Bindaas, which translates to “cool and carefree” in Hindi slang, opened to much acclaim back in August of last year. The Cleveland park restaurant is a project of James Beard Award winning Chef Vikram Sunderam and Ashok Bajaj, the team behind the renowned DC restaurant Rasika.
What to Expect at Bindaas
What sets Bindaas apart from Rasika is that the menu is focused more on Indian-style street foods. These items that are much less common throughout the US, yet are cherished back in India. The restaurant itself follows suit with a more casual and cool aesthetic. It’s not trying to be too luxurious or fancy, but meant to be more comfortable and relaxed. Kacy and I hadn’t had Indian food in ages and were ready to reunite with one of our favorite cuisines.
The menu is separated into Chaats (savory snacks), Kathi Rolls/Paos (wraps/buns), Shashliks (kebabs), Machalee (fish of the day), Uttapams (rice pancakes), and of course Naan. I had received some intel to focus as much on the chaats as possible. This was an easy recommendation to follow since there were many delicious-sounding offerings. We proceeded with one of our favorite moves – ordering more food than needed and taking a doggy bag home for leftovers.
What to Order at Bindaas
We started off with the masala popcorn, seasoned with coriander and cumin – easily one of the best popcorns I’ve tasted. I immediately told Kacy that I wanted to buy this by the tub if possible. We then tried the cauliflower chili pakora. We enjoyed the lightly fried chaat masala breading and pickled onion chutney that added a touch of sweetness.
Our next dish is possibly the most famous dish from Bindaas, the golgappa. These are light and airy crisped puffs that are filled with avocado and sweet yogurt atop a tamarind chutney. They are light, creamy, tangy and just a little bit sweet. I can see what the hype was all about with these – they were just a lot of fun to eat.
Next up was the bhel puri, which consisted of puffed rice, mango, mint, and cilantro. This dish had a great texture and the perfect combination of sweet and spicy flavors. Like many of the dishes we had during this meal, it would make the perfect afternoon snack.
For our lone meat dish, we ordered the crab idiyappam. This dish had delicious crab meat sitting on top of string hopper noodles that was all covered with a coconut milk sauce. The sauce was a pitch perfect pairing with the crab meat and I made sure to wipe the plate clean of it.
Don’t Forget the Carbs
We supplemented our chaats with the sweet corn-pepper uttapam and the spinach paneer naan. They arrived right out of the pizza oven, served warm to our table. The uttapam was a bit larger and had nice, lighter flavors coming from the corn and pepper. The naan was cut in half to expose the stuffing. Although a tasty naan, the spinach flavor was stronger than the paneer flavor and I would have preferred the reverse.
A Sweet Ending
Since we packed half our meal to take home for some killer leftovers, we had just enough room left to try one of the desserts. We chose the sticky pudding cake that was a chocolate cake topped with vanilla gelato and sat on top of a toffee sauce. It was a solid dessert, but a slight step back from the more intense flavors we enjoyed from the savory dishes.
All in all our venture back to Indian food was a great success. We were reunited with the unique flavors that you can only find with this style of cuisine and Bindaas was able to provide them in a more casual atmosphere and with a lower price point to boot. The leftovers didn’t last long in our fridge and we already started to look forward to a repeat visit sometime soon.