Rooh joins new wave of Indian restaurants popping up in Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new wave of Indian restaurants has been popping up in Chicago recently. Not to be confused with all-you-can-eat buffets on Devon Avenue, these are in high-rent areas, with classically-trained chefs making dishes inspired by classics, but often reinterpreted. And that's the case at our food reporter's latest find, on West Randolph.

You can tell pretty quickly Rooh isn't your old school Indian restaurant. The interior design, the plating, even the ingredients - just check out the generously shaved black truffles covering a puffy, homemade kulcha that's accented with goat cheese and pea shoots. The owners wanted to make a statement about Indian food, first, by choosing a high-visibility location.

"We believe in learning from different parts of India and bringing that cuisine further because it's about Indian cuisine," said Chef Sahil Sethi. "So why not put Rooh on the map in Chicago where the good restaurants are."

EXTRA COURSE: Steve takes a look at one of their excellent - and vegan-friendly - desserts, made with cashews.
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Steve takes a look at one of Rooh's excellent - and vegan-friendly - desserts, made with cashews

Most beginners have had tikka masala, or butter chicken. But in Sethi's hands, a slow-simmered red pepper makhani serves as a complex base for the blistered chicken, which gets accents of butter powder and fenugreek, not to mention tweezer-applied fresh herbs.

Grilled branzino gets a waterfall of creamy Benghali mustard cream laced with cilantro, poppyseeds and coconut. Keema pav is a popular street snack in India. Here, it's gussied with homemade brioche that's dipped into a robust curry jammed with peas and minced lamb.

Vegetarians have plenty of options too. Jackfruit is formed into spherical fritters, set into a pool of verdant green spinach sauce.

"Jackfruit is new to the United States. People have been seeing it, but nobody explains what it is. It's more of a meaty fruit. Once it ripens, it is fruit by itself. If it's unripened, it becomes a vegetable. So you deep-fry it becomes the texture of pulled pork," said Sethi. "It's about taking our cuisine to the next level and making sure we are at par with any other cuisine in the world."

736 W. Randolph St.
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