Sneak Peek at INDIA in New Canaan: Chef Chirnomula's Newest Restaurant

Jeff "jfood" Schlesinger

The news that Chef Prasad Chirnomula was moving across Main Street to the building that formerly housed Boulevard 18 in New Canaan spread like wildfire throughout the culinary underground in Fairfield County. Locals who enjoyed his cuisine at Thali ould once again enjoy the chef’s traditional and inventive Indian creations. What concept would the new restaurant entail? Would it duplicate the feel and cuisine of Thali. 

In an exclusive interview with CTbites, the celebrity chef gave his insight into his vision of the new restaurant, INDIA, from the new concept for the cuisine and the vibe to the exciting collaboration on the cocktails with mixologist Jessica Spector. With an anticipated opening date in mid-April, the chef is already developing a different feel for INDIA.

When Chirnomula announced the closing of Thali, his landmark Connecticut restaurant, he was quick to mention that he was not leaving New Canaan, but was looking for a smaller, more intimate location. The neighboring space at 62 Main was a perfect location and he spoke with the owners of Boulevard 18, who wanted to concentrate on their sister restaurant, Strada 18 in South Norwalk…the timing was perfect. This free-standing building dates back almost 150 years and has housed several outstanding restaurants including L’Abbée and Aloi, prior to Boulevard 18.

The interior of the restaurant is currently divided into three areas, a small front eating area, a bar with several seats in the middle, and a large dining area in the rear. Chef Chirnomula will change the décor into a more dramatically different feel, with the interior of the dining area transformed from a robust French bistro to a softer, more intimate ambiance. His plans are to accent the décor with “sexy, lingerie fabric” to create a more relaxed and intimate atmosphere for guests to enjoy a time with friends and family and enjoy Chef Chirnomula newest cuisine.

The local celebrity chef has spent over 30 years bringing regional Indian cuisine to Connecticut, and the menu will include many traditional favorites, from Chicken Tiki Masala to Korma. INDIA will also serve as the springboard to the next phase in the chef’s culinary journey…a totally new concept for Fairfield County. INDIA will focus on a “reinvention of Indian food” where Chirnomula combines the best of local ingredients with his flair for Asian regional cuisine. He gave CTbites a sneak peek at several ideas that he was considering for the opening menu. They include a dumpling dish from Nepal, Indian ramen with buckwheat noodles, dishes made with Goat stock, plus dishes utilizing quail, wild boar, and crab. It is best described as eclectic Indian-inspired cuisine utilizing local ingredients. The new location also features a side patio and Chef Chirnomula mentioned a few ideas that he is considering with warmer weather including “fresh kabobs cooked on site.” He is already in discussion with several farms in the area to supply produce and meats.  

Joining Chef Chirnomula in developing the bar menu is Jessica Spector, who will oversee the formulation of cocktails. In additional to a large selection of artisan local IPA beers that will work deliciously with the cuisine, Spector will create vintage as well as some “shocking cocktails.”  

Stay tuned as CTbites continues to provide additional details to the opening of Chef Chirnomula’s INDIA restaurant.