After the success of Indika in Montrose, owner-chef Anita Jaisinghani had many Houstonians anxiously waiting for the recently opened… Pondicheri.
Located inside West Ave, Pondicheri doesn’t come across as the kind of Indian food that has often caused a flood of fear to appear. Pondicheri describes the menu as “the best of classic, home style and street foods of India, inventively pairing these traditional flavors with nourishing, locally-sourced ingredients.”
When chef Jaisinghani says “locally-sourced ingredients,” she is NOT messing around. Her passion for the highest quality of local ingredients goes far beyond a trip to the Farmer’s Market.
During dinner at Indika a few months ago, chef Jaisinghani spoke of the many different aspects of being in the industry. She maintains all that is necessary in doing so successfully. Her philosophy is one shared by her neighbor’s down the street at Feast.
After opening the world’s heaviest door, a wall possessing pink runs beneath two chandeliers, with candles placed perfectly to the side. Pondicheri’s décor is inviting indeed, forcing a refreshing feel as customers approach the counter to place an order.
Excuse me? I’m sorry. Did I miss something? I certainly do appreciate the 7 dollar bills, where’s the… change?
Penny? Yes. Give it to me. AND in the future, if it could produce an actual quarter, you are finished. Over. TKO.
Maybe life has thrown one too many of the ole’ here I go deciding this is my tip, or hey, I just decided you look like the kind of girl that doesn’t like silver in your purse, much less the dreaded… copper.
Let’s not assume each customer is not a coin collector on the verge of setting a collective world record upon receiving only one more cent.
Moving right along…
While walking over to pour a glass of water and pick up some silverware, chef Jaisinghani can be seen sending out dish after dish from the open kitchen. Appearing quite small, she uses her mini work space to make it happen.
Take one look at this woman and it’s impossible not to feel how powerful her talent is. She is, by far, one of the most intriguing chefs in Houston. It’s not often an Indian restaurant, with such a glorious twist, is regarded so highly… times two.
Conveniently located in the “chaat” section of the menu is the Texas shrimp chaat, which jumped off the page during my first visit to Pondicheri. Pickled shrimp, roasted corn, avocado, and black salt are mixed with greens in the very best way.
The “Frankies” section of the menu, which is Mumbai style roti wraps, is served with a house salad or desi fries. Three choices include chicken, beef, or vegetable. The chicken Frankie is slow cooked with tomato, fenugreek, and cilantro chutney, while the vegetable Frankie consists of cauliflower, squash, asparagus, tomatoes, and paneer.
Spinach & corn samosas are prepared filling three triangular shaped pastries with a roasted corn & spinach masala. This is a must have for sure. It’s hard to get past the starter section with so many interesting choices.
Rejoice all burger people, for there are two options at Pondicheri. Cruising past the lamb burger, cough, feast your eyes upon two glorious choices. The fish masala burger is prepared using seared seasonal fish, coconut, chutney, and pickled onions on brioche slices. CURTSY!
Next up is the paneer mushroom burger prepared using paneer, chevre & mushroom cutlet, pickled onions, and tomato kasundi on a briche bun.
Another win is the shrimp chutney salad with cilantro chutney sautéed shrimp, roasted beets, avocado & mango. There are six salads to choose from.
House salads usually cause snoring to occur, but Pondicheri doesn’t hold back. Bibb lettuce is tossed in a jaggery lime ginger dressing with pickled carrots, raisins, pumpkin & sunflower seeds.
Dessert options, such as cookies… some fresh & some “day old,” are available while ordering at the counter. There are also several items offered on the menu.
Sounding beyond joyous is the Bournvita ice cream sandwich with mango ice, nutmeg, and cardamom. Also listed is guava raspberry sorbet with chili & lemon, as well as the always exciting… cookies & milk.
Chef Anita Jaisinghani continues to enlighten Houstonians daily. It’s hard not to bow down to her ultimate chefness. After adding Indika & Pondicheri to the top of their dining-to-do, Houstonians can expect to, and receive, a newfound interest within all aspects of Indian cuisine.
FIVE: High 5!
FOUR: Please & Thank You
TWO: Double Wow
ONE: Wow + Ouch = Wouch