Many moons ago, a humble man opened a little restaurant in the foothills of the Himalayas. Not any restaurant but one serving just a single dish – cream chicken.
People travelled far and wide just to get this one dish. At some point, more dishes were added to the menu before the man’s savvy sons set out to expand the Chawlas empire exponentially (hence the name Chawlas2 – pronounced Chawlas Squared). They developed a plan to franchise Chawlas so fans of Punjabi cuisine the world over could enjoy their famous cream chicken and other North Indian specialities. They now have over 100 branches worldwide – from Australia to the US to Dubai.
But don’t expect anything fancy! The restaurant is relatively small and simple, so it’s a place you’re more likely to order from for your weekly Indian home delivery, unless you live in JLT.
As with many North Indian restaurants, there’s a selection of dry starters, including chicken, fish and veggie skewers which are all cooked in the tandoor. I loved both non-veg starters I tried (Peshawari Tikka below (marinated chicken thigh) and the Fish Irani). Though some people in my party seemed to find the Peshawari Tikka a bit spicy, it was perfect for me. The Fish Irani was more mild, like a Malai Tikka.
For mains, we sampled a selection of four curries which were full of flavour (though a bit on the salty side for Western palates). Clockwise from top left: Fish Curry, Paneer Dhaniya Adraki (paneer in a cashew sauce with coriander), Chawlas’ famous Cream Chicken, and Dal Makhani. At any Indian restaurant, I find it difficult to order off the menu and know exactly what I’m going to get, so I generally find some trial and error is involved before you find your favourite go-to items.
The gravies we had were all similar in consistency and quite heavy and liquidy. I personally prefer including at least one green gravy and one dish with a drier gravy, so if I were to go back, I’d order differently.
As for the famous Cream Chicken, it didn’t wow me in the first bite, but I have a feeling it grows on you. I’m a sucker for cream sauce so I’m sure I’ll try it again.
Like many Indian restaurants, you can order a variety of flatbreads – all of which were good. Here’s our bread basket with missi roti (made with wheat flour and chickpea flour), laccha paratha (a layered flatbread made with wheat flour), pudina paratha (wheat flour with mint), butter naan (white flour) and tandoori roti (wheat flour).
For dessert, we had a Kheer Kesari, a thick and creamy saffron-scented rice pudding.
Verdict: Affordable North Indian cuisine in humble surroundings.
Note to self: Some of my Punjabi favourites like baingan seem to be missing from the menu, so need to go elsewhere to get my aubergine fix.
Icon Tower 1, Cluster M
Jumeirah Lake Towers
Tel: 04 514 9271
Chow for now!