New Jersey chicken restaurant blends Nashville heat with Pakistani flavor

CHATHAM, New Jersey -- At Namkeen, a husband-and-wife team has dialed up the heat on Nashville hot chicken by adding a dash of Pakistani spices and flavors - and fans are flocking to Chatham, New Jersey, to taste for themselves.

When the restaurant opened last fall, Usman Chaudhry and Amena Chaudhri had a simple goal: Bring high-quality halal hot chicken to the Tri-State area's dining scene.

"When I opened the restaurant I wanted to introduce my culture and create a fusion that works very well together," Chaudhry said.

It works well together all right, and word got around fast. Namkeen now attracts people from all over the Tri-State area who line up for hours to taste the couple's spicy creations.

Their finger-licking menu includes traditional Nashville hot chicken; the Tikkaville sandwich, which adds a burst of Pakistani flavors; the Dhamaka fries, featuring masala fries, fried chicken, tikka sauce, pickles, coleslaw, and mint chutney; and their Chicken Tikka Mac & Cheese.

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But of all their mouth-watering dishes, it may be their signature Clucking Waffle Sandwich that has everyone talking. It's packed with hot fried chicken, pickles, coleslaw, chipotle aioli on jalapeño, all sandwiched between two cheddar Belgian waffles.

"When you take a bite of the Clucking Waffle Sandwich, you get the sweetness and the spicy flavors of the chicken, coleslaw, and pickles. Many people are hesitant at first, but once they try it they keep coming for more," Chaudhri said.

The couple has been awed by the overwhelming support they've received, especially after opening during the pandemic.

"It was a risky move but I was confident in my business and my style, and it has proven to be a blessing. You come here, you sit down, and you get it fresh, that's the experience that really makes you want to come back," Chaudhry said.
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