There’s nothing like hot curry and fluffy naan to warm you up during the long winter nights. When your craving for Indian cuisines seeps in, you find yourself hesitant to make a decision: order your usual chicken tikki masala, or try something daring and new?
At Midtown East’s Chola, you’ll find yourself amazed by all of the options available. You will be able to find your usual dishes that are familiar and comforting, as well as try something unique.
Chola originally received two stars from The New York Times and has recently undergone a transformation and a face-life under owner Shiva Natarajan of Sahib, Dhaba, and Chote Nawab, alongside restaurant proprietor, Min Buhjel. The menu draws inspiration from Natarajan’s culinary travels throughout India with an emphasis on seafood and southern Indian cuisine.
To kick off our meal we started with cocktails. My friend abashedly ordered the Kamasutra made with Spring 44 Vodka, Citadelle Gin, Plantation white rum, and blended with strawberries and mango. The delicious drink made up for the embarrassment of ordering it. I opted for the Himilayan Sunset, which has Spring 44 Vodka, King’s Ginger Liqueur, mango puree, and fresh lime juice.
For non-alcoholic options, try their lassis, either sweet or mango, Moru (salted yogurt drinks with spices and garden herbs, or Sol Kadi (Kokum infused coconut milk drink).
To start we ordered the Goan Mussels which came with a delicious, creamy coconut tamarind broth. It was absolutely delicious that you may want to order another one just for yourself. Also, be sure to order some extra naan to soak up all the delicious sauce.
Other appetizer highlights include Khekda Nariyal, a sautéed crab dish with coconut and mustard seeds, and Jhinga Koliwada, shrimp fry from the fisherman Koli tribe. Order more to try more!
While there are tons of chicken and lamb dishes, we decided to try a goat dish. We ordered the Golbari Kosha Mangsho, the cooked bone-in goat roast from a Kolkata pada. The flavor was mild and creamy, a great option to share with even the most picky of eaters.
For our second entree we ordered the Mashyachi Amt, a delicate white fish slathered with Maharashtrian coconut fish curry and green mangoes. It was very flavorful and yet made mild by the smooth taste of the fish, a great balanced dish. As this style is not too prevalent in most other Indian restaurants, this is a stand-out choice.
Next time we will continue to explore more of the seafood section, including the Meen Moilee, a light and flaky Branzino with turmeric, coconut and curry leaves, topped with green banana chips, as well as the Lobster Ghee Roast with a spicy red pounded masala for a powerful and juicy bite.
Chola is also vegan-friendly, with dishes such as the Adrak ki Gobi Keema, minced cauliflower with green chilies and ginger, and Doodhi Chana, white pumpkin with yellow chana dal.
And of course – naan. Never forget naan.
For dessert, a small menu of traditional Indian desserts can also be found with choices such as a homemade rice pudding and kulfi, Indian-style ice cream. Take it all in under the beautiful marbled walls and beautiful decor, giving an aura of sophistication without being stuffy.
We’ll be back to try even more of their specialties and explore the different flavors of Indian cuisine.
Photos via Chola and by Yvonne Lee