Pardeep Sharma watches carefully. About 12 years ago, the then-owner of India Palace watched his fast-casual, concise and modern concept unfold on McKinney Avenue, noticing that his customers stuffed the baked naan with creamy chicken tikka masala as they dived into their meals. Casual eating usually encourages hand-held dishes, so Sharma incorporated his idea into Roti Grill's menu.
The chicken wrap can be classified somewhere between a sandwich and a naan taco for a giant. It stretches the limits of the definition of what’s a wrap, surely, but that’s why it's great. It's also one of the best deals in Dallas: a grill-charred chicken sandwich, the size of the moon, for $7.50.
“Young people live in that area and they’re on a budget — they cannot spend $20 on lunch,” Sharma says, chuckling.
Chicken is marinated overnight in yogurt, garlic, ginger and a bit of garam marsala and kisses the grill the next day. The charred chicken gets a toss in masala sauce, a blush tomato base with cream, richness from ground cashew nuts and “about 15 other spices” that will ring the comfort bell in your mind. Peas and potatoes are folded into the grilled, sauced chicken before it's covered in melty American cheese.
There’s a sense of modern, succinct cleanness to the restaurant. Everything is pay-up-front, and the kitchen hums, dishes flying out while customers dip triangles of naan into pinkish-red sauces. The chicken wrap is a dish that eats, folded heavy in your hand, like the taco you made at home after last call, like something fresh and Grandma-made. The garlic and grilled chicken and soft potatoes will warm your ears as if you just went inside from the freezing cold.
Next week, Pardeep Sharma evolves his wrap idea. In the Legacy Food Hall opening Dec. 6 in Plano, you’ll find the Bristol Naan Wrap. It's like Sharma's Roti Grill wrap grown up with a tweak or two. You’ll find thinner, more tortilla-like bread, blistered on a upside-down wok. There will be short rib wraps, chicken tikka and vindaloo if you’re looking for more heat.
“Everybody wants hand-held food,” Sharma says, and he’s not wrong.
Roti Grill, 4438 McKinney Ave.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.