Chutney Joe’s Serving Up Fresh and Healthy Indian Fare


Restaurant owner and chef, Vijay Punani, has spent the last two years developing a concept to bring home-style Indian cuisine with fast service and reasonable prices to Chicagoans looking for fresh and flavorful meals. Vijay opened Chutney Joe’s — which opened its doors earlier this year— with the hope of changing how people taste and experience Indian cuisines.

According to Vijay, Indian cooking follows the ancient system of Ayurvedic medicine, which is a traditional holistic approach to medicine native to India. Ayurvedic teachings say the careful selection and blending of spices and herbs help our bodies become finely tuned physically and spiritually. Turmeric for example, is an antiseptic both internal and external. Garlic is good for circulatory ailments. Cloves tone the heart. Black pepper gives energy. I recently got a chance to sit down and chat with Vijay and find out more about Chutney Joe’s.

How would you describe Chutney Joe’s?

Vijay: Unique. There is no such restaurant that serves authentic Indian food in a quick-service atmosphere. The concept is similar to Chipotle. We serve authentic food prepared fresh daily with a more health conscious ingredients that don’t compromise flavor. We are devoted to good quality food and hospitality. Almost all Indian restaurants either deep fry their food, use cream, Ghee, or butter. At Chutney Joe’s we don’t. Everything is cooked with trans fat-free vegetable oil, low sodium salt and only fresh meats at our restaurant.

How did you come up with the name?

Vijay: I wanted to appeal to not only Indian diners but to the masses. The name Chutney is Indian and I wanted to appeal to the average Joe, thus Chutney Joe’s was born. Ironically, while coming up with a name, Joe the plumber was all over the news.

What inspired you to go into the restaurant business?

Vijay: I just always had a passion for it. Before opening Chutney Joe’s, I opened an upscale Indian restaurant just a few blocks from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India in 1974. I briefly went into the real estate business, but my passion for food never died.

I don’t know how to cook…just kidding. I’m a self proclaimed chef. Most owners in India don’t even step into the kitchen. With my restaurant in India, I spent all my time in the kitchen learning from the master chefs. These chefs have lineage that have cooked for emperors of India and have a lot of experience and knowledge cooking for a royal family.

How did you come up with the menu? What are your signature dishes?

Vijay: The dishes on the menu are created by me. I wanted to make food that is fresh and healthier than what’s typically served at Indian restaurants. Almost all Indian restaurants use paneer, which is Indian cheese but is pure saturated fat. At Chutney Joe’s I’ve substituted paneer with organic tofu because it has the same consistency and is full of protein. We also offer samosas as healthy snacks that are baked instead of deep fried.

We also cook every dish using our house blend of spices and herbs over a long period of time. This cooking process produces its own unique sauce resulting in a full range of flavors.


The menu offers four fixed meat dishes and five vegetarian dishes. There are daily specials available so that everyone has something to look forward to. Our signature dish is the Lamb Rogan Josh, but a popular item on our menu is the Chick Tikk Masala, a common dish in Indian cuisines.

What are some challenges you face as a new restaurant?

Vijay: The idea of this type of restaurant doesn’t exist, so there was no other restaurant to really study. I have been experimenting over and over for two years. Making my idea into reality was challenging. The logistics of providing fresh authentic Indian food and serve it quickly was tough. Before opening, I hosted two big parties to test the concept.

What are your future plans?

Vijay: I created Chutney Joe’s in hopes that it would become a chain. There are two more that will open up in the Chicagoland area and I hope to expand into other major cities in the U.S, as well as London. Eventually I will like to open one in India, which I already have an offer from someone to open a shop there.

Chutney Joe’s, 500 W Madison Street, Chicago, IL

83 thoughts on “Chutney Joe’s Serving Up Fresh and Healthy Indian Fare

  1. Jack Kent

    I’ve got to say that Chutney joe’s is really really good food! I fancy myself an Indian connoisseur and I was seriously impressed. No Ghee?? Get out!!

    The samosa’s were incredible as were the Tandoori Chicken Bites – holy cow… tandoori chicken bits without the bones and stuff? So so so good. My only complaint was that the biryani wasn’t all that.

    However, I don’t believe Mr. Punani when he says there is no paneer in his spinach paneer. I have no proof except my palate and the yummy white cubes were simply too good to be tofu – organic or not. The ruse is up now admit it!

    Thanks again GrubHub for another awesome new meal from one of my neighborhood restaurants that I didn’t even know existed.


  2. Vijay Puniani

    In response to Jack’s comment, yes it is true that we do use Paneer in our “spinach Paneer” dish. Apparently there is a misunderstanding. Number of Indian restaurants has a dish called “Paneer Tikka Masala” which is full of saturated fat because all it has is Paneer and heavy cream. We do the same dish without the Paneer and instead we use Organic Tofu and also we do not use any cream in that. Our Tofu Tikka Masala is very similar in taste and texture to “Paneer Tikka Masala” with the use of Paneer and Cream. Tofu Tikka Masala is one of our weekly special s and very popular among Chutney Joe’s customers. I hope this clears up the misunderstanding.
    Vijay Puniani.

  3. Vijay Puniani

    I just wanted to add that the error was not intentional, matter of fact we call our dish “Spinach Paneer”, the name itself suggests that we use Paneer. During the interview with Lois perhaps Spinach Paneer got mixed up with “Paneer Tikka Masala”.

  4. Pingback: xmmmmmrg83444444444trwx8md

  5. Pingback: cw4xyk5iusy8fn4rwjrtnuyfgw

  6. Pingback: xmdxuyf8x4c5ygniwx4dyf4wcn5gxtdf

  7. Pingback: Ruksis780

  8. Final Game

    This website is amazing. I will tell about it to my friends and anybody that could be interested in this subject. Great work guys!

  9. Hymen Sale

    This is nice! Your website is great!! I will recommend it to my brother and anyone that could be drwn to this object. Great work guys.

  10. Sky Moon

    This website is amazing. I will tell about it to my friends and anybody that could be interested in this subject. Great work guys!

  11. Alesia

    whoah this weblog is great i like reading your articles. Stay up the great paintings! You know, a lot of people are searching around for this info, you can aid them greatly.

  12. Dwight

    hello!,I love your writing very much! percentage we keep up a correspondence extra about your post on AOL? I need a specialist in this house to solve my problem. May be that is you! Looking forward to peer you.

  13. Chin

    Hey very cool site!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your web site and take the feeds also…I am happy to find a lot of useful information here in the post, we need work out more techniques in this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .

  14. Seminars

    You made some decent points there. I looked on the net for more information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.

  15. Dodsbo nynas

    It as not that I want to replicate your internet site, but I really like the style and design. Could you let me know which design are you using? Or was it custom made?

  16. video marketing

    It is really a nice and useful piece of info. IaаАа’б‚Т€ТšаЂаŒаАа’б‚Т€ТžаБТžm glad that you shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  17. CBT

    This excellent website definitely has all the information and facts I needed concerning this subject and didn at know who to ask.

  18. synthetic urine

    This is really interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I ave joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your magnificent post. Also, I ave shared your website in my social networks!

  19. dopey

    It as not that I want to copy your web site, but I really like the design and style. Could you tell me which style are you using? Or was it especially designed?

  20. workout

    Useful information for all Great amazing things here. I am very glad to see your article. Thank you so much and i am looking ahead to contact you. Will you please drop me a e-mail?

  21. leaked album

    It as truly very difficult in this full of activity life to listen news on TV, therefore I simply use internet for that purpose, and take the most recent news.

  22. Jaunita

    Attractive component to content. I just stumbled upon your website and in accession capital to assert that I acquire in fact enjoyed account your weblog posts. Anyway I will be subscribing on your feeds or even I achievement you get entry to consistently quickly.

  23. visit website

    Wonderful blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I ave been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Many thanks

  24. Marg

    My brother suggested I may like this website. He was once entirely right. This publish truly made my day. You cann’t imagine simply how a lot time I had spent for this info! Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.