Newly opened Baazi in NYC is the latest project from owner / chef Gaurav Anand, one of the few chefs pushing the creative boundaries of Indian cuisine in NYC. Known for Moti Mahal Delux (New York Times 2 stars), Gaurav’s cooking style has evolved into a unique personal vision that weaves in influences and ingredients from the Mediterranean and South Asia to offer unexpected flavors and lighter dishes. Baazi’s menu eschews dishes commonly found in Indian restaurants like chicken masala, instead offering takes on rarely seen ones like Chicken Cafreal and Trout Recheado, both Goan specialties with Portuguese influences, Cod Koliwada fish and chips with Gaurav’s signature okra fries, a papadam-crusted yogurt kebab, tamarind glazed lamb ribs, a take on butter chicken with mushrooms, as well as a spicy goat curry.
The name Baazi (‘bet’ in Hindu) references Gaurav’s decision to take a chance on a different, more sophisticated concept despite the challenges of the pandemic – his other restaurants focus on regional cuisines. Baazi’s menu reflects the evolution of Gaurav’s cooking, spurred by traveling to cater weddings across the globe in Italy, Spain, Turkey, Mexico, and beyond. While still rooted in Indian culinary tradition, Baazi forgoes heavy dishes, hearty flavors and powdered spices, instead coaxing natural flavors out of raw ingredients, e.g. instead of powdered coriander, Gaurav uses whole roasted coriander seeds. Hi-res images: bit.ly/Baaziselects (photo credit Evan Sung).
The full menu is here, highlights:
- Papad Kebab – a non-meat kebab made of fried hung Greek yogurt with papadam lentil cracker crust served in a custom made Baazi box (see below)
- Kali Kachori – urad bean & lentil dumplings, chickpeas, mint, yogurt, topped with charcoal cracker
- Butternut Squash Kofta with sweet corn curry, toasted pepitas and pumpkin oil
- Imli Glazed Lamb Ribs with a sticky sweet spicy tamarind-date sauce, dusted with cumin & coriander
- Prawn Kuzhambu – tamarind based dish from India’s southernmost region, Tamil Nadu, & Sri Lanka
- Chicken Cafreal – Portuguese Goan dish of cornish hen marinated with vinegar chilies and herbs, flambeed with the iconic Old Monk Rum
- Butter Kalan – a vegetarian take on Butter Chicken with local Catskills butter, mushrooms in a creamy sauce
- Cod Koliwada – a play on fish and chips that nods to the town of Koliwada, a well known fishing village near Mumbai, the cod is fried and served with Gaurav’s signature okra fries and Indian spice tartar sauce
- Roast Trout Recheado – recheado is a Goan spicy red masala paste
- Goat Laal Maas – spicy goat curry from Rajasthan in Northern India
- Jalebi Sandwich (dessert) – made to order Indian style sticky funnel cake with masala chai ice cream
Gaurav Anand arrived in the U.S. more than twelve years ago with a dream of making it in New York. Starting with Bhatti Indian Grill, he built a group of three NYC restaurants including New York Times two-star Moti Mahal Delux and Awadh, as well as restaurants in New Delhi and Goa. He also launched his high-end catering company, working on weddings around the world from Mexico and the Caribbean to Italy and France to Turkey. When the pandemic hit, his events were canceled and he spent the time developing new recipes. The two-level space has been designed to evoke a Mediterranean feel with a vibrant blue and yellow palette, Instagram-worthy flower wall, and a live indoor olive tree. A new heated 24-seat outdoor dining area recalls the feeling of sitting in a café in Turkey. There is no delivery or takeout, a first for Gaurav as Baazi is designed to be a restaurant dining experience.
Baazi is now open at 2588 Broadway (near 97th) on the Upper West Side, NYC, www.baazi.us, 646-861-3859.