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Chicken tikka masala, vegetable korma, & mint-cilantro water: a visit to Chauhan.

For my fancy birthday dinner, I racked my brain for somewhere in Nashville I’ve been meaning to try—which is hard, because Nashville gets new restaurants on the daily and they’re all delicious (it’s basically a rule). Thankfully, I remembered that Chauhan Ale & Masala House had been on the dream dinner list for a while. Maneet Chauhan (from the Food Network!) owns it, and every review I read claimed that it was just as amazing as you’d hope. Not to mention—I love some good Indian food. And oh man, it was an experience. Here’s how it went:

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I was excited.

Here’s a bit of the interior. It was dark and cozy, and they had music videos projected onto the walls. There were candles everywhere and pillows on the larger booths. Fancy but relaxed. We sat at a table without pillows, sadly, but that was probably good so I wasn’t tempted to nap right there with a full belly of incredible food.

Time to eat! We opted first for the gol guppa shots, which I’d read were a must-try. They arrived in a couple minutes after we ordered them and were the perfect way to cheer myself up after our waitress told me that no, Chef Maneet was not in Nashville tonight.

The gol guppa shots were semolina puffs filled with a spicy sauce and a potato-black garbanzo bean mixture. To eat them, you poured a little mint-cilantro water from the cute bottle and ate the whole thing at once. It was crunchy and chimichurri-y and spicy and potato-y all at once. I’ve never had a dish like that before!

We decided on chicken tikka masala and vegetable korma for dinner (although I could’ve ordered about 10 other combinations). We also ordered naan on the side (which came in 4 quartered pieces) and papadum.

The chicken tikka masala came with a bunch of huge, tender pieces of chicken and a dark, creamy tomato sauce that was fairly mild, spice-wise. The korma included potatoes, cauliflower, green peas, peas, and pickled onions on top, and the sauce was amazing. A little spicier than the tikka masala but just the right amount of comfort food warmth. I cannot even explain it. With rice and two sides to dip into the sauce, I nearly literally licked the bowl clean.

Even though I got korma on my scarf, it was the perfect birthday dinner. My favorite kind of meal out is one where you only talk about the food and the experience because it was so good and unusual and interactive, and that was definitely the case here.

Oh, and here is my outfit for the night, which I was very proud to have put together. I had planned to wear this blue swing dress with my sandals and the jean jacket, but it SNOWED in Nashville this weekend, so I adapted it. Leggings and a swing dress is the perfect outfit for eating a ton of food, I have discovered.

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Here’s to more Indian food in the year of 27!

Check out more about Chauhan here.

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