Wanna get our awesome news?

Subscribe to our newsletter!


Actually we won’t spam you and keep your personal data secure

As the voice of the Indian restaurant industry, we represent the interests of 500000+ restaurants & an industry valued @ USD 4 billion. Whether a chain or independent restaurant, the NRAI is here to help every step of the way. Join us!


Farzi Café opens in Chennai with retro cocktails and inventive kebabs



The popular Farzi Café launches in Chennai. Now in 23 cities across the world, it showcases traditional Indian regional flavours, paying tribute to old memories with a fun, contemporary menu.

Memory can be a powerful appetiser. When Farzi Café opened in Gurgaon in 2014, it aimed to showcase traditional Indian flavours in a contemporary style by harnessing the flair and techniques of molecular gastronomy, then seen as cutting edge. 

It worked. Diners were charmed by the spherification and foams, the smoke and drama. Over the past decade the brand has expanded across the country, with 14 restaurants in India, Chennai being the latest opening. There are also nine abroad, including in Dubai, London and Washington, with New York and Istanbul next on the list.

The success has a lot to do with the meticulous thought process behind the food. Farzi Café is a part of Massive restaurants, which includes Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra, Made in Punjab, Papaya, Botai and more. Managing director, Zorawar Kalra, is the son of the legendary Jiggs Kalra, a chef, food columnist and arguably one of India’s OG influencers. Farzi café’s Chennai franchise partners are Lakshman Venkatasubramaniam, Velu Prasad, Sidharth Ninan and Ashwin Ninan.

Today, although molecular gastronomy seems dated, Farzi’s food continues to charm diners because it still hinges on classic flavours, childhood memories and good old fashioned drama. The expansive new Chennai restaurant, which seats about 200, is a calm oasis of golden lighting and lush fiddle leaf ferns set in the heart of the city.

Katy Perry thuds from the powerful sound system and a set of cleverly positioned fans keeps the outdoor seating suitably breezy. We try the cocktails, which are a touch too syrupy, not that anyone seems to be complaining. Like the ‘chuski’ margarita, which includes an ice lolly that will take you back to the playground, the cocktails are reminiscent of simpler times.

Our waiter PA Nagaraj, is determined to make the evening memorable and promises us a ‘magical dish’ – in true Farzi style. Channeling David Blaine, he appears with a platter, which he then proceeds to set aflame with a casual swagger. No spoilers here – but I will say the theatrics do make dinner fun.

The menu is comprehensive, offering a taste of some of India’s most popular dishes, which probably explains why it has been such a hit abroad. There are kebabs and tikkas, most of which have been ‘Farzified,’ adding a twist to make them unique. Hass avacado chaat with beetroot gel, for instance, or arancini made with ‘dal-chawal’ and served with pickle, papad and chutney.

We try the hearty basil, coriander, chilli kebabs, which have pleasingly crisp, browned edges. As a nod to the South, there are a fiery set of starters inspired by regional spice blends — the Guntur chilli chicken, speckled with curry leaves and mustard, is the perfect excuse for a second, or third cocktail. We also try the pizza, which is fairly standard.

The menu is sensibly designed, offering mains that work as complete dishes, which means a single diner can have a full meal without having to order too many items, and groups can try a larger variety of dishes. Here too regional comfort food reigns – so there are popular meals like butter chicken teamed with naan, and mutton pepper fry with Malabari parottas, but also, lotus leaf kofta and Kashmiri chilly korma served with lacha parathas and a wholesome bowl of prawns Alleppey curry on steamed rice.  

We conclude with Parle G cheesecake, which is a hit across Farzi Cafés for a good reason. It cheekily fuses memories of the past with a dessert for ‘the gram’, by using this underrated, iconic biscuit. Served in a pool of milk custard reminiscent of ras malai, the creaminess of the cheesecake is interspersed with an unexpected crackle of chocolate gems, pivoting on the power of familiar flavours that remind diners of simpler times.

Recommended for you