Princeton restaurant, Hurry Chutney, serves up quick, affordable and authentic Indian food
Harsha Meda and his business partners aren’t in a hurry. They just don’t waste time when know they have a good idea.
From a table at Hurry Chutney, the restaurant he co-owns with Vikram Gokhale and Subrat Patnaik, Meda shared the story of their restaurant as it has evolved from vision to reality to new visions soon to be realized.
In 2009, the three IT professionals and would-be entrepreneurs realized they had a common dream, a restaurant that would serve strictly authentic, high quality and fresh Indian cuisine at affordable prices. They also realized they needed to invest money and time to make the dream a reality.
Deciding it was worth it, they created an action plan. By 2010, they opened the first Hurry Chutney outlet, a take-out place in Somerville. In 2012, they opened the second Hurry Chutney, a dine-in restaurant in Princeton’s Nassau Park. In 2013, they began plans for a New Brunswick restaurant with an opening date set before the year’s end. By 2014, they plan to open a franchise operation.
The Nassau Park restaurant reflects the owners’ vision of a dining space with an ambiance that is open, welcoming and simple in decor. The restaurant offers seating at about 20 tables in one room with walls painted in light colors. As a self-service restaurant, a customer places his order at the counter and is given a pager which alerts him when his order is ready.
Meda, a Lawrenceville resident, said that he and his partners were attracted to the Princeton area because people tend to be ethnically diverse and receptive to multiple cuisines. Nassau Park was appealing because of its location within a busy shopping area with plenty of parking.
“The restaurant’s name, Hurry Chutney, conveys to our customers, we are a quick service restaurant,” Meda said. If spelled as ‘Hari Chutney,’ it means green or mint chutney, he said.
The owners designed the menu to appeal to a wide range of people including those familiar with Indian cuisine and those who are not. Because the food is made to order, the chef can adjust the spices and heat level to the customer’s preference. Diners can choose from a selection of appetizers, vegetarian or meat entrees including chicken, lamb, goat and fish. The menu offers several rice dishes, soups, salads and a wide selection of desserts.
To create authentic Indian dishes, Meda says you need to have knowledge, experience, a dedication to excellence, the right ingredients, and the right cooking techniques and equipment. Their chef chooses from a selection of 40 spices to create the just-right combinations for individual dishes, and prepares the tandoori dishes in an earthen oven that heats up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit to deliver juicy kababs and crispy naans.
Having come from India, each of the partners contributes his own influence to the menu. Chef Kabir, experienced in cooking recipes from various regions, prepares the dishes to perfection and creates his own signature dishes, Meda said.
Customer favorites include dishes that are unique to Hurry Chutney, as well as standard Indian dishes.
Popular appetizers include Hara Bhara Kabab, a crispy spinach, peas and potato patty; Chicken 65, spicy cubes sautéed with onion and bell peppers in a hot sauce; Kati Rolls, chicken rolled in a thin egg-layered flat bread with mint chutney and onions; and Bhel Puri, a tangy snack made with puffed rice, onions, tomatoes and mint chutney. A popular appetizer from the Indo Chinese menu is Gobi Manchurian, batter fried cauliflower with ginger and green chilli in a light soy sauce.
The menu offers several cooking styles on both the vegetarian and non vegetarian menus, including Chettinad dishes, South Indian delicacies prepared in peppercorn and tomato sauce; Biryani dishes, slow cooked and made with a combination of rice with vegetables, meat, or shrimp; and Samosas, pastries stuffed with meat or vegetables.
Dishes made with paneer, a type of non melting cheese that is firm but not hard, are popular items on the vegetarian menu. Three favorites include Paneer Tikka Masala, made with a creamy tomato sauce; Saag Paneer, made with sautéed spinach and garlic; and Malai Kofta, potato and paneer dumplings with nuts and raisins cooked in a mild sauce.
A popular Tandoori dish is Malai Kabab, chicken marinated in a sour cream based sauce with mild spices.
The restaurant offers an extensive selection of breads, including a several varieties of naan, fluffy yet crispy bread baked in a tandoor oven; and several varieties of paratha, flat bread typically pan fried.
The dessert menu features items made in-house, including mango cheesecake, rose flavored yogurt, sweet milkballs and more. They also sell desserts provided by Bengali Sweet House, and a variety of unique ice creams including pan masala and butter scotch.
Entrees range from $8.95 to $16.95; appetizers from $3.95 to $12.95. The restaurant offers lunch specials which change daily. Customers can join Club HC and receive email alerts of their daily specials, other offers and customer loyalty rewards. The restaurant also offers take-out, party trays and catering.
Meda smiles when he talks about the success of Hurry Chutney in Somerville and Nassau Park, the upcoming New Brunswick eatery and the franchise plans. But what really makes Meda smile is hearing customers say they are happy after eating a meal his staff has prepared. When people are happy, they usually want others to be happy as well, he said.
Meda shared a Sanskrit phrase spoken after an enjoyable meal, “Sarve Jana Suhkino Bhavantu” meaning “May all mankind be as happy as I am.”
Hurry Chutney, 465 Nassau Park Blvd, Princeton, (609) 807-8899
On the web: hurrychutney.com
Hours: Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.