Sherman's Food Adventures: The Yellow Chilli

The Yellow Chilli

This post has been a long time coming.  It is not because I've been waiting to try The Yellow Chilli, rather, this was done awhile ago and I just didn't finish writing about it.  Once you see all the food Mijune and I ate, you will understand why.  Now don't confuse this with a restaurant in Surrey with a similar name.  This one features the unique dishes designed by famed Indian Masterchef Sanjeev Kapoor.  Furthermore, with a modern decor and crafted cocktails to boot, this is no ordinary Indian restaurant.  Without further ado, let's get to the over 30 dishes we tried!

The night of gluttony began with the Masala Papad & Dahi Golgappa.  Topped with a tangy tomato and onion relish, the crispy lentil cracker was an appetizing snack before we got to the mains.  There was plenty of sharpness from the onions and  tanginess from the tomatoes.  Somewhat similar, the dahi golgappa featured hollowed up puri were filled with yogurt and topped with tamarind and pomegranate seeds.  Due to the sweetness and acidity present, this was another item that whetted our appetites.

Onto our actual appies, we started with the Hara Masaley Ka Bhuna Paneer which was charred paneer and vegetables in a green marinade.  Loved this dish as the paneer was beautifully charred.  This gave a smoky flavour to go with the decent amount of heat.  The lemon wedge provided the brightness for the dish. This was further enhanced by the side of 3 chutneys including mint, tamarind and beetroot.  

Another vegetarian offering was the Tandoori Soya Chaap sporting soya bean-based imitation chicken that had an appealing texture akin to the Chinese-style vegetarian "chicken".  It was marinated in yogurt and spices then charred in the tandoor (was pretty crispy on the outside).  Hence, it also had an aromatic smokiness accented by spice and heat.  They were served in shot glasses with the mint and beetroot chutneys.  There was considerable spice from the cilantro chuntey.

One of my favourite dishes of the meal was surprisingly the Crisp Palak Chaat with batter-fried baby spinach leaves drizzled with tangy dressing, sweet yogurt and pomegranate pearls.  Seriously, each leaf of baby spinach was hand-battered and fried.  Imagine the effort!  Well, it paid off because each one was crispy and light.  The appetizing tang from the dressing and yogurt kept me going back for more.  Addictive!

Moving along, we had something that at first glance looked like a Thai green papaya salad.  Well it was to an extent being the Papaya Peanut Kachumber with raw papaya & roasted peanuts in a tamarind dressing.  Due to the use of tamarind, the flavour profile was tangy and sweet.  There are different versions of this salad without tamarind, but I'm glad they used it because the flavour is more unique and impactful.  There was also a background earthiness to the dish.

Onto something that featured meat, we had the Murgh Angaar Bedgi which was chicken tikka spiced with special bedgi chillies.  Once again, the marinated chicken had a flavourful caramelized crust on the outside.  Hence, it was plenty tasty even without the chutneys.  There was spices and some heat while the chicken itself was tender and moist.  Again, to lighten things up, the lemon wedge was there for those who wanted it.

Another favourite of mine was the Tandoori Lamb Chops.  Not trying to sound like a broken record, these were marinated in yogurt and spices, then cooked perfectly with a nice char.  There was a good combination of spices including noticeable cumin and coriander (which is excellent with lamb) and heat.  The meat itself was fatty, tender and juicy.  I could eat a tonne of these!  By now, the beetroot chutney was being overused a bit, so maybe a different sauce, or not sauce would've differentiated the dishes better.

No, we weren't done with the same style of plating yet as we had the Chanajor Garam Tiki which was fried cheesy potato patties coated with spiced black chickpeas.  Another study in contrasting textures where the soft filling was countered by the crunchy chickpeas on the outside.  It was almost like a croquette, but with more flavour and spices.  I didn't get too much of the cheese, but it was definitely there.

One last appie was the Amritsari Machchi featuring fried halibut nuggets.  The thing about halibut is that it is pretty easy to tell if it is fresh or not.  This particular dish did have fresh halibut as it was flaky and almost buttery (which cannot happen if they halibut is not fresh and also if overdone).  Each nugget was coated in a thin crispy batter that was nicely spiced.  The caraway seeds provided a nice flavour to each piece of fish.  This especially went well with the salad.

Now finally exiting the appetizer portion of the meal (would be enough food for most already...), we headed to the mains.  The first set of dishes included Murgh Survedaar, Subz Panchvati, Lalla Mussa Dal and Shaam Savera.   The murgh survedaar featured a spicy chicken curry flavoured with black pepper and coriander. This was actually one of the least spicy dishes we had, but that also allowed for the other flavours to come through.  The chicken came in large tender and moist chunks.  With a mix of veggies, the subz panchvati exhibited good spice and spices.  There was a noticeable tanginess and the veggies were still vibrant and crisp.  I found the lalla mussa dal to be creamy and a bit tomatoey with noticeable heat.  The lentils were tender while still exhibiting a bite.  Sporting 4 spinach dumplings filled with creamy paneer in tomato gravy, the shaam savera was a hearty vegetarian dish.  The actual dumpling itself was rather dense, but I enjoyed the paneer and it went well with the relatively mild silky sauce which was quite complex.

Next four dishes were Gobhi Achari, Fish Tikka Masala, Dal Tadka Dhaba and Butter Chicken.  With firm cauliflower florets, the gobhi achari was appetizing with tanginess from the collection of pickling spices.  This was further enhanced by some of the classic spices such as cumin, coriander and turmeric.  I loved the fish tikka masala as the fish itself was in large pieces as well as being flaky and moist.  This was one of the more mild offerings with appealing tang and of course mix of spices.  Onto another lentil dish, the dal tadka dhaba was rich with a definite cumin slant.  This was medium in terms of heat and featured yellow lentils.  Alas, of course we had the butter chicken and this was delicious.  I found this version to be creamier and more subtle than some of the tangier ones.  There was definite heat to go with the usual spices.  Hidden within the sauce, we found large pieces of tandoori chicken that were flavourful and tender.

Continuing on, I doubled up on the picture of the Gobhi Achari but clockwise, we had the Bhuna Gosht, Do Pyaaz Ki Bhindi and Butter Chicken Dariyaganj.  I was delighted to see that we were served the bhuna gosht as I normally do not have a chance to eat goat.  This featured tender meaty pieces of bone-in goat.  I found the flavours to have a fall-spice slant with a strong presence of cloves.  I quite enjoyed the okra in the do pyaaz ki bhindi where it was fried to a point where it didn't exhibit much of the usual slimy texture.  The combination of spices created a wealth of flavours that was a bit smoky, spicy and earthy.  Sporting bone-in chicken, the butter chicken dariyaganj was noticeably more tangy than the other butter chicken we had. Also, being the chicken leg, the meat was more rich and slightly more tender.

Last set included Salad, Raita, Makhanwala Paneer  and Nalli Rogan Josh.  As tasty as the aforementioned dishes were, I was really looking forward to getting in on some lamb creations.  My wish was granted in the form of the nalli rogan josh with a bone-in lamb shank.  The lamb was tender and gelatinous whereas the sauce exhibited fall-type spices including cloves and cinnamon.  Somewhat similar to butter chicken except with a few spice differences as well as the use of paneer over chicken, the makhanwala paneer was rich and creamy.

Now moving onto the starches of the meal, we had the Murgh Noormahal Biryani featuring a sealed pastry top.  This kept all of the moisture inside and also helped heighten the flavours.  There was plenty of heat to go with the spices where the cardamom and cumin stood out. The basmati rice was perfectly textured being al dente with a tender chewiness.  Nestled within it, there was tender nuggets of chicken that had taken on the flavour of the spices.

Onto the breads, we had everything including the Garlic Naan, Butter Naan, Pyaaz Mirch Ke Roti, Pudina Laccha Paratha, Plain Naan, Amritsari Kulcha and Pudina Laccha Paratha.  Naturally, I gravitated towards the garlic naan as that is my favourite.  It was crispy with a slight chewiness and full-flavoured with butter and garlic.  Now the rest of the breads were good but there was something different at the table.  Can you guess which one?  Yes, it is that big one being the amritsari kulcha topped with butter.  Apparently, there is a dedicated chef brought in from India that makes it.  This was soft and rich especially with all that butter.

Of course we had all of the desserts (thanks to Mijune) including Zaik-e-Shahi, Kesari Kulfi with Rabdi, Gajar Halwa, Gulab-e-Gulkand and Shahi Tukda.  My favourite of the bunch was the shahi tukda where the bread pudding was moist and sweet.  Nuts and dried fruit added some texture to the dessert.  I also enjoyed the gajar halwa which was shredded carrots, nuts, raisins and spices.  This was earthy and sweet and I especially liked the plump raisins.  The other 3 desserts were pretty sweet as usual but I did like the kulfi as it was creamy and aromatic.  Now as you can see, we practically destroyed the entire menu and usually that means there are more things to critique.  However, most of the dishes were on point and truly flavourful in their own unique way.  Definitely a place to hit up for Indian food in the Lower Mainland.

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Curries were distinctive despite spice overlap, also had good heat
- Large portions
- Modern dining space

The Bad:
- Some appies were repetitive in flavour profile 


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