the kids, but will need to scour the menu to see what would work for their milder palate.
I was debating on casata, an Indian style ice cream, but ended up with the ras malai, which was actually the courtesy of the Chef. Folks, this dessert was plain looking but really good. The message here really is, even if the dish looks a little plain, give it a try, chances are it shall be worth trying.
4 West Main Street
Irvington, NY 10533