Welcome to Masala World
Authentic, accessible, affordable Indian cuisine
When owners Anand and Sulekha Kumar opened “Masala World” inside Summit Mall food court, 3265 West Market Street Fairlawn, they committed to offering only authentic Indian cuisine at affordable prices.
Indian food has gained worldwide popularity because of its spicy, hot and flavorful taste. Indian curries are famous for their smell and depth of flavor. Until Masala World, the choices for good, authentic Indian food in Greater Akron were limited to select, high-end restaurants, which are not accessible to everyone.
Anand’s favorite menu item is Tandoori chicken. “I love it because it tastes so fresh and juicy, has tons of flavors and is very low in calories,” he said. To prepare the dish, pieces of chicken are marinated overnight with yogurt and Indian spices and then roasted in a clay oven at a very high temperature that locks the juices inside. Tandoori chicken is ideal for people on low-carb or low-sodium diets.
Chicken tikka is the most popular non-vegetarian item at Masala World. According to Wikipedia, it is also one of the most popular Indian dishes in the world. Chicken tikka eases people into the world of spices gently, said Anand. Medium pieces of boneless chicken are cooked in a creamy sauce with Masala World’s signature spices in a mix that includes cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, paprika, ginger, garlic and cilantro.
Samosa is the most popular snack item, said Anand. A triangular-shaped fried pastry stuffed with a savory filling of potatoes, onions and peas, samosa is so popular that more than a billion samosas are sold worldwide every year.
Just as important as their flavor, spices and herbs have many medicinal benefits including anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, anti-cholesterol, aphrodisiac, stimulant and mood-enhancing properties, according to scientific research, said Anand.
At Masala World, Sulekha, who is a master of Indian cooking, chooses from more than 40 herbs and spices in preparing her creations. She is one of the youngest Indian chefs in the Akron-Cleveland area. Sulekha has developed her culinary skills through hard work, trial and error, and self-education. She has perfected the recipes passed on to her through generations. What’s more, she maintains the authentic integrity of her preparations while modifying Indian recipes to make them healthier. By reducing fat, oil and salt content, she delivers more flavor and nutrients per calorie.
“We want Indian food to be more easily accessible to Americans, so that they can enjoy fresh food that is high in nutrients and taste and still relatively low in calories,” said Anand. Featuring an open kitchen, Masala World even makes the process of food preparation accessible.
“The skill of our chef and unique blend of our spices make our food so flavorful. Unlike other restaurants, we don’t have to rely on extra salt, sugar, fat or cheese to make our food tasty,” he said.
“We make all our dishes to be very mild even for American tastes. We also offer hot, spicy chutney that patrons can add to their food to make it hot, or they can eat it with our yogurt mixture, raita, to make it even milder,” said Sulekha. Her favorite menu item is a spinach and tofu dish cooked with Masala World’s secret spices and herbs. “It is one of the healthiest items we have on our menu,” she said.
“People who have tried it for the first time cannot believe that spinach or tofu can taste so good,” said Anand.
For the undecided, Masala World offers customers free samples of all menu items. Based on which ones they especially like, they can order two entrees with rice for just $5.99.
“Indians have been aware of the health benefits of spices and herbs for many centuries,” said Sulekha, whose methods and modifications now extend those health benefits to American diners. Her promise: “Customers are our guests, and we will go to any length to make them feel welcome.”