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Choolaah Indian BBQ Review & Giveaway

If  you took a look at my 2017 family budget on mint.com and tallied up our eating-out expenses you would probably find that Indian is our most frequent restaurant cuisine.  So, when I was invited to attend a blogger event at Choolaah Indian BBQ, I was all-in to try this fast-casual restaurant, learn about Indian spices, and practice my own hand at mixing masala.  (Masala is the correct word, not curry. Check out why from NPR.) Dave and I cook Indian at home frequently since it lends itself well to dairy- and gluten-free adaption but we can’t quite get the spices quite right when we want to up a flavor other than heat (which we aren’t cooking with at all right now because the kids’ palates have become pickier). Choolaah’s  Mosaic District location is bright and spacious. The kitchen is on-display through huge glass panels where you can watch the staff throw naan into the huge tandoor ovens and cook.  The blogger crew got to try our hand at throwing naan into the 700 degree tandoors, and it was intimidating! Choolaah Choolaah In the dining room, I was instantly drawn to the hand washing machine which demonstrates the company’s culture of extreme cleanliness. (When I returned later with my kids,  the 5 y.o. was drawn to the machine, too. That particular child has never washed his hands with such enthusiasm before let alone again, and again, and again.)  ChoolaahChoolaah During the event, I met Simran Sethi, Director of Culinary R&D and Product Development, who personally spent two years travelling, tasting, and adapting family recipes to mix the best of history and modernity into Choolaah’s recipes. Following Ayurvedic principles, each recipe is designed to have a blend of six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent, and pungent. We got to do a blind exploration of spices in Choolaah’s foods to understand these different characteristics. My favorite discovery from this exercise was green cardamon. It is sweeter and smoother than black cardamon and I think it is the flavor in several restaurant dishes that I have not been able to put my finger on. ChoolaahChoolaah Simran helped me understand that to develop flavor in my own cooking, I need to use spices in different ways: sauté in oil at the start to infuse the dish with a bloomed flavor, add during cooking to fully incorporate mellow well-rounded flavor, and add at the end for finishing.  Alas, I’ve been a one-trick-pony thus far and only use spices in the cooking stage. Another great tip I got from her was to clean my spice grinder (a repurposed coffee grinder) with raw rice to absorb up old spice oils. Choolaah 
Now to the food! The menu features one column for choose-your-own-adventure BBQ meals: pick a protein barbecued in the tandoor oven, pick a saucy masala (free tastes available at the register so you can choose your favorite), then pick wheat or white naan bread. Another column lists specialties, and another lists greens like salads or lettuce wraps. There are also naan wraps, desserts, sides, and a kids menu.

 (Sorry for the blurry picture. Hopefully it will give you an idea of beauty of the food, though.)

(Sorry for the blurry picture. Hopefully it will give you an idea of beauty of the food, though.)

My child with no food restrictions loved the naan pizza from the kids’ menu. Things were trickier for the other kids and me. The good news is that Choolaah has great allergen menus on their website so most people will be fine. The downside for my crew is that there are very few things that are both dairy and gluten-free. All of the meats are either soaked in yogurt or contain butter. The veggie croquettes contain gluten. So, that left us with tofu as the only acceptable protein. It is easy to end up with boring tofu, but Choolaah has a condiment bar with enough spunk to pep it up. Spicy mango, tamarind apple, Choolaah fire, and Choolaah lava sauces are all gluten and dairy-free. Choolaah Items are $10 and under, so Choolaah is an affordable place to grab a quick, punchy meal because “life’s too short to eat boring,” as their slogan goes. Choolaah generously provided me with a $25 gift card to give away to a lucky reader, so please enter the Rafflecopter below! (Other than a free meal and a scrumptious bowl of mixed spices, I was not compensated for this review. All opinions are my own.) a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About More Green for Less Green

Hi, I’m Pamm. Welcome to my little slice of the web! As a progressive Evangelical female pastor and crunchy homeschooling mom, I’m never quite what anyone expects of me. But, hey, that’s what makes blogging interesting, right? Join me as I try to wholeheartedly parent my three little boys, slowly fix up the trashed foreclosure we bought in 2009, and live simply.

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Suzy December 30, 2017, 9:58 pm

    Ooooooh! I’m with the five year old. I love fancy places to wash my hands.

  • Jen January 2, 2018, 2:31 am

    We’ve only been once but loved it! I’ll have to share some of my Indian recipes with you. I wonder if you could make a coconut milk paneer? Thanks for sharing your tips learned!

  • Kristy January 2, 2018, 3:34 am

    We’ll definitely give it a try!

  • Jen January 3, 2018, 3:42 am

    I’ve been there twice, it’s fantastic1 I too love the hand washing station. We went the first week it opened and then again a few months later. I really need to go again. The food was delicious both times.

  • bn100 January 4, 2018, 11:07 pm

    looks tasty

  • Eileen Boyce January 7, 2018, 1:04 am

    This looks neat!

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