Take one step into the bright and welcoming Choolaah and you will discover your newest craving – perfectly flavored Indian food that caters to every taste bud and diet! A restaurant built on the concept of community (a chulha was an oven in a village where neighbors could come together to cook), their food boasts premium ingredients and recipes crafted in house every day. Co-CEO Raji Sankar said the goal is to provide food that people can feel good about putting into their bodies. “Food should be wholesome and witty and something that’s engaging,” she added.
Engaging indeed – the restaurant’s modern architecture catches your eye as you are welcomed by helpful servers, known as “guest ambassadors” at Choolaah. Watch through the windows as the cooks throw the naan bread onto the walls of the tandoori ovens – which also offers suspension cooking for their meats, a healthier method that provides maximum flavor as the outside is seared, flavor is locked in and fat falls away.
Whether you’re gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, vegetarian or vegan, you will find a delicious meal here. Begin your visit with one of their street snacks: an order of samosas which feature perfectly flaky dough hugging a filling of potatoes, peas and spices or their pav bhaji, fluffy buttered buns with a vegetable gravy to dip in with fresh veggies on the side.
Highlights from their entrees include their popular “build your own” BBQ bowls (try the chicken) which comes with regular or whole wheat naan bread or the dramatic biryani bowl, where you break through the crust to reveal the fragrant basmati rice and protein below. Visit their sauce bar for a plethora of additional ways to flavor to your meal. The spicy mango sauce pairs perfectly with the lamb meatballs, and for the brave, try the Choolaah Fire or Lava sauce on your tikki masala. Sip on a mango lassi or a ginger lemonade to provide the perfect complement to the spices in your meal, and don’t forget to end your meal with a serving of either their homemade kulfi (Indian ice cream) or their gluten free chocolate truffles.
“The food has to speak for itself,” said Sankar. With no artificial colors or preservatives and clean, wholesome ingredients – the food doesn’t just speak to your taste buds, it sings.
21426 Epicerie Plaza Sterling, Virginia 20164
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: TRACI MEDLOCK