May 20, 2013
Written by Fran Sikorski
Thursday, 23 July 2009 10:10
Before opening Thali in New Canaan, his first restaurant as a solo owner, Chef Prasad Chirnomulaowned and operated as a partner six restaurants in the Northeast. His goal, he said, was to “create imaginative dishes based on traditional Indian standards.”
He immigrated to the United States from India in 1985, having studied at the Food Craft Institute of Poona, India, and becoming, at age 22, director of food and beverage at the Ritz Hotel in Hyderabad.
Following his success with Thali in New Canaan, Chef Prasad opened two more Thali restaurants, in Ridgefield (296 Ethan Allen Highway; 203-894-1080) and New Haven (4 Orange Street; 203-777-1177).
In 2008, he opened, Thali Too on the Yale University campus in New Haven (65 Broadway; 203-776-1600), featuring an inexpensive Indian vegetarian menu.
Last year, Chef Prasad led a 15-day culinary tour to India with 35 Indian food lovers, and on his return was honored at the James Beard House in New York City where he prepared a complete Indian dinner to a sold-out audience. Another tour is now in the planning stages.
Assisting Chef Prasad in menu planning is chef de cuisine Yam Bohra with Amal Venato as pastry chef, and together they create beautiful food combinations that are updated regularly to reflect new trends and the changing tastes of customers.
If you’re a bread lover, you will enjoy the simple nan, the flat bread from the clay tandoor; pudina paratha, topped with fresh mint and pomegranate; and kulcha, filled or topped with garlic, onions, potatoes or green chiles, nuts and raisins — great accompanied by a Taj Mahal beer.
Very popular are chat, Bombay and Delhi street vendor snacks topped or filled with chickpeas, potatoes, chutneys with tiny, thin crisp crackers or lentil noodles, my favorite.
Summer-worthy entrees include Colorado lamb chops with a hint of nutmeg, cumin and mace; My Mother’s Hyderabad ghosht banjara, goat on the bone cooked in pounded spices; charcoal-smoked eggplant smashed and cooked with tomatoes and green peas; prawn gassi, southern Indian style shrimp in roasted coriander and red chiles; and chicken tikka masala in a creamy tomato sauce. A favorite is sunheri bhindi, julienne of okra fried crisp and dusted with tangy powered spices. You can also request the chefs “to go easy on the spices.”
Because I’m a lemon fan, the trio dessert made with lemon, lemongrass sorbet and lemon curd is tops. For more richness, try banana samosa and chocolate, which is a banana-filled crisp pastry with chocolate ice cream, banana sauce and pistachio brittle; mango kulfi, with Indian ice cream, mango-passion fruit sauce and pepper chips; and gulab jamun, fried milk pastry balls simmered with honey cardamom.
87 Main Street
New Canaan, 203-972-8332
Open seven days for lunch from 12 to 2:30; dinner 5 to 10 Monday to Saturday; 4 to 9 Sunday; brunch 12 to 2:30 Saturday and Sunday.
Reservations accepted; handicap accessible; major credit cards; child-friendly; full bar; wine by the glass $8 to $9, by the bottle, starting at $30; regional Indian cuisine; vegetarian specialties; take-out, off-premises catering; casual dress; wine dinners; private functions; entertainment, Bollywood nights Friday evenings; cooking classes; street and municipal parking.
Editor’s Note: Restaurant features are not intended as formal reviews, but are offered to give our readers a sense of what’s available at area establishments.
Mac Daddy Macaroni & Cheese Bar, the first mac and cheese restaurant in Fairfield County, has opened at 7 Main Street, Georgetown, in a space previously occupied by Donna Marie’s owned by Robert Dunn of Redding, also creator of the Mac Daddy concept. Executive chef of Mac Daddy is Ridgefielder Alex Castagneto who has been with The Early Bird Café and The East Ridge Café. Mac Daddy is open seven days for lunch and dinner. For more information, call 203-544-7199.
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