Haldi is the latest addition to the bright culinary strip of Manhattan affectionately dubbed “Curry Hill”. But Haldi does anything but blend in with the rest of the Indian offerings. It’s the home of authentic regional Indian cuisine, with a special emphasis on dishes from Calcutta, a diverse region of India which hasn’t been explored by many New York-Indian restaurants. It boasts an original menu which seamlessly blends ethnic and progressive dishes.
Owner Shiva Natarajan, who has launched a string of highly-rated Indian restaurants including Chola, Dhaba, Kokum, Chote Nawab and Malai Marke, conveys his passion for authentic Indian cuisine which experiments with modern and traditional, paving the way for a new generation of modern Indian restaurants in New York. Unlike his previous eateries, Haldi transports diners to Calcutta, the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal, and enables spice-seekers to sample Bengali-Indian food at its very best, with perennial favorites like vindaloo, kababs and tikka masala. Natarajan’s philosophy for Haldi is simple; he doesn’t compromise the foundation of Bengali cuisine, whilst still showing a commitment to innovative Indian fare.
Bengali food is characterized by the use of extensive spices for both fish and vegetable dishes, with combinations not found in other parts of India, as well as the use of freshly-ground mustard paste. The varied menu also pays favor to ethnic influences of Calcutta food, most notably Bengali-Chinese cuisine and Calcutta’s Jewish community.
A signature dish at the restaurant, the Tandoor Pumpkin, served with a delicious tomato chutney, is subtly spiced and perfectly cooked. Other not-to-be-missed dishes are the Tandoor Nimbu Bhindi, served with skewered okra, bell peppers and home-made mustard chutney, and Chelo kebab, a Persian skewered minced lamb roll – an incredibly popular dish in West Bengal which has become synonymous with iconic Calcutta restaurant, Peter Cat. Seafood lovers will rejoice in ordering the Sorse Maach, a mustard-chili tender fish curry also popular in Calcutta, which serves as a lesson in how fish should be cooked.
Whether it’s in-house or takeout lunch you’re after, Haldi offers one of the most inviting midday menus in Curry Hill. And with prices starting from only $8.95, the news is likely to catch on fast. The Indo Chinese lunch, served with chili chicken, vegetable Manchurian and vegetable fried rice, is deliciously fragrant, while the Tand Mix Grill, an assortment of vegetarian and meat kebabs, served with stir fry cabbage rice and roti, is hard to resist.
The interior of Haldi is cleverly-designed to transport guests to Calcutta. The 60-seat restaurant is playfully themed around the restaurant’s namesake – Haldi, the Indian spice turmeric – and is accentuated by vibrant splashes of mustard-yellow. Little touches such as copper tawas (Indian woks) hanging from the ceiling and whimsical murals depicting old-world Calcutta add to the cultural experience.
Haldi is located at 102 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY, and is open Monday through Sunday from 11AM to 9PM.
For more information visit www.haldinyc.com