At the Table

How Maneet Chauhan Does Hot Chicken

The Perfect Bite

After her first star turn on Chopped in 2011, Maneet Chauhan was inundated by offers from potential partners to open a restaurant in big cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and…Nashville? “I was like, ‘Where the beep is Nashville?’” the Indian-born chef is fond of saying. “But I came here and just fell in love.” One of the deal-sealers: That most spicy of the city’s institutions. “Hot chicken had a big influence on me moving here. It’s the epitome of the perfect bite: the texture, the flavor, the juiciness,” she says. “It just blew my mind.” So naturally she came up with an Indian spin on the chicken that lured her South for the menu at her first Music City restaurant, Chauhan Ale & Masala House. Crispy, spicy chicken nuggets tossed in ghost pepper sauce, hot chicken pakoras are a mashup of Chicken 65—a snack from the South of India where she went to cooking school—and the Nashville classic. Five years and four restaurants later, Chauhan still makes the dish for her family, only now she cuts up a whole chicken to fry instead of nuggets— proof that she’s more Nashvillian than ever.

Maneet Chauhan’s Hot Chicken

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