From the menu and hand-painted murals inside the dining room, to the dish presentations and colorful cocktails, the name Dhamaka, which translates to “explosion” in Hindi, pretty much sums it up. Located just off the Manhattan side of the Williamsburg Bridge and declaring itself as an “unapologetic Indian” spot, here, chef/partner Chintan Pandya and restaurateur Roni Mazumdar—the all-star duo behind lauded places Adda Indian Canteen, Semma, and the newly-opened Rowdy Rooster—highlight off-the-beaten-path dishes from underrepresented regions across India with the goal of transforming what many New Yorkers have come to define as Indian cuisine. The restaurant has been a much sought-after reservation since opening last year. Signature dishes include fried snacks like Beguni (eggplant, turmeric, kasundi); Gurda Kapoora (goat kidney & testicles, red onion, pao): and Rajasthani Khargosh, a whole rabbit special that must be ordered 48 hours in advance.
A hallmark of Unapologetic Foods—led by chef Chintan Pandya and restaurateur Roni Mazumdar—has been to surprise and delight in equal measure with each new venture: Dhamaka (a wonderfully onomatopoeic moniker that translates as “explosion”) pays tribute to the fare of Indian roads far less traveled. Like the available once-a-night only Rajasthani khargosh, a traditional rabbit dish (as in whole); or macher jhol, a baby shark curry native to Bengal; or bharela marcha, a grilled dish of sweet peppers and peanuts that is made in a village in Gujarat. Opened last winter in Essex Market, Dhamaka’s interior displays sunbursts of color with a riot of jagged-edged murals visible through its glass exterior, as a nod to the Indian concept of “jugaad,” the notion that seemingly broken things still hold great value.