By W. A. Muller
Located in New York’s celebrated “Curry Hill”, world-class chef and tandoor master Hemant Mathur’s restaurant Dhaba brings a fresh take on Indian fare by showcasing regional cuisine in a sophisticated environment, reminiscent of the new generation of modern Indian restaurants prolific in London, England. In recent years, modern Indian cuisine in London has left behind the traditional Curry House and moved towards the exciting realm of fine dining, with award-winning Indian restaurants like The Cinnamon Club pushing boundaries and impressing critics. Hemant Mathur, who has been a visionary leader in the transformation of Indian food in the United States, is bringing this new movement to New York via Dhaba.
Dhaba, which focuses on Punjabi cuisine, is the modern interpretation of a traditional dhaba in India. Traditionally, dhabas are eateries commonly found in the outskirts of metros in Northern India and are widely reputed to serve flavorful and authentic local food. More recently, dhabas are sprouting all over cosmopolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai, bringing their brand of authentic, flavorful food to city connoisseurs. In Punjab, “farm-to-table” isn’t a trend; it’s part of daily life. Farmers in the region are knowledgeable about food and fresh produce in the way most chefs are. These local attitudes are brought to life at Dhaba by Mathur, whose commitment to authentic flavors and regional cuisine has earned him two Michelin stars and a slew of accolades. In addition to Dhaba, Mathur owns several other highly-rated Indian restaurants – Chola, Chote Nawab, Haldi, Kokum and Malai Marke – each one showcasing its own regional cuisine.
Dhaba offers a full menu and several specialty dishes, as well as an extensive vegetarian selection. Favorites include familiar “dhaba” staples such as Sarson ka Saag and Makki da Roti, but also spotlights a wide array of Punjabi dishes such as Hare Nimbu wale Murgh, Chicken Kaali Mirch, Punjab da Lauki Masala, Shalgam Saag and Bharvan Shimla Mirch. The menu features popular Northern Kabobs such as Paneer Taash Kabob, Kakori Kabob, and Adrak ki Champ. These broad menu choices are sure to delight the palate of New York City gourmands.
Ensconced in the Murry Hill neighborhood of Lexington Avenue, Hemant’s vision of a dhaba with a modern twist was made a reality with the help of designer Thida Thong Thai. Low lamps hang discreetly within the restaurant resembling the street lamps that hang over these traditional eateries. The emblematic earthy greens, natural beiges and dark brown silks combined with magenta and orange accents add a luxurious tone to the dining room. A large communal banquet table in the center keeps with the characteristic dhaba homage. The colorful glass tunnel entrance, decorative spice bottles and steel bar with colorful glass bangles are an unexpected surprise that adds a touch of modern flair while still in tune with its traditional presence.
108 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10016