Indian-inspired pizza – who can resist?

Roost-&-Grills

The Roost & Grills restaurant quietly opened to the public in December.

by Nadine Dawson

Four friends began a new venture in Old Ottawa South: the Roost & Grills restaurant that quietly opened to the public in December. Owners Krishnakumar, Hundlani, Rappai and Kumar developed and perfected their menu in anticipation of a summertime grand opening, when they throw wide the doors and invite neighbours and family to sample the delicacies they have designed.

The four met in Kochin Kitchen and decided to create something unique inspired by their common birthplace, Kerala Province in India. They dreamed of opening a restaurant focused on grilled chicken unavailable elsewhere in Ottawa.

With the help of Kijiji, they located the perfect cozy spot from which to grow: 1202 Bank Street. When they discovered the space was already outfitted for pizza, they thought, why not? And it is just this spirit of adventure that has led to their signature dishes: chicken marinades of Middle Eastern and Southern Indian origin cooked to tender perfection on a grill imported from Portugal. Throw in Indian-inspired pizza and they had the makings of a cuisine that couldn’t be found anywhere else.

But first, they had to learn how to make pizza dough. In fact, they spent three months doing just that – testing and tinkering every night until they produced a crust to their satisfaction. And though they offer “traditional” pizza of the tomato and pepperoni variety, they created a Margarita with spinach sauce, a Butter Chicken Lovers with, you guessed it, special butter chicken sauce, and the spiced-up Southern Vindaloo, a meat-lovers’ delight with their signature vindaloo sauce. Fancy a Butter Paneer pizza? This may be the only place on earth you can find it.

Their specialty, though, is chicken. The Emirati is brined in spiced yohurt and lime and encrusted with an Arabian marinade, the Classic Grilled is soaked overnight in Kerala-inspired spices, and the Grand Tandoorian masala features Kashmiri chilli and tumeric. Whether roasted or special grilled – steam on the bottom, gas heat on the top, and flipped often – the chicken is tender and delicious.

The sides are also unusual. The spiced rice is made from the tasty jeera rice, the coleslaw and salad tossed in house-made dressing, the potatoes baked in black pepper and parsley with a lemony flavour. Finger foods include Red Nuggets, Piri Piri Paneer, Crispy Chou-fleur, Roost Fries and Wings – all of them gluten-free and seasoned with Roost & Grills’ specially developed spices and dips.

Krishnakumar, Hundlani, Rappai and Kumar have big plans. Soon they will begin delivery services and their website (www.roostandgrills.com) and Facebook page are up. But that’s just the beginning. They dream of inspiring a new line of franchised restaurants, fusion-style. If you like unusual flavours, you might consider visiting Roost & Grills soon.

Nadine Dawson is a teacher and artist who lives in Old Ottawa South.

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