Tag Archives: Indian

Chef Prasad Chirnomula of Thali on Food Network’s Chopped Tonight

1 May

Credit: from Oaxaca Kitchen site

Yes, you read that correctly.  Chef Prasad Chirnomula of Thali and Oaxaca Kitchen fame will be showing off his culinary chops tonight at 10 pm on Chopped, “Yuzu Never Know.”  Tune to Food Network and see Prasad’s other three challengers and to see what he’s up against!  Each episode is a contest of quick thinking, culinary technique, and just plain raw genius.  Many a chef have quaked when they open up the dreaded baskets, and with good reason.  You never know what you’ll find inside of there.

Well, we do know some details of what’s inside.  We’ll break down the three rounds and will fill in more information after the airing, including the competitors and the winners.  Good luck Chef Prasad!   May the best Indian chef who owns Thali and Oaxaca Kitchen win.  We’ve updated this post to reflect the competitors, the ingredients, and those who were chopped.


1) Prasad Chirnomula: Thali and Oaxaca Kitchen (CT)

2)  Kenneth Johnson:  Pescatore (NY)

3)  Zaina Dell’Aquila:  Condé Nast Café (NY)

4) Fanny Gerson:  La Newyorkina (NY)

Cooking Rounds

1) Appetizers:  chefs must use yuzu, cucumber, black mission figs, and sturgeon filet.

    Who’s chopped?  Chef Prasad, you’ve been chopped.  He forgot to put cucumber in his sturgeon croquette.  Although Chef Fanny’s ceviche was tough, the omission of the cucumber warranted Chef Prasad getting chopped.  In addition, they felt that the mandatory ingredients got lost in his other spices.

2) Entrees:  orange gelatin, mutton chops, baby leeks, and banana potatoes.

Who’s chopped?  Chef Fanny was chopped.  Her potatoes and the sauce on them was great, but her broiled mutton chop had raw fat on it and wasn’t “up to par.”

 3) Desserts:  Israeli couscous,  Mexican chocolate, pasilla chiles, and pineapple.

Who’s chopped?  Chef Zaina, you’re chopped.  Her “bread” pudding was too dry and, overall, the judges felt that Chef Johnson’s  dishes utilized the ingredients better.


Kenneth Johnson of Pescatore lasted ’til the end and took home the $10,000.  He plans to go to Europe and make his granddaughter even prouder.

Air Times 
10 pm, 5/1/12 on Food Network.  Other showings are 5/2 at 1 am, 5/10 at 9 pm, and 5/11 at 12 am.  Past that, you’re on your own.  Check your listings. ;)

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
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

Spicy (but kinda cold) Indian delivery kicks our butts! Coromandel–Stamford, CT

17 Jan

Remember when all that snow hit us and we were either stuck in our houses or just really didn’t want to go outside?  Well, we could have gone out in search of food like any good primitive hunter, but I guess we just felt lazy.  Earlier that week, we had passed Coromandel and I think the proverbial seed was planted in our brains.  I’ve been there twice and the food was always great, never disappointing. I even took my friend Paul, a spicy food aficionado, there before we saw Puscifer at The Stamford Arts Center and he loved it too.  So back to our snow day- Kristien called up for delivery and we were told there’d be about an hour wait for delivery.  We expected that, sure, because it wasn’t the best outside, but what we didn’t expect was to wait 2 hours for our food.  Yeah, that sucked, big time.  Our food was cold and almost all of it had to be reheated.

That being said, when it was reheated, it was still excellent.  We started to chowdown on the poppadom with the three usual suspects:  mint chutney, spicy sauce, and tomato chutney.  This is always a fun part of the meal because you get to try out the different flavors while you wait for the rest of your food to arrive (or in this case, heat up).  We followed that up with our naan.  Seriously, who doesn’t love naan?  If you don’t, you should seriously just stop reading this because you are not worthy of hearing about this Indian goodness.  Kristien had the Afghani Kulcha that was stuffed with raisins, nuts, and cottage cheese.  She loves that and will ALWAYS pick that on the menu.  I’m really picky with my cheese, so I went with the Aloo Paratha, a whole wheat naan that’s stuffed with spiced potatoes.  Seriously, this stuff is great, but be ready because it’ll weigh you down a bit. :)  Both tasted very good, though they were both a little on the burnt side. Not ideal.

My entree was the Goan Chicken.  The chicken remained moist and seemed light compared to the the heavy tomato sauce with red chiles.  Now, Coromandel isn’t joking around if they say that something is HOT.  If they say it’s hot, it’s hot.  Don’t mess around, seriously.  It wasn’t too much for me because I love spicy, but I was sweating.  Kristien had a similar experience with her Mamsam Koora.  The lamb was cooked nicely with ginger, green chillies, peppers, garlic, some curry leaves and was finished off with a Hyderabadi sauce.  Kristien was in tears from the heat, but enjoyed her dish.

Our favorite part of the food at Coromandel, though, is the dessert that they send along with the meal.  Gajar Halva, carrot pudding, has a sweet, honey taste that spreads throughout the carrots.  You feel like you’re eating something other than carrots…it’s undeniably a work of art.  Look at that wonderful texture in the picture!

All around, Coromandel is an Indian treasure in Stamford, though they’ve been expanding quite a bit lately into other CT cities.  If you want good, quality, authentic Indian fare, this is the place to be.  We’ve had delivery from them before and it wasn’t bad or a problem then, so we’re hoping the 2 hour wait won’t become a standard.  After calling two times, the manager in charge did offer to give us our food for free if the delivery wasn’t there in 5 minutes.  It arrived 2 minutes later.  Oh well, a free meal would have been nice.  ;)

Noms:  3.75
Cost:  $$$
Address:  68 Broad Street (Corner of Broad and Summer)
Stamford, CT 06901
Phone:  (203) 964-1010
Fax:  (203) 358-8848
Hours:  12-2:30 pm (M-F) 12-3:00 pm  (Sa-Su)
5-10:00 pm (Su-Th) 5-10:30 pm  (F-Sa)


Coromandel on Urbanspoon

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