The extensive menu at Jalwa – Hindi for Charisma – offers many tried and true favorite Indian specialties, plus several unique small plates, all prepared with a creative and contemporary twist. With plenty of beautifully executed dishes featuring chicken, lamb, goat, seafood, and vegetarian fare, it is indeed an omnivore’s delight.
Jalwa’s lunch prix fixe specials, offered Monday through Friday, include an entree, basmati rice, choice of naan or roti, and dessert of the day. Priced at $9.99-$11.99, it’s definitely a delicious deal. Roti rolls with masala fries are also an appealing option.
We ordered take out for Sunday night dinner, and Jalwa did not disappoint.
Jalwa appetizers are some of the best we’ve had in a long while – vegetarian samosas (3 to an order) filled with delicately spiced onion, potato and peas were in an especially light and tasty pastry crust. Venturing for something new, the beetroot tikki and palak chaat each merit their own award:
Beetroot tiki, shaped like a crab cake, is a tender goat cheese and beet mash patty with a lightly fried crust. Palak chaat is a pretty dish, composed of creamy spinach, topped with chopped tomato, onion, two chutneys, yogurt and pomegranate. We found it surprisingly light, and super tasty. Think of it as the Indian version of 5 layer dip.
Next we sampled an old favorite – chicken tikka masala, with grilled chunks of chicken in a medium-spiced creamy tomato sauce. Another new (for this family) was baingan bharta, described as charcoal grilled buttery eggplant cooked with ginger and cilantro, tomato and onion. This dish won a round of applause even being slightly higher on the heat scale. I would liken this to a warm spicy baba ganoush curry. But if you are a fan of the tandoor clay oven, look no further. There are 14 charcoal grilled dishes coming out of a traditional clay oven. Seeking lighter fare, we opted for the grilled vegetable platter which included paneer and grilled pineapple.
The garlic naan, always a winner, was delicious as expected; a stuffed bread – onion kulcha – was also flavorful and filling. The 14-item bread menu goes far beyond, offering many variations of paratha, roti, and naan stuffed with chili, raisin, cherry, and even truffle oil goat cheese.
One nice feature for home cooks – Jalwa sells several of its signature simmer sauces, chutneys, and relishes to go.
Prices are reasonable, especially since portions are very generous. One entree can easily feed two people. When ordering, you may want to specify the desired heat factor – we forgot to do that and several dishes, although delicious, were at our heat limit. Ice creams, puddings, pastries and dumplings tempted us for dessert, but that will have to be for next time. Yes, there we will definitely be coming back for more.
Jalwa, 215 Glenridge Ave, Montclair, 973 250-6364. Dine-in, outdoor dining, take out, delivery
Lunch and dinner 7 days a week.