There’s a new, airy look at an old Elmsford favorite. Malabar Hill, the institution that sated curry and korma lovers for more than 20 years, is now called Raasa, serving traditional Indian cuisine in a modern setting.
In April 2013, executive chef-owner Shiva Natarajan and his partners closed the popular place to freshen up the décor. It was supposed to take two months. A year later, the restaurant has reopened.
“I was looking for a more cozy feel, an open feel,” Natarajan said, chatting after lunch at one of his wooden tables with sleek, slate-colored placemats and homey Mason jar drinking glasses. “Before, the room was really dark. I wanted it to be more friendly and casual.”
With the help of engineers, architects and veteran restaurant designer Thida Thongthai, he lifted the ceiling at the entrance to nearly roof height. He installed tall windows to draw in sunshine. Mod-style coppery dome lights and birdcage chandeliers dangle amid whimsical wallpaper printed with old photographs, books and Delft pottery.
Old menu favorites abound for diehard Malabar Hill fans, like the naan, kabab, daal, samosas, paneer, korma and saag dishes. Entrees include shrimp, chicken, lamb, fish, vegetarian and vegan options.
Natarajan brought in Amar Singh, a chef who’s worked for him for 14 years among his seven other restaurants, most recently the critically praised Dhaba in Manhattan.
“All the masalas, curries and spice blends, we make them here,” Singh said, adding that he uses ghee, a clarified butter, for rich flavor. “We buy whole spices and grind it here, and we use all fresh vegetables, except for the peas.”
Take the delicate dosas: Whole coriander and curry leaves accent the savory potato filling within the crepe, served with a mild coconut-ginger chutney and a spicy tomato chutney, as well as sambhar, a yellow lentil soup.
Natarajan shares his family recipes — and gives them credit. Taste Aunt Murli’s Chingri Malai Curry, a shrimp dish cooked in coconut cream and light garam masala. And the tandoori red pumpkin starter in a paprika marinade with onion seeds winks at Raasa’s new, fresh twist on tradition.
By Amy Sowder. Twitter: @AmySowder.
If you go…
Raasa Indian Cuisine, 145 E. Main St., Elmsford. 914-347-7890, www.raasany.com.
Hours: 11:45 a.m.- 2:45 p.m. for lunch and 5-10 p.m. for dinner daily.
Great for: Work lunch, Dinner dates, Big Groups, Families, Catering, Delivery, Take Out, $12 Weekday lunch buffet and $15 Weekend brunch buffet.