Chaiwali, an indian restaurant that feels like home – the new york times

Greeting us when we walked into Chaiwali, the Indian restaurant she runs on the first two floors of her brownstone in Harlem, Anita Trehan had two tables to offer. Sauce for pasta with chicken All the others were taken. Recipe for homemade pasta sauce It was a busy Friday night.


“I have this long wood table here,” she said. Homemade spaghetti sauce from scratch with fresh tomatoes “Or,” she continued, extending one arm toward the foot of the staircase leading to a second-story dining room, “I have this beautiful little marble table right there.” She sounded as if it were a prize she had been saving for the first people she thought would appreciate it.

Now, this table sits in a tight corner. Homemade fresh tomato pasta sauce Its edges are deeply scalloped, so once our samosas and smoked eggplant arrived, it became clear that the marble surface was even smaller than it looked. Best homemade spaghetti sauce from scratch But by that point, it didn’t matter. Homemade spaghetti sauce recipe to can The owner, who is also the chef, the decorator and the occupant of the house’s upper stories, had proudly seated us at a piece of furniture she had bought and placed there because she liked the way it looked. Sauce for pasta and sausage What were we going to do but settle in and see what else she wanted to share with us?

This must be one reason large, diverse crowds have descended on Chaiwali since it opened last year despite its fairly low profile outside the neighborhood. Making homemade spaghetti sauce from scratch So many restaurants that draw more publicity seem interchangeable: Nobody would notice if they traded menu items, light fixtures or any employees short of the chef. Homemade tomato basil pasta sauce Chaiwali does not always have their caliber of professionalism; servers are genial but may forget dishes, and when it’s time to clear the table, they may disappear into the vapor. Homemade tomato pasta sauce But it does have its own way of looking at the world.

Ms. Best homemade spaghetti sauce recipe for canning Trehan seems to have built the restaurant on the belief that the things she likes will make the rest of us happy, too. Tomato pasta sauce with cream cheese You see this in eccentric bits of decoration, like the stuffed peacock that perches on the upstairs bar. Homemade pasta sauce to freeze The whole second floor is a bit of a peacock; there’s also a taxidermied antelope head and a flamboyant mural of a tigress and butterflies. Homemade spaghetti sauce recipe paula deen A wall of glass looks out over Lenox Avenue, but the real scenery is inside.

The downstairs dining room is calmer, with an intricate pattern traced on the exposed brick walls and a row of windows facing the garden, where a big communal table sits inside what looks like a giant birdcage. Homemade tomato and basil pasta sauce Maybe the peacock used to live there.

The menu feels personal, too. Homemade spaghetti sauce from ketchup It reminds me of the relaxed, light-handed, modern food that Americans with roots in India, like Ms. Best homemade spaghetti sauce with fresh tomatoes Trehan, may cook at home. Making pasta sauce from scratch with tomatoes Her recipes probably aren’t her grandmother’s, but she pays attention to the quality and balance of saffron, fenugreek, ginger and coriander. Making sauce for pasta What comes out of her kitchen looks attractive, but it hasn’t been whipped into stiff peaks of fine-dining artiness.

I could imagine being invited to a dinner party where Chaiwali’s smoked eggplant dip, full of garlic and juicy black olives, was put out with hot sheets of flatbread while everybody limbered up over cocktails.

“Just Samosas,” as the menu calls them, might appear next. Homemade pasta sauce for toddlers They have a potato-pea filling with a decidedly peppery bite. Easy homemade spaghetti sauce from scratch It’s a treat to find samosa wrappers as thin and greaseless as these in a restaurant.

In the winter, the first course could be Chaiwali’s silky carrot soup, intensely flavored with saffron and a few fried curry leaves that float on the surface. Tomato pasta sauce recipe jamie oliver In summer, maybe the appetizer would be the Goa shrimp ceviche, sweetened with little cubes of mango; the host would tell everybody to dump the little saucer of puffed rice and fried threads of chickpea flour over the top for crunch.

Then, if you were in luck, she might carry vindaloo lamb chops to the table, having marinated the meat with vinegar for tenderness and ginger for flavor. Pasta sauce homemade recipe Chaiwali makes vindaloo with complexity and nuance, nothing like the aggro-curry the color of a rusted tailpipe served in generic Indian restaurants. White sauce recipe for pasta by sanjeev kapoor It comes with potatoes softly roasted with whole mustard seeds, a recipe that I am going to steal.

Other main courses can expose the kitchen’s vulnerabilities. Tomato pasta sauce with hidden veg recipe The small pieces of black pepper chicken were dry both times I tried the dish. Making a cheese sauce for pasta The pool of lightly curried tomato gravy helped, though, and I enjoyed the nutty and firm red quinoa served in place of the traditional rice.

The okra fries served with the excellent sautéed fish, seasoned with mustard seeds and herbs, then dredged in a delicate rice-flour batter, sounded great in theory. Homemade pasta sauce canning In practice, their crust was going soggy one night, and while it was quite crisp and hot on another, some of the long green pods, cut lengthwise, were a little stringy.

Still, I’d order either dish again, which I wouldn’t say about the Desi pasta, which changes night to night but which, when I met up with it, was tossed with a shiitake-cream sauce. Recipe for easy homemade spaghetti sauce I remember nothing about it except the color, which I’d call off-mustard. Recipe sauce for pasta The clever veggie burger, a tall fritter of kale pakora with avocado, lettuce and tomato on a bun, made a more appealing meatless dinner.

Desserts find a happy medium between too basic and too complicated. Homemade spaghetti sauce from scratch using fresh tomatoes The one called Alice’s Jamaican rum and biscuit pudding tastes something like a tiramisù spiked with booze. Homemade healthy pasta sauce Mango whipped with yogurt and goat cheese is like a lassi turned into a mousse. Homemade spaghetti sauce from scratch fresh tomatoes (There’s an actual mango lassi on the drinks menu, and it’s good, too.)

The one dessert that scared me was the one I liked best: the curry cumin cookies. How to make homemade tomato pasta sauce These little ginger-spiked bites, crumbly like shortbreads, are refreshing and bright, with a black pepper finish that took me by surprise in the best way.

The cookies worked a small miracle that nothing else has ever accomplished: They actually made me want a cup of chai. Homemade pasta tomato sauce But the chai at Chaiwali is not the lukewarm broth of dirty milk in a paper cup that you get in coffee shops. How to make easy homemade pasta sauce It is a potent mocha-colored drink, like a cortado made with strong black tea and spices.

It was Ms. Homemade pasta sauce easy Trehan’s desire for a cup of chai made the Indian way, the way she used to enjoy it in Delhi, that drove her to open Chaiwali. Homemade tomato pasta sauce with fresh tomatoes Of the many reasons people have for starting a restaurant, the desire to serve something they themselves want to eat and drink is one of the best.