Chillies covers Indian
dining from north to south
By Douglas Habecker
Translated by S. Ying
47, CunZhong St, West Dist
Hours: 11 am-2 pm, 5:30-9 pm
10% service charge.
It's been almost a year since Minesh Valand opened his restaurant and the fact that its spacious interior is frequently filled, even on weekdays, means that there's something special here.
Sampling the extensive food selection, prepared by a team of three Indian chefs, quickly reveals the draw here. Served in hearty portions, Chillies' cooking covers both the full range of northern Indian dishes, better known to most foreigners, and also delicious, very unique southern Indian dishes not found elsewhere in this city.
Left: Ghost Shaag Wala
Medium: Gulab Jamun
Prepared without the richer, buttery sauces of northern cuisine, southern specialties include items like the spicy, deep-fried Chicken 65 (NT$410) and its cauliflower-based Ghobi 65 variant; the donut-like Masala Vada (NT$350); Masala Dosa (NT$350, Mon.-Fri. only), a giant 60-centimeter-long rolled-up, stuffed crepe made from a rice/dal batter and served with with sambar (lentil-based stew) and chutney; and Idli (NT$350), white savory cakes made by steaming a batter of fermented black lentils and rice, also served with sambar and chutney.
Other menu stand-outs include lamb-based dishes like Kadhai Ghost (NT$360), prepared with a tomato sauce and peppers, and Ghost Shaag Wala (NT$360), a wonderful combo of lamb and cream spinach sauce. Non-lamb must-orders include Tandoori Phool (NT$399), featuring marinated cauliflower florets baked with skewers in a tandoor oven, plus Mix Seafood Curry (NT$340); Paneer Butter and Chicken Butter masala; chicken-based Murgh Makhani (NT$330); and perennial Indian favorite Chicken Tikka (NT$320).
Left: Masala Dosa
Right: Masala Vada
Also unique to Chillies are some Indian desserts (all NT$90), including handmade, ball-shaped, milk-solid-based Gulab Jamum, popular in the Bengali-Kolkata area; Kashmeeri Kheer, a northern Indian mix of milk, rice and dry nuts; and Gajar Ka Halwa, a kind of carrot cake popular all over India. For beverages, there are soft drinks, Masala Milk Tea, various yogurt-based Lassi drinks, and beers, including India's Kingfisher (NT$110).
In addition to one-, two- and four-person set meals (NT$439-NT$2,150), which are a great way to sample, there is also a one-person Tuesday-Friday Thali Set lunch (NT$350).
All this showcased in a classy ambiance, decorated with art (some personally created by Minesh) and illuminated by hanging colored-glass Indian lamps and glass walls that look out onto the trees and grass of the CunZhong Street greenbelt (where there's plenty of parking).