Now Arriving: California Chutney Tandoori Kitchen

An assembly line take on Indian food, complete with chutney bar

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 | 5:28 pm

Now open on Raymond Avenue in Old Pasadena, California Chutney Tandoori Kitchen offers a Subway Sandwich approach to Indian food—but that’s not necessarily a dig.  I took a visit yesterday to see what they had to offer.

The restaurant features an extremely open layout; all the moving parts are visible, from the tandoori oven to the proteins warming in vibrant cast-iron pots to the toppings.  The menu offers a basmati rice bowl option, a salad bowl, and what I fondly refer to as the “naco,” or simply a piece of fresh baked naan folded in half to form a taco.  The menu refers to them as “Cali Naan,” but henceforth in this story they shall be named “nacos.”

The fillings for your bowls or nacos range from two types of chicken, tandoori shrimp or steak, braised chickpeas, or paneer tikka, which is a type of marinated Indian cheese.  I chose the braised chickpeas, seeking a vegetarian option.

Obviously, I ordered a naco.  It’s a little small, to be quite honest, however they did not skimp on the fillings.  There are lots of options there, too, from lettuce to pickled shallots and cucumbers, cilantro, bell peppers, and chili oils.

Once you get your dish, you can head over to the chutney bar where they offer most of what’s on the assembly line.  They say they have 6 types of chutney, but one of them is actually more like raita, a cucumber yogurt sauce.  Semantics aside, I grabbed some of that and some of the mango chutney to drizzle on top of what was already an overflowing mountain of toppings.

Have you ever seen the episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza has a wallet that is so packed with business cards, receipts, and scraps of paper that it reaches its limit and spews its contents onto a wet New York City street?  That’s kind of what my first bite was like.

I fought through and scooped up the fillings with a fork, feeling a little embarrassed at my lack of etiquette, but in the end I liked my meal.  The naan was very fresh and so were all of the ingredients.  The chutneys had enough flavor to stand out against the pickled condiments and the chickpeas were hearty enough to make me full after one naco.  And it’s novel enough that I will want to try it again.

If you’re iffy on Indian food, why not give California Chutney a try?  There’s something there that everyone will like.

California Chutney Tandoori Kitchen is located at 45 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena.  For more information, call (626) 396-6947 or visit


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