Earlier this month, Scene gave readers an exclusive first look
at Choolaah Indian BBQ
(27100 Chagrin Blvd., choolaah.com), a brand new fast-casual concept that aims for nothing short of revolutionizing Indian food in Cleveland. Following a few days of invitation-only dining, the restaurant one year in the making will finally open its doors to the public at 11 a.m. Friday, November 28.
Owners Randhir Sethi, Raji Sankar and James Nesbitt spent the past year converting a former Saturn dealership into a sleek and spacious restaurant that can accommodate about 125 guests. A grand staircase and soaring entrance usher in guests, who place their order at the counter, pay and sit down. Large color photos depict some of the many possible food combinations, while various charts offer suggested pairings.
While everyone else is rushing to launch the next "Chipotle version" of this or that cuisine, Choolaah takes a dramatically different approach. Food is cooked to order in tandoor ovens using traditional recipes. The cooking technique stretches back thousands of years, and all food prepared in the ovens is traditionally called "Indian barbecue." The result is a cuisine that stays true to its roots, bursting with complex, fragrant and delicious spice characteristics.
Proteins such as chicken, salmon, lamb meatballs and paneer, made in Amish Country using Choolaah's own recipe, are skewered and plunged deep into the 600-degree ovens. When seared and cooked through, those items are paired with various sauces and sides and served on platters, in bowls, on salads, or in sandwiches. Prices are in the range of $11 to $12 per meal.
"We understand that some people might not be familiar with — or may even be intimidated by — the food," says Nesbitt. "The idea is to make it as simple and accessible as possible."