February 19, 2013 at 10:23 am , by Serina Patrick
Chai Pani Brings “Mindblasting” Indian Cuisine to Decatur
The addictive street eats and vibrant energy of Chai Pani will captivate Atlanta diners when the restaurant opens in downtown Decatur on Friday, March 1, 2013. Conceived by husband and wife team Meherwan and Molly Irani, Chai Pani has wowed critics and locals alike at its first location in Asheville, N.C., and now the team will showcase their authentic menu of street food specialties as diverse as India’s own culture in one of the Atlanta areas most beloved culinary destinations.
Indian cuisine in America is often dominated by northern Indian influences and the Iranis, craving the flavors served throughout the “rest of the country,” have set out to change the preconceived notions that many Americans have about Indian food. “I wanted to bring the rest of India to the table – the colorful, vibrant and exquisite flavor profiles, the innovative regional diversity, the fun, the excitement, the bright flavors of street food and the simple refinement and comfort of home cooking,” said Meherwan, Chai Pani’s executive chef and visionary.
Chai Pani does just that with a variety of self-described “mindblasting” options ranging from chaat (small plates) and a line-up of “greatest hit” Indian street sandwiches, to uttapam (Indian crepes), thalis (traditional entrees), desserts, beverages and signature cocktails.
The Iranis sought to showcase India’s street food because to them, it represents the everyday flavors and diverse influences found across the country. The dining experience begins with chaat favorites such as sev batata dahi puri, a hollow, puffed wheat cracker stuffed with spiced potatoes, onion, cilantro, sprouted mung beans and crispy chickpea noodles, drizzled with tamarind chutney and sweet whipped yogurt; and aloo tikki, a fried potato croquette studded with peas and seasoned with cumin and ginger. Hand julienned okra is flash fried and tossed in a secret spice blend to create the okra fries, a dish that has gained a cult-like following at the Asheville location.
For lunch and dinner, guests can choose from an assortment of street sandwiches served with a choice of masala fries or the aforementioned okra variety. Signature items include the Tandoori fish wrap featuring sustainably harvested tilapia, seared with Tandoori spices in a griddled wrap with onions, cilantro, rice, roasted lentils and chutneys, and the Sloppy Jai, a spicy, aromatic lamb hash served up on griddled buns, Chai Pani’s take on the traditional kheema pav.
The assortment of main courses is headlined by thalis, a traditional Indian meal featuring a daily selection of regional dishes that highlight the country’s culinary diversity. Vegetarian and non-vegetarian varieties are served with fragrant basmati rice, daal, sabji, raita, roti, kachumber, papadum and a dessert of the day.
As executive chef, Meherwan’s priority is buying ingredients from local purveyors and farmers when possible and practical. Chicken is natural and sustainably raised, and Chai Pani’s meat and dairy are all natural and antibiotic and hormone free. For items that cannot be sourced from the local community, Chai Pani imports the highest quality specialty items from India. Spice blends are always freshly roasted and ground, and all chutneys and sauces are prepared in house. (photo courtesy of the restaurant’s website)
406 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue
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