Born in Mumbai, Chintan Pandya studied at Oberoi Centre of Learning & Development, one of the most prestigious culinary schools in India. He began his career in a hotel restaurant in Mumbai, learning traditional Indian cuisine and techniques. He also traveled throughout the sub-continent to develop a deeper connection with the way locals ate and became well versed in the bold spices and dishes he came across.
When Chintan left India, his culinary career took him to a diverse set of locales including Singapore, Cleveland, Atlanta, and finally New York. It was in New York that Chintan joined the Michelin-starred Junoon and met restaurateur Roni Mazumdar. In 2017 he became the chef at Rahi, followed by Adda Indian Canteen, where he was the winner of the 2019 StarChefs New York Rising Star. A year after opening, Adda was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award for “Best New Restaurant,” Food & Wine Magazine’s “Top Ten Best New Restaurants 2019,” Eater National’s Best New Restaurants 2019, and Bon Appetit’s “Top 50 Best New Restaurants of 2019.”
In 2021 Chintan and Roni opened Dhamaka, for which Chintan won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef New York State, the first win in this category for an Indian chef. Dhamaka was also named the #1 restaurant of the year by The New York Times, Esquire, and one of the top 50 restaurants in the country by The New York Times. Dhamaka was also nominated for the James Beard Foundation “Best New Restaurant of 2021” award.
In 2022, Roni and Chintan opened the fast casual Rowdy Rooster serving Indian Fried Chicken, receiving a rave review from The New York Times, and inclusion in their Top Ten Inexpensive Restaurants of the Year list. In addition, that year Masalawala & Sons opened in Brooklyn. The restaurant was awarded two-stars from The New York Times restaurant reviewer Pete Wells. They will soon open Kebabwala celebrating India’s long tradition of fresh, and flavorful kebabs.
Chintan’s mission is to push the boundaries of what Indian food means in America. He has partnered with artist Mattia Casalegno in Aerobanquets RMX, a virtual reality experience combining food and fantasy, which took place at the James Beard House, and was SRO at Miami Art Week in 2022.
I grew up in India, eating vegetarian food with vegetable pulao as a regular dish in my home. My mother would start the pressure cooker as we sat down to eat, and the whistle would signal its readiness for us to enjoy as the last course of our meal. This recipe uses chicken pieces, or you can use all thighs. It serves two, but it’s easy to scale the recipe up to use a whole chicken, making the bones into stock, and cooking the pieces in a larger pressure cooker or instant pot.View This Recipe