A hungry girl's adventures in Cleveland and beyond.

Choolaah Indian BBQ

After waiting months for it to open, I couldn't wait to try Choolaah Indian BBQ. It has taken over the former Saturn dealership on Chagrin across from Whole Foods and fills a void in this busy shopping district with it's take on Chipotle style service and Indian cuisine.
Indian restaurant, Choolah
The space is modern and cool looking with lots of tile and wood. But we found out later that all the hard surfaces make for a noisy dining experience as did the unexpected number of small children. When you arrive, head to the cash register to order your food. On our visit, the cashier was very knowledgeable about the menu and offered helpful suggestions.

The menu is divided into plates, bowls, sandwiches, salads, sides and sauces. They have a kids menu that includes a naan pizza and two sandwiches made on Pepperidge Farm's goldfish sandwich thins - super cute!
image credit
After much deliberation, I ordered the naan, samosa chaat and chicken tikka masala bowl. The food came out really quickly and looked good.
Indian restaurant
Add usual, I started with the naan because it's normally one of my favorite things about Indian cuisine. Not this time. It was dry and bland, more like a pita. If they offered garlic naan, it might help with the flavor but the texture was still off. Maybe it was stale? I was surpised because they pride themselves on using fresh ingredients and making most things in house.

Next I tried the samosa chaat. It's three deep fried samosas cut in half and served with seasoned chickpeas. Normally this is another of my favorites but this version was bland. Cutting the samosas allowed the filling to fall out and didn't add to the dish in any way. My suggestion: keep them whole and serve them with the mint chutney that came with the regular samosas. It added a burst of flavor that was missing from my dish. If you're looking for samosas, the regular version is a solid choice.

But the chicken tikka masala made the meal. The chicken was tender and plentiful and the sauce had a ton of flavor. The optional chili oil added some extra heat. It was a nice portion and at $11.99 is a good value too. I would definitely order this again and again.
Indian food restaurant
For dessert we shared the mango and malai (cardamom) kulfi - flavorful ice cream that were delicious. I kept going back and forth trying to pick a favorite but couldn't pick a winner. They also had a chocolate truffle on the menu which would be a nice small bite to end the meal.

Beverages include chai tea, mango lassi, beer, wine and an extensive list of soft drinks. The soft drinks are dispensed from a very cool machine that is definitely not your average soda fountain. I was happy to see that they unsweetened lemon seltzer - an unusual treat that I wish was on more menus.

Some things I'd like to try next time are the biryani which was described as a rice pie type dish topped with naan, the chickpea masala, lamb meatballs and lettuce wraps. You can make a lot of different combos by mixing the various proteins, sauces and styles of preparation. The spice levels were mild in my dishes but can be adjusted by using the chili oil and a special sauce called  Choolaah Fire. That one sounds interesting!

Overall, it's a quick, tasty and affordable spot that should do really well, especially once they get the minor kinks out.

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  1. I went today and enjoyed it. I thought some of it was bland, but the sauces helped. They probably keep it bland for the less adventurous eater and offer sauce to spice things up for those of us who appreciate it. I had the chicken tikka masala too. You should also try the grilled paneer tikka masala. I almost liked it more than the grilled chicken. I'm definitely going to be back. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us!

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