Fragrant Indian spices waft out the doors of this small restaurant in Plano, possibly luring in the unassuming passerby inside. Don’t be tricked, though; you’ll need reservation days in advance just to get your foot in the door. And there’s a reason why.
The Yellow Chilli
is the proprietary brainchild of Indian chef Sanjeev Kapoor, well-known across the world for his appearances in television shows, cookbooks and movies alike. Affectionately referred to as the “best,” “most-talented,” and “most-famous” chef in India, Kapoor decided in 2001 to open the first location of The Yellow Chilli in the U.S.
The Yellow Chilli in located in the Shops at Legacy in Plano.
Twenty years and 80 outlets later, he’s making his mark in Plano. Located in the Shops at Legacy, The Yellow Chilli is “redefining Indian food,” per the sign over the door anyway, with an aim to fuse traditional Indian foods with more modern recipes and methods of preparation. Take, for example, the chicken tikka and avocado salad, a dish that blends the traditional dish with a creamy avocado-vinegar salad to give rise to a satisfying mix of both flavors and cultures.
With such an eclectic menu, it’s hard to resist the urge to try some of everything. For appetizers, make sure to order the mixed vegetable platter, a plate that comes with individual-sized portions of all of Kapoor’s most famous appetizers.
The appetizer sampler
The appetizer sampler includes four pieces of clay-oven-baked paneer; two marinated in a red chili-garlic paste and two coated in a mint-chutney marinade. The paneer slices are accompanied by Kapoor’s renowned potato tikkis, deep-fried potato and cheese patties. Adding some more cultural diversity to this plate are three spring rolls with grated carrots and potato stuffed into a crispy phyllo dough.
Unfortunately, there’s no such sampler for the main menu. With prices starting upwards of $18, the tough part is choosing just one. If you’re seeking a meaty fix, go for the puran singh da tariwala murgh, a creamy chicken curry inspired by one made on the Delhi-Ambala Road in Delhi. Much like the other plates here, the popular chicken-based dish features a delicate dance between flavors from local towns of India and Sanjeev Kapoor’s own cooking techniques.
Shaam savera is a good vegetarian option.
For a vegetable-based entrée, order the shaam savera, crumbly cottage cheese dumplings floating in a creamy tomato-based bed of curry.
All entrées are served with a heaping plate of rice to best suit your mixing preferences. If you prefer dipping, ask your server about the bread basket: a sampler comes with Indian breads filled with cheese and dried nuts. Dip sparingly, though. Portions are small — and prices expensive.
End your meal with the gulab-e-gulkand, a unique take on the classic Indian dessert, gulab jamun. Made of milk solids and flour, the popular Indian sweet is served deep-fried, soaked in syrup and topped with fresh saffron gratings. What’s unique about The Yellow Chilli’s version is a sweet core of rose petal jam hidden in the core. Once again, two unlikely flavors intermingle creating a dish explosive with not only flavor but culture.
Sanjeev Kapoor is indeed making his mark on the scents, sights, and character of Plano’s growing food scene. It’ll likely only take one sniff of The Yellow Chilli’s kitchen to reel you in for a redefined Indian restaurant experience. Just remember to make a reservation first.
The Yellow Chilli, 5700 Legacy Drive, Plano. Open 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.–10 p.m. Friday, noon-3 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. Sunday.