Chef Prasad attains culinary Nirvana. Thali-Westport, CT

10 Apr

Our uber-cool seat right by the kitchen. Slam!

Thali, led by Executive Chef and owner Prasad Chirnomula, sits in a little strip mall nearby Trader Joe’s in Westport.  The very same Prasad Chirnomula who owns Thali in New  Canaan, Ridgefield, New Haven, and Westport.  He’s also opened up the vegetarian Thali Too in New Haven and a new Mexican bar and restaurant, Oaxaco Kitchen.  Did we mention that Prasad is a James Beard Honoree?  Yeah, you know this place will be off the hiz-ook before you even look at the menu.

Semolina dosa crisp crepe...'nuff said

As we made our way to our seats, we were greeted on the left by a massive white Ganesh, the bringer of beginnings and the remover of obstacles.  Our seats were nice and cozy and were set right next to the kitchen, seen through funky lit strings (seen in the picture above).  I think this really shows what Thali is about:  classic, gourmet Indian food with a modern twist.

We decided to go with a bottle of Gruner Vetliner which proved to be a great pairing with the spicy and flavorful food that awaited us.  It was fruity with a nice crisp apple taste and wasn’t overpoweringly sweet like Riesling can be.  This balanced out some of the heat that was about to hit us.  Rather than start with an appetizer, then have an entrée each, we decided to get more of a sampling of Thali.  After all, you’ll notice that their menu really puts the focus on small bites!

We began with the semolina dosa crisp crepe (say that 10 times fast)– a crispy and light crepe that was stuffed with potato, onion, and chile.  This was a monster dish, taking up the entire plate, but we quickly devoured it.  Four sauces on the side were great accompaniments to the crepe:

1) Coconut:  a thick sauce that was light in flavor and had a very subtle coconut taste.  It was good, but we wanted more coconut taste.

2) Mint:  this sauce was probably the best mint sauce we’ve ever had–it wasn’t too minty at all.

3) Tomato:  this was an excellent sauce with nice smoky flavor throughout.

4)  Vindaloo:  spicy and so good–warning, will cause pain if too much consumed. ;)

Baaahhdd? No freakin' way! Grrreeeaatt lamb croquettes

As we finished the crepes, we were brought the lamb croquettes.  They came out looking like meatballs, but the taste was drastically different from how Grandma used to make.  Mixed with cumin, coriander, ginger, mint, mustard, and other spices, the meaty goodness of the lamb really took this dish sky high.  There was a very subtle amount of sweetness to this dish, adding a nice touch.  The lamb croquettes were dense, that’s true, but Kristien and I disagreed about the moistness.  I thought that it was great this was, but Kristien wanted it to be a bit more moist, though she still did love them.

Finally, we got our entrée:  Chicken Vindaloo!  Beautifully cooked chicken smothered in a spicy tomato sauce that had just the right amount of kick to it (of course, we like it pretty spicy).  Chunks of potato were mixed in, too, giving this dish some nice contrast.  We poured this on top of the rice they gave us and, once again, we were in nirvana with Lord Ganesh by our side.  With the Vindaloo, we also ordered the garlic spinach–a light and creamy puree mixed in with cumin and other spices.  Kristien dipped the hell out of everything in sight into the cucumber yogurt side which was cool, refreshing, and oh so cucumbery.  Last of all, we enjoyed the walnut and raisin naan.  The naan was baked so well and came out crispy, yet doughy.  The walnut taste was great and took over the dish, but we wanted more raisins to balance things out.

Chicken Vindaloo, our naan, and the killa garlic spinach

Thali in Westport is an incredibly solid restaurant that won’t disappoint you.  With Prasad’s focus on small plates, you can try an amazing amount of dishes, over and over, amen and hallelujah!  If you want Indian food, done right, this is your spot.  This takes me back to my second birthday that I spent with Kristien.  She had a bad experience with Indian at Kashmir Indian Kitchen in Norwalk.  I think at that point her stomach felt like it would implode, then explode.  The ever brave soul she is, she took me on my birthday to Thali in New Canaan a few years ago.  Guess what?  Prasad made us both disciples, and I feel that we’re even more devoted to him now after this visit.  We will go where you lead, o mighty chef, because Thali is by far the best Indian in Fairfield County!

Noms: 4.25
Price:$$$
Address:376 Post Road East
Westport, CT 06880
Phone:  (203) 557-4848
Site:  http://www.thali.com/wp1.html
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/ThaliWestport/391402881736

Thali Westport, Regional Cuisine of India on Urbanspoon

9 Responses to “Chef Prasad attains culinary Nirvana. Thali-Westport, CT”

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