By Amanda Narcisi
Choolaah Indian BBQ opens this weekend in East Liberty with a sleek design and spicy food. Its home is at the corner of Penn and Centre, but might as well be the corner of delicious and hip.
The name Choolaah means oven and the concept of Choolaah stem from sanja chulha which means community kitchen and it is plain to see in this location with community tables and a kitchen sectioned off only by a pane of glass. You felt comfortable inside. The service was top notch. They noticed the little things like if you needed a cover for your leftovers and they paid attention to detail to make every piece of Naan with the right amount of fluff. The restaurant is filled with amazing art coordinated and created by Jay Nesbitt. There are hidden mantra sayings all over and even a binary code is written into tiles above the kitchen. One of the most astounding pieces is a sixteen-foot-tall stack of books that are subjects about India culture and food.
The flow of the restaurant is easy to navigate and is fast-food/casual. As you enter the eatery you enter into a line and then you order your food. Every item is laid out in front of you. You start your order with a protein and add it to a bowl, even make your own. There are also Biryani, wraps and street snacks. There is a kids menu that includes a cheesy naan pizza and chicken and rice. The beverages are self-serve and your standard coke and tea or they have a Mango Lassi and a Ginger Lemonade that was very refreshing. Once you order you get a coaster that will alert you when your order is done, which you can pick up at another station. The soda, sauces, and utensils are lined up along the opposite wall.
The food is a great mixture of flavor and spice. I ordered the Lamb on the Choolaah Salad with a Naan and a Ginger Lemonade. The Lamb had a kick to it without any added sauce but it was still flavorful. The salad was fresh and had a lot of variety. There were spinach, chickpeas, and roasted cauliflower just to name a bit of the ingredient. I had a tangy ginger sauce on top and there were fried naan chips that topped the dish perfectly. The best part of the meal is that it was not so heavy. After I felt that the meal was healthy and light.