Chutney Masala: Irvington’s Indian Bistro

by Katie Schlientz
chutney masala irvington

It was the paapdi chat—a cold, layered combination of semolina crisps, diced potatoes and chickpeas topped with yogurt and chutneys—that had me at first bite. I imagine most love affairs don’t start off that way. But I’m no ordinary gal, it wasn’t an ordinary restaurant setting, and there was nothing ordinary on the plate in front of me. One taste of the traditional Indian street dish started my love affair with Chef Navjot Arora’s food.

paapdi chat

It was a warm spring evening in May, when I sat down to get a taste of competing chefs at the Golden Knives Challenge. I’d never been to Chutney Masala before, never tasted Chef Arora’s food. His first course had me hooked, and I was completely smitten by the end of the meal. What can I say? I’m a girl that falls head over heels in love with food.

On the third evening of the Challenge, Chef Arora and Sunny Kalra—manager of the Irvington restaurant—sat with me at the dinner table. We talked about the history of food, the misconceptions people had about Indian cuisine, and sipped red wine.

Fast forward to a few months later, and I find myself at Chutney Masala. The restaurant has a beautiful view of the Hudson; the smells of what’s cooking are enough to carry you inside.

Chef Arora stays authentic to Indian traditional flavors in the kitchen and that dedication is also reflected in the décor. The two story restaurant features old pictures of Indian families and culture hanging on the exposed brick walls.

Chutney Masala Irvington

My evening started at the bar, where Sunny recommended a smooth Argentinian Pinot Noir. I enjoyed the glass enough on its own, but enjoyed it even more as a backdrop to the complexity of flavors I experienced during the meal.

Knowing how much I loved the first course he featured during Golden Knives, I started with the paapdi again. Although the dish uses ingredients that tend to be on the heavier side—potatoes, yogurt, chickpeas—it left me wanting more.

chutney masala irvington

One of the misconceptions Chef Arora and I spoke about was that all Indian food contains curry. The traditional way you think of “curry” isn’t even correct—any Indian dish that uses “curry” means that several spices were blended together (often into a gravy) and added to the dish. Those spices could mean things like cardamom, pepper, cinnamon, bay leaves, cumin and coriander (just to name a few!).

The lamb vindallo (pictured above on the right), for example, is a spicy lamb curry made with malt vinegar, whole spices and potatoes. I also dined on the tandoori chicken smothered in the restaurant’s namesake, masala sauce. The dishes, although quite different, were incredible and a true reflection of Chef Navjot’s ability to not only use a range of flavors, but hightlight them as well.

chutney masala irvington

{IntoxiKate Tip!}

Love nan? Try the sweet version. The peshawari nan is stuffed with sweets, nuts and coconut. It offsets the savory flavor of the entrée dishes and is also perfect for dessert.

{Chutney Masala: 4 West Main St., Irvington, 914-591-5500, chutneymasalabistro.com}

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4 comments

Anuja De Silva August 23, 2013 - 2:47 pm

Great review Katie! I also had dinner Chutney Masala for the first time in June. We enjoyed the food but dining with a baby gives you another perspective of the restaurant. here are some of my pics! http://threeisacompany.tumblr.com/post/53923835521/dining-out-it-is-a-rare-occasion-for-us-to-dine
Look forward to doing a family friendly dining out post on your site soon!

RSVP Now! IntoxiKate Dinner Party at Chutney Masala - IntoxiKate November 5, 2013 - 10:44 pm

[…] a tour of India’s culinary repertoire! First (and final!) stop: Chutney Masala in Irvington. The evening will start off with passed appetizers paired with an open bar*. Then, […]

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[…] culinary repertoire with Katie Schlientz, founder of IntoxiKate.com! First (and final!) stop: Chutney Masala in Irvington. The evening will start off with passed appetizers paired with an open bar*. Then, […]

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