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.
is such a restaurant.
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.
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.
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."
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."
2005, With many successes behind him, Chef Roy
focused on changing how Americans think about Indian
and his partner J.P. Agarwali, started humbly
and opened the original TAWA in a tiny strip mall
on Stamford's busy High Ridge Road in 2005. Despite
the location, with no parking and almost complete
invisiblity, the restaurant became a success.
"The only thing people would find wrong with
TAWA," J.P. says, "was that it was too
small and the parking was too hard. Our customers
felt we deserved better!"
two began to look for a place to expand, and with
the demise of Ocean 211 in Stamford 2008, the
ideal location to make their customer's wishes
come true was suddenly theirs. The restaurant
had been a popular destination on Summer Street,
the most important of Stamford's dining streets,
surrounded by great restaurants and central to
the City's financial and cultural heart.
The Bread Bar and Upstairs
"When we began to visualize a new TAWA, we
decided we wanted to create both a casual and a
formal dining experience to defy expectations of
the cuisine and to expand people's overall understanding
and enjoyment of Indian food.
Summer is a small, two story building that is perfect
because it offers areas for those two experiences,
an upstairs location for quiet, formal dining and
a street level space that was perfect for lighter,
more fun cuisine with a casual European flair."
it was that TAWA and its two restaurants, TheBread Bar and Upstairs, came to
be. After 9 months of renovation, a new kitchen
and a nearly complete reconstruction, the "perfect" location
is finally finished and open for business.
The Bread Bar is a place to meet
and greet, with bar stools and an open kitchen
that allows people to watch the creation of their
food, mingle and enjoy a light snack, finger food
and small plates with drinks or wine by the glass.
just that, an "upstairs" dining experience
that is refined, elegant, and mysterious. A space
for Chef Roy to continue his quest to change attitudes
by creating magical dishes that alter how his customers
think about food.
"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!"