ADYA Indian Cuisine’s Executive Chef Shachi Mehra has chosen a month-long period to showcase one of the most popular elements of her native cuisine by presenting her first Curry Festival. “Curry, in simplest terms, is a mix of spices – the composition of these spices varies greatly among the regional cuisines native to India,” commented Chef Shachi, whose diverse menu of fresh Indian flavors features a variety of traditional curries. “As curries become increasingly popular, diners are beginning to realize that curry isn’t just Chicken Tikka Masala. My goal is to provide my guests with a better understanding of the defining factors of the different types of curries one can find in Indian regional cooking”. The event’s upcoming week will feature the curries of West India, including a stuffed eggplant curry, a spicy lamb curry and a unique chicken and apricot curry.
I was invited to partake of this week’s curry specials from South India and more at ADYA. For those who do not know it, ADYA is not your regular Indian restaurant. ADYA’s location, in the Anaheim Packing District, makes it a great place to go for a drink and dinner or a casual lunch. The upscale food court that is the Anaheim Packing District also means that if you go with a group and one person wants something else to eat, anything can be brought to your table so each can enjoy their food together. ADYA has plenty of counter space to eat at, with the seats looking right on the open kitchen for a birds-eye view of the cooking in addition to plenty of tables in front. In back, the boxcar patio seats 30 and makes ADYA a perfect place to enjoy the great weather while eating some exotic Indian food.
Chef Shachi described the Jackfruit Curry as “Very common in the south, we use a raw jackfruit, flavored with black cardamom which adds the smokiness, fenugreek, mustard, lots of cilantro and a little bit of ‘heat’”. The dish itself was stupendous, with the jackfruit looking more like chunks of chicken or pork rather than your typical fruit. The taste was delicious, with the cilantro and a slight amount of chili adding a tingle but not making it spicy enough to turn off those who do not like hot dishes. This is an excellent dish and not just for vegetarians. The mouth feel of the jackfruit makes it a very hearty dish.
The Chettinad Chicken was the second curry served. “The Chettinad spice mix always has a lot of black pepper, a bit of heat from the black pepper as well as dried red chiles”, the Chef explained. It was tasty, with enough kick to satisfy anyone who likes their dishes with a kick. The chicken was very tender, especially tasty when scooped up with pieces of the fresh Garlic Naan bread that she bought to the table. All of the curry dishes were accompanied with the traditional bowl of perfectly cooked Basmati rice.
The final curry that Chef Shachi prepared was the Fish Moilee, from the Indian state of Kerala. Chef Mehra described this curry as “From the region of Kerala, which is known for this dish. It is going to be very low in spices so that the fish and the coconut milk can be melded together and highlighted, as opposed to masked by a lot of flavors. It indeed was a subtle dish, with the flaky fish perfectly seasoned and able to still stand out with its own flavor in the delicious curry.
Chef Shachi also brought a spiced lamb naan to the table and it was extremely delicious. “The Keema Naan is made with ground lamb, seasoned with a bunch of spices that we later take out, plus red onion and made into a stuffed naan”, she said. The lamb did have a lot of spice to it, but not in a ‘heat’ way. Instead, it seemed liked a chorus of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and more were used to flavor the meat. This certainly is one of the most delicious stuffed naans and definitely worth trying.
ADYA Indian Cuisine also sells many more varieties of dishes, from tandoor kebabs to Indian wraps called Kaathi Rolls which are stuffed with potatoes, panner, chicken and lamb as well pavs, which feature spiced vegetables, potatoes and lamb on a kaffir lime butter-toasted bread. Of course, her list of curries is ever-changing and always interesting. Beverages include beers, sodas and an authentic Masala Chai. There is even a dessert list of delicious Indian treats. All in all, not only is the location in the Anaheim Packing District a fun place to walk around, grazing and shopping for a few hours, but ADYA and Chef Shachi Mehra delivers on supplying tasty Indian food in an atmosphere which is very comfortable and great for a group.
ADYA Indian Cuisine is located in the Anaheim Packing District, 440 S. Anaheim Blvd. #201. Their website is www.adyaoc.com. Chef Shachi Mehra also conducts Indian cooking classes the last Saturday of each month, with a hands on interactive culinary demo to teach guests simple and delicious Indian foods at home. Each cooking demo will finish with a light lunch. For reservations, please call (714) 533-2392.