Owned by executive chef Anish Nair, Jai Ho Indian Kitchen & Bar and Jai Ho, a chef-crafted Indian Kitchen are modern Indian restaurants with French inspiration and inventive fusions.
Jai Ho Indian Kitchen opened in 2017 in Midtown and serves updated takes on traditional recipes. The restaurant features an outdoor patio with neon art near the Atlanta BeltLine and Piedmont Park in an expansive, window-lined dining room. The high ceilings, lush tangerine drapes, and honey-colored clear globes are awe-inspiring and not what we have come to expect from casual Indian decor.
Jai Ho is “off the beaten path” at the dead end of Dutch Valley Road. There are several adjacent easily accessed parking spaces, which is now becoming a welcomed relief in Midtown.
Early last year, Nair opened a second location, Jai Ho, a chef crafted Indian Kitchen inside Krog Street Market in Inman Park. The 550-square-foot quick service food stall serves a rotating menu of Indian-fusion street food and sandwiches for lunch and dinner.
Jai Ho’s Dutch Valley menu calls up cuisine common to the former French colony Pondicherry in Southern India. Pondicherry is a tourist destination and represents a central marketplace, hailing back to both Dutch, Portuguese, French and British influences. Some Jai Ho sauces are prepared according to French recipes updated with Indian ingredients. Spices are roasted in-house and blended into French mother sauces such as espagnole, a French tomato sauce, prepared with coriander, cumin and cardamom and mirroring a tikka masala sauce.
At the original location in Midtown, learn to pronounce vindaloo, an Indian curry dish with vinegar and tangy spices, and biryani, which was known as a dish for the royals and involves slow braised long grain basmati rice with garam masala, caramelized onions, cumin, peppercorns, sometimes rose water and saffron strands. Then there are tangy sauces with mustard and curry leaves. The bar is chic South Beach-like with an ultraviolet blue base. There is an extensive wine, craft beer and cocktail menu. Dessert specialties are Gulab Jamun Pie, Pistachio Kulfi and Rice Kheer, which we did not sample.
What we ordered for “pandemic friendly” pickup:
Chickpea salad: thinly sliced red onions, loaded with garbanzo beans, juicy lemon hunk, light dressing.
Mulligatawny soup: Our best dish – not too salty, intertwined herbs, lentils pureed with vegetables.
Kurkure Bhindi: Fried okra slivers — toasted and crispy, not in the healthy column.
Bang Bang Gobi: Cauliflower, onions, peppers, batter-fried topped with a sweet chili garlic sauce. Vegetables were firm and fresh but hidden by so much breading.
Garlic Naan: Two “pizza” sized pieces, great for folding and dipping, wafting with intense garlic.
Aloo Gobi: Potatoes and cauliflower in a tomato base with cumin and ginger. The dried red pepper provided a wow kick! Overall complex combination.
Our entrée was Cochin Seared Snapper – So fresh the tiny teeth are biting. Have to be very careful separating bones throughout. Flesh was white and firm.
For next time:
Hot lemon pickles
Nigiri Fish Korma: Salmon prepared with coconut, poppy seeds and turmeric.
Dal Makhni: Seasoned black lentils and kidney beans.
Fish in banana leaf (salmon or tilapia based on availability) wrapped in banana leaf, garam masala, garlic and fresh coriander.
The menu is easily categorized: starters, veggie lovers, sides, biryani, specialty breads, noting what contains gluten and levels of spiciness.
The Krog Street Market has a focus on Indian street food such as aloo bonda, chickpea-coated potato dumplings; samosas, crisp pastries filled with seasoned potatoes and green peas; Indian cajun-seasoned chicken wings; and added new menu items including smoked gouda chicken sandwich with Indian spices and mango chutney, and chicken pot pie with potatoes, green peas, curried bechamel sauce and deep-fried bread.
Jai Ho Indian Kitchen & Bar is located at 560 Dutch Valley Road near Ansley Mall. Hours are Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, noon to 10 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 9 p.m.