Sometimes, you don’t miss something until you have it again. That’s how it was for us at Chutnify, an Indian restaurant in Berlin that originally specialised in South Indian fare but now serves everything from paneer masala to samosa chaat.
The brainchild of India-born Amrita Aurora, Chutnify has two outposts in Berlin and one in Lisbon. We visited the Prenzlauer Berg restaurant for dinner, and ended up having authentic Indian fare and delicious, creative cocktails to go with it all.
Chutnify is immensely popular with non-Indian Berliners as well, who tend to go for the well-balanced thalis. We were in the mood for something more individualised, and ordered the Mysore masala dosa and samosa chaat for starters.
While we waited for the order to arrive, we took in the interesting decor of the restaurant. There’s an al fresco seating area, little bar at the entrance, and indoor seating with visual references to Indian culture. But really, the best part was a bookshelf full of Indian comics like Tinkle and Chacha Choudhary! Once we discovered those, we were lost in the world of childhood tales.
One wall was stacked with curious drawers but they held nothing inside! Pretty lamps and dhaba-style tables and chairs completed the restaurant’s unique ambience. And then, the food arrived.
Dosas are slim and crispy Indian crepes made of a fermented rice and black gram batter. This version came with a coating of molaga podi (red chilli and lentil powder), spiced potato filling and four different accompaniments: sambhar, tomato chutney, coconut chutney and a super-spicy concoction that made our ears sing! The dosa tasted great, as did the sambhar, tangy and replete with vegetables just like you’d find in South Indian restaurants.
However, the samosa chaat impressed us more with its perfect melange of textures and flavours. Broken up samosa pieces had been seasoned with coriander and date chutneys, yoghurt, chickpeas, pomegranate seeds and sev (slim, fried gram flour). We were afraid that it would be a watered-down version but it was exactly like what you’d get in the streets of Mumbai – sweet and spicy with a burst of tang!
We washed down these fantastic dishes with two rum-based cocktails. Sassy Lassi was a thick and delicious amalgamation of mango lassi (a preparation of watered-down yoghurt, sugar and mango puree), coconut water and the classic Old Monk rum. It was like tasting Marine Drive on a sultry summer evening. Pyaasa packed a punch with white rum, green chillies, ginger, lime and spices not meant for the faint of heart!
And then it was time for the main course – a Kerala-style paneer masala with huge chunks of Indian cottage cheese and bell peppers simmered in tangy, spicy gravy of coconut milk, tomatoes and onions. We mopped up the mouth-watering curry with Malabar parotta, another Malayali specialty. The layered parathas (Indian flat breads) are as wonderful as naans, if less known. We had no room for dessert and decided to try two more cocktails instead.
The tequila margarita, a simple combination of tequila, cilantro and lime turned out to be the more tantalising of the two cocktails. Kachumber Cooler was the better looking though, and a good choice for gin lovers. Cilantro, chilli, cucumber and lime complimented the gin wonderfully.
Find Chutnify at Sredkistrasse 43 in Prenzlauer Berg and Plugerstrasse 25 in Neukolln. They are open for dinner all days except Wednesday, and on weekends, you can head there for lunch as well. Apart from the dishes mentioned in this post, we also recommend their cheese dosa, masala chai, and Malabar chicken curry for the meat lovers. Dishes are priced at €5-9 on average and will easily serve two people. Cocktails start at €7.
Big thanks to Chutnify for inviting us and making this review possible! If you want your restaurant reviewed, write to Ankita@trailstainedfingers.com.