Don’t be fooled by the carefully drizzled, prim appearance of Corner Delhi’s Pomegranate-Radish Chaat. This tidy little rectangular snack is a flavor bomb waiting to erupt, an Indian feast in each bite. Its base is a panisse, a French chickpea fritter that’s crispy on the outside and polenta-like within. Like the Anglo-Indian restaurant that serves it, the panisse has a European influence but a touch of masala gives it an Indian spin. It’s topped with a crunchy layer of peppery radish and tart, juicy pomegranate seeds, which play against that cool, creamy, carefully zigzagged drizzle of raita. The sour-sweetness of tamarind sauce complements the brightness of cilantro chutney, and the whole affair is topped with feathery cilantro leaves and house-made sev, a crunchy Indian snack food made from deep-fried noodles. In short, it’s insanely delicious.
Corner Delhi opened in January 2018 as a celebration of chef/owner Tariq Haq’s Indian ancestry, British upbringing, and culinary career in New York City. He previously ran the kitchens at Palacinka, a creperie on Grand Street, and BarBossa, a Brazilian spot that resided on Elizabeth Street for over a decade. Extreme rent hikes in Soho helped inspire Haq to open a more personal restaurant in Prospect Heights, closer to his home. Corner Delhi is billed as “Anglo-Indian,” which is more of a general vibe than a culinary gimmick. Haq describes his cooking as “honest, traditional, and respectful to the ingredients,” adding, “I wanted to show that you can keep the integrity of Indian food and bring a Western sensibility to the space.”
He definitely brings a Brooklyn sensibility to the drink menu, and Corner Delhi’s solid cocktail list and candlelit environs make it far more date-worthy than your typical Indian joint. We recommend pairing the Pomegranate-Radish Chaat, mentioned above, with the Cheeky Monkey, a potent house cocktail that blends smoky mezcal, orange liqueur, lime, and tamarind in a glass rimmed with chaat masala, a spicy, salty, sour spice blend. Their wine list is on-trend, adding a Greek orange wine to the standard white, red, and rosé. And their tap list offers a couple of local options, including a crisp pilsner and a hoppy, smooth-drinking IPA from Queens brewery Single Cut.
The coziness of the space, which is softly lit by sconces and candles, may lure you into ordering a second round. Haq spent the last decade collecting the antique tin signs advertising British-Indian products (like tea, biscuits, and snuff) that adorn the restaurant’s brick-exposed walls. An original 60’s-era Hindi film poster hangs behind the large bar, and the golden and terracotta checkerboard of floor tiles seems to reflect the colors of the spices that warm every dish.
The entrees here feel more like Indian home cooking than the carefully composed appetizers. In Corner Delhi’s take on classic butter chicken, a yogurt-marinated, free-range, and very juicy organic thigh arrives in a pool of rich tomato curry. Be warned: After one bite, you may never be able to tolerate those cottony chunks of chicken in your take-out tikka masala ever again. In the Malabar shrimp curry, the sweet creaminess of coconut milk balances the deep heat of the chili-glazed shrimp, which arrive perfectly charred by the tandoor oven. Saag paneer, which is embellished with sweet potatoes here, makes the perfect accompaniment to any meal. Fresh, delicious hunks of house-made paneer elevate this comforting spinach dish.
And the melding of European and Indian culinary influences really finds its groove on the dessert menu. You’ll want to save room for the swoon-worthy coconut tapioca, especially if you’re a fan of Bananas Foster. Concentric circles of sticky, thinly sliced, and sweetly caramelized banana slices top ramekin of rich, decadent saffron-spiced tapioca, like an Indian play on crème brûlée.
With all these homey, hearty, inspired spins on Indian cuisine, we look forward to seeing what Corner Delhi does with pancakes and eggs. Haq has yet to set a date to launch his forthcoming brunch menu, but he promises, “When we tackle brunch, the Anglo-Indian influence will be even more evident because brunch is so uniquely Western.” Will Chef Tariq Haq reinvent the full English breakfast, or stir some Indian magic into bubble and squeak? We can’t wait to find out.
Corner Delhi (718-576-3056) is open Tuesdays through Thursdays, 6-10:30pm, Fridays and Saturdays 6-11pm, and closed Sundays and Mondays. It doesn’t accept reservations.