Navjot Arora, chef and co-owner, graduated from one of the most prominent culinary institutes in India. His training led him to work for the prestigious Taj Group of Hotels in India where he honed his skills under master chefs. His vast experience and passion for Indian food brought him and his wife Anu to New York, where he headed the kitchen at the critically acclaimed Café Spice Restaurant Group.
Navjot’s fascination with food began at a very young age. Nutritious and appetizing food was very important to his entire family. He spent hours watching his mother creating a healthy selection of vegetarian dishes in the kitchen and was always by his father’s side observing him cook his signature goat curry. Seeing his interest and curiosity, He was made in charge of making an important condiment, the mint chutney! Navjot picked fresh mint leaves from their garden and used his mother’s recipe to puree the ingredients using a mortar and pestle.
Anu and Navjot have always enjoyed cooking together, creating their own recipes, and using the recipes passed down from older generations. They always wanted to share their passion for the diverse flavors of Indian cuisine with others. Navjot and Anu are now able to share their love for Indian cuisine with their patrons
“Chutney”, an anglicized form of the Hindi word chatni, is an important condiment or relish used to complement a dish or an entire meal. Chutney is made by combining a variety of ingredients ranging from fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices to achieve different textures, flavors and taste. We make ours fresh in house with family recipes from all over the Indian subcontinent
“Masala”means a blend of fresh herbs and spices combined with aromats to create a unique base for each dish. We use spices not to make the dishes chilli hot, but to bring out the complex flavors of traditional Indian food. As Indian cooking requires careful attention to detail, we grind our own spices from scratch and make our own blends.
The popularity of grilled or baked food has increased tremendously as people search for healthier options in dining. In our kitchen the Tandoori clay oven provides a healthier option with the Indian twist. We marinate our vegetables and meat and cook them in the Tandoor that reaches temperatures of up to 700F. What comes out is some of the most delicious and healthy baked food. Last but not the least we truly believe good food begins with the best ingredients. We procure fresh, wholesome ingredients with no artificial flavorings or additives. Our meats are all natural and free range, without antibiotics and hormones, wild and not farm raised seafood, fresh locally available produce.
The restaurant’s design is a befitting ode to the British colonial raj for its contribution to putting Indian cuisine on the world map. While ruling India, the English fell in love with Indian food. The various spices and flavors were nothing like they had ever tried before. They loved the food so much, that they would bring their own Indian cooks, known as chutney marys, when they would travel back to England. These women would make chutneys and blends of spices, which the British called curry, to recreate Indian meals in England. The English were really the ones to introduce Indian food to the rest of the world. Who knows, Chutney Masala and other Indian restaurants may have never opened had it not been for the British Raj Era.
The designer, Tarik Currimbhoy has captured the British Raj era through pictures and lithographs, The bar top is handmade tiles, antique mirrors adorn the walls, the hand blown glass light fixtures, and the green banquets transform you to a time in India where traditional met modern. To give you a further glimpse, a wall full of pictures from the Era, each with a history of its own, are those of India’s famous photographer, Raja Deen Dayal. (www.deendayal.com)