The two sides of a Conshohocken diner

June 25, 2013 7:57:15 AM PDT
You won't find diners everywhere in the U.S., but the Delaware Valley abounds with these culinary treasures.

Most offer standard American fare with a twist or two. But 401 Nirvana in Conshohocken is different.

It has an American staff serving American breakfast and lunch. When the lunch service ends, the place shuts down and transforms itself and serves the foods of India.

Owner Nabin Chhantyal and Chef Jagmeet "Happy" Singh oversee both menus.

One kitchen staff does the diner classics while another prepares authentic Indian dishes. Many Indian foods are prepared in a "tandoor", a hot ceramic cylinder in which most foods are cooked vertically.

Fats tend to run off, and the end result is healthier eating.

Many Americans mistakenly believe that Indian food is all peppery-hot. Some dishes do use hot pepper, but the flavors of India are built from other familiar seasonings, like cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, garlic and ginger.

The 401 Nirvana's kitchen has plenty of hot pepper if you want it. Like many Chinese restaurants, they allow each individual patron to specify how much or how little spice they prefer.

Indian-Americans enjoy the restaurant's ethnic offerings. They recently catered an Indian wedding all the way out in the Harrisburg area with a thousand guests. But the staff finds Americans reluctant to move beyond the flavors they already know.

As a result, the kitchen has developed some American-sounding chicken dishes with a hint iof Indian spice. Patrons who try them tend to want more.

The 401 Nirvana is open daily for breakfast at 7:00am and keeps largely American through the end of lunch service at 2:30pm...3:00pm on weekends.

There's a daily lunch special priced at just $9.95. Then they close until 5:00pm, when they reopen with a different staff and an Indian menu. That's served Sunday through Thursday until 9:30pm...10:00pm on Friday and Saturday nights.

Chicken Tikka Masala, Britain's favorite Indian dish, is always featured. Chai Masala Tea is a popular beverage choice with subtle Indian flavors.

401 Nirvana is located at 401 Fayette Street in downtown Conshohocken, just blocks off the Schuylkill Expressway. It's BYOB.

For information or reservations, you may phone them at 484-351-8029 or visit online at 401 Nirvana.


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