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  • Writer's pictureArul Nigam

Choolaah: A Hidden Jewel in the Indian Diaspora!

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

“Nut-Free” and “Indian Cuisine” are phrases rarely found together… but Choolaah Indian BBQ has made this dream into a reality.

The irresistible aroma and vivid flavors of Choolaah will transport you to Ancient India, as the mouthwatering cuisine brings Indian culinary traditions to life.

An extraordinary combination of meats basted with authentic spices, bathed in a creamy sauce will excite your palate as you indulge in one of our all-time favorites – the Chicken Tikka Masala!

Feast lavishly on the chicken, paneer (cubes of cheese), salmon, and succulent lamb straight from the tandoor.

Salads? Wraps? They’ve got everything!

An array of uniquely spiced vegetarian options made from fresh produce and masterfully seasoned will entice you.


Experience a bloom of the spices in the finger licking good Biryani.

To indulge in folksy street food of India, go for the Samosa Chaat or Pav Wow aka Pav Bhaji!

As you sink your teeth into the soft yielding center of the Samosa, savor the flavors that flow through your mouth. The pep and zip in every bite of the street food will leave you craving for more!

The flaky, buttery fire roasted flatbread – the naan – is a taste sensation in itself.

Try the probiotic mango drink that nurtures your health while delighting your palate –  “Dahilicious” Mango Lassi (dahi in Hindi meaning yogurt). Craving something hot?

How about some Chai?

Dessert? Yes please! A rich, creamy frozen dessert, the malai kulfi is the pièce de résistance.

“Choolaah” is a beacon of excellence that beckons you to partake in a culinary experience of traditional Indian legacy! And the best part? Everything on the menu (except the Chickpea Noodles, which may be cross contaminated because they are not made in-house) is nut–free – so have whatever your heart desires!

We were fortunate to have had the opportunity to speak with Raji Sankar, one of the co-founders of Choolaah, to learn more about the past and future of this wonderful restaurant. Get the answers to all your questions below:

How was Choolaah born?

We grew up eating real food. Amazing flavors. No artificial preservatives or colors. Something you could eat everyday. This was a dream born in 2003 that saw reality with the first Choolaah in 2014 in Ohio. In 2017, we opened two locations in VA and Philadelphia. We are both engineers with finance backgrounds who have always had a love for food. One of the biggest things that attracted us to this industry was how food brings people together. We wanted to create some extraordinary options and career paths in the food industry to make something very special that creates a lifestyle and livelihood for our team members.

Mission of Choolaah?

Choolaah is about real food, exquisite flavors that are served with joy and create joy in a fun, hip, upbeat, and happy environment. The joyful experiences allow people to come together for any occasion.

Are you nut-free?

We are nut free except for the crispy chickpea noodles that go on the samosa chaat. Since they are store bought we can’t guarantee no cross-contamination.

What inspired you to make such an accessible dining space for people of different dietary requirements?

Choolaah is for everyone. We have friends, family, and our own team members who have different dietary needs. It’s something very close to our heart. People can have all these amazing flavors and try everything – and they love it! It’s a party of flavors! Whether it’s gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, protein-heavy we have options for everyone. Often times families of individuals with dietary restrictions are limited in their choice as well. We are proud that our food not only helps the individual, but is even able to bring families together.

The design of the restaurant is incredibly unique and really transports you. How did you come up with this concept?

Our brand promise is fresh, fun, hip, and real food in a joyful and welcoming setting. We want to bring this promise to life in every aspect of the restaurant. We want to create memories for everyone. If you look at the hand wash, for example, it’s a great way to delight kids. You don’t have to go to the restroom, it uses less water, great for the environment, and it’s cleaner. On top of that, in Indian tradition it’s customary to wash hands before and after the meal – this is a great way to bring in this tradition with a modern appeal. You don’t even have to tell kids to wash their hands in our restaurant, in fact they may be over doing it!

Any plans of expansion?

We’d love to see Choolaah in every corner of the world. The mission is to be able to offer real food like this, with amazing flavors at everyday prices in a joyful setting to everyone! That would be amazing. The future is full of possibilities.
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