It is highly refreshing to see an Indian eatery step outside of the box and bring something to Orange County that’s never been seen or tasted before (of course available all over Artesia/little India). ADYA, a new restaurant at Anaheim Packing House and brainchild of Chef Shachi Mehra brings a host of chaat, or Indian street food, to the fore. Gone is the heavy, cloying Indian fare most people are accustomed to eating, and then falling into a food coma for several hours afterwards. In its place, fresh, clean flavors I have only found while living in Asia, and in the homes of my Indian friends.
The informal, casual, relaxed atmosphere is indicative of this style of food, although in India, you would be standing on a street corner battling heat and swatting away a few flies here and there. Here, you can enjoy your meal on the patio outside, or in the various little nooks and crannies the Anaheim Packing House has provided for you to comfortably situate yourself in.
We begin with a variety of chaat (literally translated as “lick” because once you eat it, you’ll want to lick your fingers and your plate) to whet our appetites. I am well familiar with Bhel Puri ($5) a puffed rice munchie usually sold in newspaper cones on the street. Diced cucumbers, tomatoes, dry mango and puffed rice which will make you believe you’re eating something familiar, like cereal due to its texture.
Pani Puri ($6) are little parcels consisting of bite size hollow puri (an unleavened fried bread) filled with chickpeas and potatoes. A vessel of spicy tamarind water is provided for you to quickly pour some into the opening and immediately pop into your mouth — WHOLE! Do not attempt to take a bite, it’ll be extremely messy!
However, I think the favorite is Chickpea Chaat ($6), with the group naming it “Indian nachos”. This dish is the perfect combination of textures and flavors in one bite. You get the soft, crisp, salty, tart, hint of sweet, from the spiced chickpeas, tamarind and yogurt. Every bite is perfection, and you have an entire bowl of it to savor.
One of my favorites is Lamb Seekh Kebab ($10), cumin seasoned ground lamb grilled on a skewer in the tandoor oven. Tender, flavorful, the accompanying mint chutney adds a refreshing finish on the palate.
Although I enjoy the flavors of the Vindaloo Chicken Pav ($6) tremendously, it is a new experience for me, eating an Indian “sandwich”. This Bombay style sloppy Joe uses an OC Baking Company bun and topped with spiced pulled chicken with a hint of vinegar and chiles — you can feel the heat creep up slowly towards the end.
For those of you reluctant or not adventurous enough to venture outside your comfort zone, there are daily curries and vegetable dishes to choose from. Old Delhi Style Chicken is light, possessing no cream (the way I like my curries), while Dal Makhani (lentil stew) is tender and perfect for vegetarians. I suggest making your meal a thali (+$4) with a side of naan or rice, raita, dal, salad and pickles included.
And on to the topic of sides, the Avocado Raita ($3) is to-die-for. Chef Shachi has put her twist on the traditional cucumber yogurt accompaniment by adding avocado and cilantro. The result is a smooth creamy avocado spread you won’t be able to resist.
Of course, who can say no to naan? Garlic/Butter Naan ($4/$3) is prepared fresh in the tandoor oven and brought piping hot to your table.
True to its name, ADYA (pronounced ah-D-yah) meaning “the first”, will hopefully pave the way for more chefs to step outside of the area’s comfort zone and bring lesser known culinary delights to Orange County.
Want to try ADYA for yourself? I have a $25 gift certificate to giveaway to one lucky reader. Leave me a comment and tell me about your experiences with Indian cuisine and why you want to try ADYA. Don’t forget to leave your FULL name! Winner will be announced Monday June 9th.
at Anaheim Packing House
440 S Anaheim Blvd
Anaheim, CA 92805