Food & Drink

New in Nashville: Chaatable

At her soon-to-open restaurant, chef Maneet Chauhan presents a traditional taste of her homeland. Get a sample here

photo: Food photos by Daniel C. Rivera

Left to right: Moong Dal Chaat, chef Maneet Chauhan and Vivek Deora, Shammii Kebabs.

Can you feel nostalgia for a food you may never have tasted? The chef Maneet Chauhan hopes so. Childhood memories are the guiding force behind Chaatable, the restaurant Chauhan and her husband and business partner, Vivek Deora, are opening later this month in Nashville’s Sylvan Heights neighborhood. The menu showcases Indian street foods and snacks (or “chaats,” as they are known India) that the couple grew up eating. “The first thing people are hit with in visiting India is the sensory overload,” Chauhan says. “We’re trying to recreate that in the middle of a dining room in Nashville.”

Chaatable will be the couple’s fourth Nashville restaurant, joining Chauhan Ale & Masala HouseTansuo, and The Mockingbird. At Masala House, Chauhan blends Southern and Indian cuisines playfully—hot-chicken pakoras, for example. At Chaatable, she’s aiming to introduce diners to more traditional Indian foods. “We’ll have regional dishes you haven’t seen,” she says. “There is a Parsi dish like short rib salli boti curry (a dish with ginger and matchstick potatoes) and macher jhol, a dish we’re presenting in an elevated form—whole fish deep fried with mustard sauce.”

Nashville isn’t the only Southern city with a growing appreciation for Indian food thanks to a surviving number of prominent chefs from around the region. In January, the Southern Foodways Alliance hosted its first “Brown in the South” dinner series in Atlanta to help spread the word, and the flavors. The collaborative meals brought together chefs of Indian descent who make the South their homes, like Asha Gomez of The Third Space in Atlanta, Meherwan Irani of Chai Pani in Asheville, and Vishwesh Bhatt of Snackbar in Oxford, Mississippi. Chauhan hosted the group’s second supper in Nashville this summer, and was eyeing real estate soon after.

“We strongly believe that Nashville is a music city not only because of the performers, but because of the audience,” Chauhan says. “That works in terms of food also—Nashville is becoming a food city because there’s an audience for it.”

Chaatable is scheduled to open before the end of November; sample a preview with Chauhan’s recipe for Shammii Kebabs here. The kebabs—flattened-and-fried patties of minced meat and lentils, not skewered and grilled chunks—are popular throughout India and Pakistan. Think of them as a cross between hamburger steaks and croquettes.


Maneet Chauhan’s Spiced Lamb Patties

The Nashville chef shares a recipe from her newest restaurant, Chaatable: Shammii Kebabs

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

    • 3 ¼ oz. chana dal, soaked in cold water for about an hour (split yellow chickpea lentils, available here)

    • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped

    • 8 garlic cloves

    • 2 oz. fresh ginger, roughly chopped

    • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil (plus more for frying)

    • 1 lb. lamb mince (ground lamb)

    • 1 tsp. salt, divided

    • 3 fresh green chiles, roughly chopped

    • ¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped

    • 1 tsp. garam masala

    • ½ tsp. Kashmiri chili powder

    • ½ tsp cumin seeds

    • 1 lime, juice only

    • 1 egg, lightly beaten

    • 2 tbsp. plain flour

  • For the Filling

    • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped

    • 1 lime, juice only

    • 1 fresh green chili, finely chopped

    • 1 handful mint leaves, finely shredded

    • ¼ tsp. sugar

    • ¼ tsp. salt


Preparation

  1. Drain the chana dal and set aside.

  2. Put the onions, garlic, ginger, and two tbsp. water in a food processor and blend to a paste.

  3. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add the onion paste, and cook for about 10 minutes. Stir in the lamb and chana dal, pour over enough water to just cover the meat (roughly 14 fl. oz.), add ½ tsp. salt, partially cover with a lid and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes then remove the lid and cook for 5–10 minutes more, or until the meat is just starting to brown and stick to the the bottom of the pan. It’s important that any excess moisture has evaporated. Transfer to a plate and leave to cool for about 15 minutes.

  4. Place the cooled lamb mixture into a food processor and blend into a smooth paste. Add the chiles, cilantro, garam masala, chili powder, cumin, the remaining ½ tsp. salt, and lime juice to the lamb mixture and blend again, then gradually add enough of the egg to bind the mixture without making it too wet. Transfer the mix into a bowl and stir in the flour.

  5. In a separate bowl, mix together all the filling ingredients and drain off any excess liquid.

  6. To shape the kebabs, wet your hands and divide the mixture into about 16–20 portions. Shape one portion into a patty about 1½ inches in diameter and ½ inch thick. Spoon three-quarters of a teaspoon of the filling in the middle of the patty and draw the edges around and filling to form a ball. Then, carefully, flatten it into a 1/2-inch thick patty. Repeat. Refrigerate patties for an hour.

  7. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a heavy frying pan over medium heat. Fry the patties in batches for 2–3 minutes on each side, or until golden-brown and cooked through. Remove the patties from the pan and add the lime quarters for 1–2 minutes until warm.

  8. Sprinkle the kebabs with salt and serve with lime wedges, red onion rings, and green chutney on the side.

Recipe from chef Maneet Chauhan of Chaatable,  Chauhan Ale & Masala HouseTansuo, and The Mockingbird in Nashville, Tennessee.


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