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Chettinadu Indian Cuisine - Southern Indian (Chettinad)-Based Cuisine with Some Northern Curry Dishes - Hungerford Drive in Rockville

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Our family is from Maharastra (west-central India) so I didn’t grow up with the north Indian/Pakistani food common in this area.  We’ve been trying different south Indian restaurants because the flavors are closer to what I’m used to.  I learned of this restaurant from Tyler Cowen’s website.  We’ve gotten carryout several times now (they give a 10% discount if you do carryout and pay with cash).  The Chettinad region is known for its cuisine so I was eager to try the food.  I highly recommend this restaurant; the food has been consistently delicious.

The menu has some North Indian standards but we’ve stuck with the southern dishes.  Among our favorites are kozhi varuval (boneless chicken in dark spices), ennai kathirikai kuzhambu (small eggplants in an oniony tomato sauce), dal tadka (remarkably tasty rendition of this humble dish presumably owing to the generous amount of ghee), and Chettinadu kothamalli chicken curry. 

We always ask for "spicy".  In the south, people use a lot of hot peppers.  To my taste, Chettinadu’s spicy is just right- a lot of heat but it doesn’t prevent my enjoyment of the other flavors. Recently, we dined in because we wanted to try the dosas.  We had three: chilly/onion; paneer; and masala.  They were served with three sauces: tomato; coconut; and mint as well as sambhar.  The dosas were good, though I prefer the “paper” style.  The sauces were fine but the sambhar was outstanding. I’m glad we went. 

Besides getting to try the dosas, we got to see an Indian “aunty” in action.  Indian aunties don’t have filters and cause embarrassment and amusement around them.  This one explained in detail to the young waiter how one is supposed to make dosas (use more ghee among other things) and she offered to go to the kitchen to show the cook what to do.  When that didn’t work, she asked the waiter to have the cook come out “just for a minute” so she could tell him.  Unfortunately, the chef was busy filling orders for the now-full dining room.  Her embarrassed son paid the check and gently tried to lead her out of the restaurant.  On her way out, she stopped at a table to give the diners a critique of her meal. 

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2 hours ago, DonRocks said:

I don't make a habit of this, but let me talk with Vinod before you go - I want to make sure you get *his* Chicken Chettinad (or at least something resembling his).

He won't be the one cooking it, but certain cooks are better than others, and I want to see which night (and which restaurant) you should go to.

I heard back: both dishes at both restaurants ... "identically same, made with the same recipe!"

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Chettinadu is celebrating its 2-year anniversary by offering 20% of purchases of $20 or more on Saturday July 22nd.  They are also offering "Chettinadu's Best Special Thali Ever". 

Unfortunately, they don't seem to have enough kitchen staff to handle the weekend rush.  Last Friday, I waited over an hour (8-9:15) for our takeout order and I saw some people eating-in who had been waiting around that long.  This was comparable to the amount of time I waited on a Saturday night.  I suggest going earlier on weekends (before 7). 

The food was delicious.  They do something with takeout orders that I haven't seen done elsewhere- they wrap the containers in plastic wrap to help keep the lids on and sauces from spilling into the bag.

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I just tried this place for the first time on Friday, going there at 1pm intending to sit down for lunch but finding every table occupied opted for take-out instead.  We enjoyed everything we ordered...very different flavors from the typical north Indian dishes you find in places around here.

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We had lunch here on our "work from home" day last week.  The chicken thali platter is certainly a good bargain, but next time we'll simply get a full order of the Chicken Chettinad instead.  Dosa is ginormous and pretty much has to be eaten right away or else it gets cold quickly (or maybe because it was freezing inside the restaurant, my only real complaint about the meal).

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