Desi Galli is located at 101 Lexington Avenue at 27th Street, 212-683-2292, www.desi-galli.com and is open for lunch and dinner from noon to 11 PM. Takeout, delivery, eat-in and offsite catering are all available. The dining room is also available for meetings with comfortable seating, free wifi, cellphone chargers, high-resolution flat-screen televisions
Already known for its exciting versions of hand-held Indian street foods, Desi Galli now offers healthier, enlightened versions of their popular kathi roll, including the first and only gluten-free paratha, developed in-house and made with chickpea and rice flour, as well as an expanded menu including other new vegan and gluten-free options.
Owner PriaVanda Chouhan and her husband created their restaurant to satisfy the Desi (Indian sub-continent diaspora) hankering for Indian soul food. Though her father warned her husband-to-be that she couldn’t cook, PriaVanda soon taught herself to make not only her mother’s recipes but also her husband’s family favorites. Inspired by Rachael Ray’s fast and easy methods for putting dinner on the table in under 30 minutes, she turned her home kitchen into a test kitchen, mastering a multitude of Indian recipes every day, and also developing her own personal style of lighter, healthier, vegan and gluten-fee cooking without sacrificing flavor or authenticity.
Now she runs the day-to-day operations of this popular fast casual restaurant, as well as overseeing the menu. She also designed the chic subterranean dining room: following the brick staircase (a nod to London’s Brick Lane) to the basement galli (Indian alley) that is decorated with bright red walls and new artwork. Perhaps the most important element of the design is the open kitchen, where guests can see all their favorite comfort foods being prepared to order and where the highest priority is the fresh, high-quality ingredients—including fresh vegetables, herbs, spices, paneer (cheese), chicken and Halal meats including Australian lamb, all ground in house. Nothing is microwaved or comes out of a box.
The Birth of the Kathi Roll
Desi Galli has distinguished itself with its fresh and healthy kathi rolls and sliders, selected as the Best Indian Sandwich in New York by Time Out and praised repeatedly by Serious Eats. One aspect that makes Desi Galli’s kathi rolls special is that there is no clarified butter (ghee) in any of the wraps. Made to order from a choice of paratha, the quintessential north Indian flat bread, the chewier stretchy roomali roti from central India, whole-wheat vegan paratha, created especially by Desi Galli with no dairy or egg, and now, the first gluten-free paratha, made with chickpea and rice flour and yogurt, a delicious wheat-free alternative. Any kathi roll can be ordered with your choice of bread, and the addition of spinach or an egg. The Desi Galli kathi roll leaves you satisfied, without a heavy feeling.
Thirteen varieties of kathi roll can be ordered gluten-free with fillings that include chicken korma, delicately spiced chicken with tomatoes, lamb bhuna, slow-cooked, moist and tender Australian lamb and the galli omelette, a warming combination of eggs, bell peppers, onions and tomatoes with a distinctive India twist. One of the newest gluten-free options is the vegan 7 vegetable, that combines lightly spiced curried carrots, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, green peas, broccoli and cauliflower in a delicious mélange. Other vegan fillings include channa, spiced chickpea, aloo, spiced potato and aloo piyaaz, a combination of chickpea and potato with cilantro. There are hundreds of options—depending on how you choose to customize your kathi rolls. Equally popular are the sliders: Mumbai pav, traditional Indian buns served slider style with Indian-spiced fillings such as aloo paneer tikki pav, cumin-flavored potatoes and grated Indian cheese or the vada pav, a vegetarian potato fritter with tamarind chutney.
In addition to these favorites, the menu now includes biryani, another favorite Indian comfort food—that is also gluten-free. At Desi Galli, the fragrant, delicate rice dish is made to order in the open kitchen and served with a side of raita (yogurt sauce). Flavors include vegetable and paneer tikka (both vegetarian) and chicken, lamb or shrimp.
The chaat menu includes new dishes, too. These traditional crunchy, spicy, tangy, savory, vegetarian dishes appease every snack craving. In particular, the newly added vegan pani puri, pays homage to the owners’ Gujarati heritage, reflecting the preference for strong spice in Northern India: The bite-sized puri (puffy bread) are filled with spiced potatoes and a dose of tamarind water. Another new Gujarati chaat is shev puri with spiced potatoes, tamarind chutney, mint cilantro chutney, yogurt, showered with shev, crispy bits of chickpea flour noodles. Not to be missed is palak patte ki chaat, which won a shout out from Serious Eats, chickpea-flour dipped fried spinach leaves, layered with spiced chickpeas, red onion and diced tomato, drizzled with yogurt, mint chutney, and tangy tamarind sauce.
Also new on the menu is a selection of pav dishes—traditional curries served with the same pav (rolls) used in the sliders served with a side of chopped red onions, fresh cilantro and lemon. The wonderfully spiced Gujarati vegetable mash characterized by the cauliflower and eggplant in addition to potatoes, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and peas—made to be soaked up with the fluffy white bread. Other varieties include spiced chickpea, Indian cheese with tomatoes and peas, chicken korma, slow-cooked lamb and minced lamb.
In keeping with the figure-friendly menu, the menu now includes a selection of salads (also all gluten free)—mixed greens, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes and onions with a choice of mint or tamarind dressing, featuring either marinated paneer, chicken tikka (marinated chicken breast) or seehk kebab, spiced Australian lamb strips.
To go with these snacks, Desi Galli offers a selection of beverages, including custom-blended masala chai served hot or iced, house made mango lassi and imported Indian soft drinks such as Thums Up and Limca. There are also desserts for a special treat: Rasmalai, cottage cheese dumplings soaked in sweet saffron flavored milk or Galli Ki Kulfi, creamy, yet light, housemade saffron or mango-flavored iced cream on a stick.
Good idea. Good food. Good price. I’ve enjoyed Indian snacks in India, but seldom in NY Luxury restaurants. which sometimes offer them as a gimmick. Here’s the real thing. Very nice indeed.
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