Area Info / Chai Pani Restaurant

Indian Restaurant Asheville NC

Chai Pani Restaurant

Indian Food in Asheville NC

Downtown Asheville NC has recently seen an influx of globally-influenced restaurants. I had the opportunity to sit down with Molly and Meherwan Irani and speak to them about their amazing Indian restaurant Chai-Pani, which opened Wednesday, September 23, 2009 in Battery Park. The co-owners are lively and passionate about their Asheville restaurant and take pleasure in the culture of Indian street food that they helped bring to Asheville NC.

Indian Street Food at Chai-Pani

The goal of Chai-Pani is to offer affordable Indian food in Asheville NC that is light and fresh. All over the world, Indian street food vendors have been serving quick and affordable yet delicious food to patrons much like the American hotdog stand did in the early twentieth century. While Chai-Pani is far from a cart on the side of the street, they still offer an authentic street food experience. The interior is decorated with metal work that is painted in a way to reflect the culture on the streets of India. One panel appropriately boasts the phrase, “From Bombay to Buncombe”, which in many ways accurately characterizes the dining experience at Chai-Pani.

Chai Pani Restaurant

The Culinary Roots of Asheville NC Indian Restaurants

The majority of Asheville Indian food finds its roots in the Northern Indian culinary tradition. Co-owner Meherwan Irani explained that only experiencing the Northern culinary offerings of India is much like only eating pizza and claiming to know Italian cuisine. Chai-Pani offers authentic Indian dishes that have originated from all over India. The menu at Chai-Pani draws not only from the Northern tradition but also from the less represented East, West and Southern Indian traditions. Chai-Pani takes the form of what is referred to as a Chaat House in India. A Chaat House is an establishment that offers quick and casual food for people on the go. Much like Spanish tapas, the portions are kept small in order to allow for a tasting of the different offerings. At Chai Pani, anyone will be able to find the amount of food they want for a price that is affordable.

Indian Food with a Southern Twist

Before Chai-Pani opened in 2009, Meherwan's mother, Amrit, came from India and carefully explained proper techniques for mixing spices and preparing the dishes authentically. With over 40 years of experience in cooking home style Indian food, Amrit shared her invaluable secrets for the creation of food that is authentic, healthy and fresh. The smells emanating from the freshly baked chickens and ground spices in the kitchen are fabulous. All the food is prepared fresh from scratch with a careful attention to quality, authentic preparation and quick service, which explains why quickly after opening they became a favorite Asheville restaurant.

Chai Pani Restaurant

The Meaning of Chai-Pani in Asheville NC

The name Chai-Pani is derived from a double meaning that the phrase has in India. Literally, Chai-Pani signifies a type of tea and coffee house. The term also refers to a gratuity that one would give to someone in return for his or her services. It can also be translated to mean a little extra money so that one can pick up a small snack. By offering low-priced yet quality foods, Chai-Pani embodies all the meanings for this word and provides something a little extra.

Locally Grown Asheville Indian Food

In keeping with the community-based tradition of Indian Chaat houses, Chai-Pani is also deeply entrenched in the local community of Asheville NC. In addition to refreshing Indian-style teas and other drinks, Chai-Pani also offers a selection of local beers is specifically paired with the food in order to properly compliment the flavors. In addition to local beers, Chai-Pani will pairs wines by the glass with the different dishes at affordable prices.The Asheville restaurant incorporates both locally-grown produce and humanely-raised local meats into their menu in order to keep their food fresh and interesting.

Something for Everyone at this Indian Restaurant in Asheville NC

One of the main goals of Chai-Pani is to offer an accessible and affordable authentic dinning experience. The food is based on clean, simple flavors that won't leave you with a greasy, overloaded stomach. There will also be a kid's menu that has been kid-approved! The space is intended to provide a lighthearted atmosphere that showcases the Indian-American fusion style. The Asheville restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating so that your Indian street food may be properly enjoyed on the streets of Asheville. The owners wish to capture the fun experience of encountering a new culture in an affordable and lively environment that is close to home and worldly at the same time. This is one Indian restaurant in Asheville NC that will have something for everyone.

See the photos of Chai-Pani Asheville Restaurant