Chutney Joe's has a good backstory--according to its Web site, co-owner Vijay Puniani was thrown in a New Delhi hoosegow in the 70s for refusing to bribe inspectors to keep his restaurant open, prompting his emigration to the States, and eventually the opening of this new fast-food "Indian diner" in the South Loop. But if the concept sounds prosaic--and the posted definitions of ayurvedic dieting and instructions for eating naan seem unnecessarily hand-holding--Puniani and son should be given credit for not dumbing down the food for potentially timid Loop lunchgoers. The scalable offerings of "slow-cooked" meat and vegetarian dishes (including several vegan options)--all with a relatively impressive level of intensity, complexity, and variety--are available in variable combos with naan and/or rice, accompanied by a half dozen complimentary chutneys. While the lamb rogan josh may not seem tender enough to have been cooked as low and slow as claimed, its curry sauce, thickened with ground almond, is certainly tasty, as is the red bean rajma, which unleashes a sharp, spicy yogurt tang--certainly they're better than they have to be for the captive downtown crowd.
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