Sometimes a restaurant is born that creates a whole new standard, a restaurant that embraces tradition but appeals to entirely different tastes in a new culture to become a timeless classic.
Tawa is such a restaurant.
Tawa's Chef/Owner Kausik Roy puts it this way;
"Tawa is a very different type of Indian restaurant, one that draws on a deep respect of food tradition and a love for breaking food rules that emerged in me when I was very young.
When I was a small child, I looked at a Okra dish on my father's table in Mumbai and refused to eat it, because it was soggy and slimy and the very worst that the poor vegetable had to offer. A flash of inspiration hit me and I proclaimed then and there, in a very loud voice, that it must be served crispy and spicy.
Some obliging family member humored me, took it into the kitchen and deep-fried it, adding a generous sprinkling of Hari Mirch (green chili). The family loved it and began to cook it for every meal. Karrarri Bhindi was born, I was hailed as a culinary 'genius' at the age of nine and the experience of transforming something ordinary into something irresistible never left me."
After a stint with Mumbai's prestigious Taj Hotel Group as its youngest chef and formal training at Johnson and Wales University in the mid 1990's, that same Okra dish became a mainstay of Chef Roy's kitchens, first in Connecticut's celebrated Coromandel, which he opened in Stamford and New Rochelle to ecstatic reviews and in his own restaurant, Brick Lane Curry on New York's 6th St. (the famous Indian Restaurant street) in the East Village.
"Everyone who is daring enough to cross the gap that separates normal people from Okra," Chef Roy says, "is rewarded by a spicy crunch and the same 'Eureka Moment ' I experienced in Mumbai all those years ago."
With many successes behind him, Chef Roy focused on changing how Americans think about Indian Cuisine and opened the original TAWA in a tiny strip mall on Stamford's busy High Ridge Road. Despite the location, with no parking and almost complete invisiblity, the restaurant became a success.
"The only thing people would find wrong with TAWA," Chef says, "was that it was too small and the parking was too hard. Our customers felt we deserved better!"
He began to look for a place to expand and found a spot on Summer Streett, the most important of Stamford's dining streets, surrounded by great restaurants and central to the City's financial and cultural heart.
"After ten restaurants," Chef concludes with a smile, "I've grown up a little. I don't care anymore that anyone thinks I'm a genius, now I want them to be surprised and entertained by TAWA's food and how we serve it. I want to make people happy!"