During lunch, Tikkawala, 1258 W. Jackson, serves a limited menu aimed at its immediate neighbors, the Chicago Police Training Division and Whitney Young High School. Around noon, you’re likely to see an officer in uniform sipping mango lassi. This is when you'll find saag paneer ($9), along with a thoughtful version of chicken tikka masala ($14), packed with juicy charcoal-grilled chicken in a tomato sauce that's far more intricately spiced than bland and creamy versions around town. Discover a fried chicken sandwich ($9) topped with mint chutney, along with a chicken seekh burger ($8), a play on a traditional Indian ground meat skewer. Inspired by the prevalence of Japanese robata grill restaurants in Chicago, the two chefs installed a charcoal grill that allows them to dish out their interpretations of Indian street food. Start with the lamb chops. For $6, you get two thin charred chops topped with what the shop refers to as Desi-chimi.
Chola bhatura at Tikkawala is a dish of stewed chickpeas and spiced tomato-and-onion gravy, served with fry bread.— E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune, Aug. 20, 2018
While it looks as brown and basic as beef stew, lean in close and a wild assortment of spices will infiltrate your nose— black and green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, cumin and a few more are in the mix. Dig in, and you'll encounter cubes of lamb, each one precisely tender and juicy in exactly the same way.— E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune, Aug. 20, 2018
Grilled shrimp ($5) is worth trying, topped with some of the "Desi-chimi," a take on chimichurri made with mint, ginger, garlic and cumin, and paired with a cooling mango and apple salad.— E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune, Aug. 20, 2018
At Tikkawala, the new project by friends Hiran Patel and Sahil Singh in the West Loop, the saag paneer is bright green, with discernible leaves of spinach and, unexpectedly, kale in the mix. A topping of pickled onion provides a shock of yellow and a hit of acid, while kachumber, a mixture of tomato and cucumber, looks and tastes like finely chopped pico de gallo.— E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune, Aug. 20, 2018
Without a doubt, Tikkawala, at 1258 W Jackson Blvd., is one of the most exciting new Indian restaurants in Chicago. But you should know right up front that the restaurant is quick-service, so calibrate your expectations.— E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune, Aug. 20, 2018
Tikkawala has been a long time coming for friends Hiran Patel and Sahil Singh. The two met while working in Veerasway, a fine-dining Indian restaurant in the West Loop that closed in 2012. "We were both in the back of the kitchen talking one time," Patel says. "We decided: We have to do this for ourselves."— E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune, Aug. 20, 2018