THELEwala: A Small Place with Big Flavor

There are a lot of things that you can miss if you don’t look hard enough. The right exit on the freeway, the perfect pair of shoes, the exact point where you invest in a company. There are also places that once you find it, no matter how small and easy to miss it is, you’ll never forget about it. THELEwala is such a place, and now that I have been there, I will never forget it!

THELEwala is a new business just south of Washington Square Park that takes on a little-known corner of Indian food: Indian cart food. These are much like the hot dog stands in cities like New York, except that instead of hot dogs, they serve chaatwala and masala chai.

Now, don’t worry, all you health-centric collegians! This place has earned a Grade A in Health Inspection. All of the food is prepared fresh on the spot and never reheated, and all of the chicken served is farm-grown without any hormones and antibiotics.

One of their most celebrated dishes (and by far my favorite!) is the Calcutta Nizami Rolls. This is a tradition from Calcutta, India, and is truly a testament to Indian cart food. It is akin to a wrap, except it utilizes spices traditionally used for Indian cuisine, like coriander and cumin, as well as extra virgin olive oil. Now I have a bit of experience with Indian cuisine, but this is something I have never heard of before, so I had no idea what to expect. Fortunately, Nisar, the manager, recommended to me the Chicken Malai Roll. I chose to take his suggestion, and within a few minutes, I was presented with a modest-yet powerful Nizami Roll.
I took the first bite, and I have to say, I’ve never tasted Indian food so amazing! It was a symphony of flavors, both savory and spicy, powerful, yet not overwhelming.

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As I mentioned, this place is rather small. There is very little sitting room. Don’t let that discourage you, though. All of their dishes are available for takeout, and there is even a delivery service that reaches from 14th to Canal, and Broadway to Hudson. Their hours are 11 am to 2 am, with hours extending to 5 am on Fridays and Saturdays. Delivery is available until 11 pm each night, and is limited to orders with a $10 minimum. Sitting in, when available, is a very pleasant experience featuring authentic Indian décor, popular Indian music, and a well-mannered staff. You really feel like you have a bit of India in a small corner of Manhattan!

And here’s the part all you students are gonna love: all students may present their IDs to receive a 10% discount! There is a coupon for this, but as most students do not own a printer of their own, students are not required to present one. This is a huge plus if, like me, you often find yourself low on funds and in a hurry.

So, would I recommend this place? Definitely! It’s a good place to sit down, enjoy some unique Indian food, and just enjoy your surroundings. It has its own sort of character that I personally love. I am so glad I didn’t miss this place, because I will definitely be coming back.

Sergio Lopez, Polytechnic Institute of NYU, Graduate Student ’12

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