By Shana Liebman–
Irvington’s Chutney Masala, one of Westchester’s top Indian restaurants, just launched a new Indian street food menu that features delicious and authentically informal dishes like chaat and kati rolls.
Starting December 1, the street food menu, which started in late November as a lunch-only option, will also be offered for dinner (takeout only) in addition to the regular menu.
Chef and owner Navjot Arora says he wanted to introduce local diners to Indian food beyond well-known staples like chicken tikka and saag paneer. Street food, which he grew up with and often prepares for Chutney Masala’s catering clients, is primarily comfort food. Dishes like pao bhaaji (buttered soft rolls with veggies) and tikki cholley chaat (potato patties with curried chickpeas and tangy chutney) will not only add a new dimension to the Chutney Masala culinary experience but also become tastes that diners come to crave.
“These are recipes that we’ve grown up with. We’ve seen our aunts and moms making them,” Arora says of the new dishes, which originated in Delhi and Bombay and fall into two categories. One is Chaat, the only cold food in Indian cuisine and the food Indians traditionally ate if they were going out. These dishes often mix opposing textures—like raaj kachori, which has a fluffy shell filled with sprouted lentils, crunchy corn, yogurt, and chutney. The other half of the menu is more substantial and filling. Wada pao is basically a potato dumpling on a bread roll. “We eat it any time of day. It’s the cheapest possible snack available and it’s a go-to for a lot of people,” Arora says.
Bhurjee pao and rạ kachori (in blue bowl)Arora’s favorite new item is the lamb keema pao, which he describes as “ground lamb cooked with onions, ginger, garlic, some tomato, spices. And it’s stewed for a long time, until it’s nice and tender. It’s almost like an Indian chili without kidney beans. And it goes well with that soft doughy bread.”
Diners familiar with Indian street food are thrilled with the new menu, but Arora realizes that newbies might need some nudging—and possibly some explanation. For instance, they may need to know that chaat are more like snacks, but the katha roti and the pao resemble wraps or sandwiches and can be complete meals.
Also, if you don’t count the keema kaleji (stir-fried goat liver), Chutney Masala’s new street food menu is not as exotic as it may sound. The new jhaal moori, for example, is just like the puffed rice salad called bombay bhel—with a wasabi infusion. Plus, samosas, the ultimate street food, have been on the regular menu since the restaurant first opened. As Arora says, “We already have some glimpses of the street food stuff in our regular menu—and they’re very popular.”