A Look into Jalwa Modern Indian Cuisine, New to Montclair

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Being a restaurateur is in these brothers’ blood. Akshay and Arnav Jhanjee grew up in the restaurant business, starting at their dad’s Indian restaurant, Bukhara Grill, in Manhattan. The brothers opened their first restaurant together in New Jersey in 2011, and it took off from there. In 2020, they finally had the long-awaited opportunity to expand to Montclair. Read on to learn more about the Jhanjee brothers’ newest culinary venture in Montclair located at 215 Glenridge Avenue, Jalwa. 

The Jhanjee Brothers Come to Montclair

jalwa

(Photo credit: @ourjalwa)

The two brothers grew up in and around restaurants their whole life, working in their dad’s Manhattan restaurant since they were teens. They opened their first restaurant together in 2011.

In 2020, brothers Akshay and Arnav Jhanjee sold their Indian restaurant in West Orange. After that, people started to travel from Montclair to their other restaurant in Ridgewood (because it really is that delicious), and the brothers knew the time had come to open up a restaurant in Montclair. Fast forward to February 2021 and Jalwa was born. 

jalwa

(Photo credit: @ourjalwa)

Because people were traveling to Ridgewood, the brothers realized that there weren’t many Indian restaurant options in Montclair. “I saw the gap, and Montclair was always on my bucket list. I wanted my first restaurant to be in Montclair, but for 10 years I could never find an ideal location,” Akshay explained. “So when I saw the void and I got a location… I was kind of like ‘oh…it was a 10-year dream to be in Montclair itself.

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Of course, 2020 and 2021 were not booming years for the restaurant industry, but starting with a following from their other restaurants put Jalwa at an advantage.

Opening During a Pandemic

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(Photo credit: @ourjalwa)

In February 2021, Jalwa opened its doors as Tamasha – a time when people were starting to do more takeout but were still cautious about both indoor and outdoor dining. But Akshay said he and his brother weren’t going to step down from a challenge. 

“It was challenging, as far as taking a risk, because obviously the exposure level you get when it’s 100% capacity, before everything, (was) totally different. But because we had the support from Ridgewood and our fan following from West Caldwell, we were able to target our audience and let them know, ‘Hey we’re opening.’” 

It also gave them a chance to soft-open and take their time getting some of the interior of the restaurant ready. Now, Jalwa is open for inside dining, too.

jalwa

(Photo credit: @ourjalwa)

But the name Tamasha didn’t stick around for long. In April 2021, the name switched to Jalwa. Tamasha has a dual meaning in Indian. It can mean a grand affair, but it also can have a negative connotation that means “what’s going on here?” or ‘what’s wrong here?” 

While the original name was meant to be associated with the positive meaning of the word, the owners decided that the name Jalwa was more fitting. “Jalwa means positive attitude and charisma, and that’s what we wanted to go with for the restaurant,” Akshay explained.

The Menu

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(Photo credit: @ourjalwa)

The menu offerings at Jalwa are different from their other restaurants. While all of the preparation is authentic across the board, Jalwa’s menu has a slightly more modern feel to it. There are some innovative items on the menu, including 12 different types of naan that range from classic garlic to truffle oil goat cheese. 

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(Photo credit: @ourjalwa)

According to Akshay, some of the can’t-miss dishes are the Palak Chaat, Methi Paneer Malai Toast, and Butter Chicken.

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Two menu items of particular significance are the Pandara Road Wala Butter Chicken, which is a staple of the Jhanjee brothers’ hometown of Delhi – and the Bukhara, which uses a 43-year-old family recipe from their father.  

jalwa

(Photo credit: @ourjalwa)

At Jalwa there is a concentration on barbecued foods, such as lamb chops, seafood, and kebabs. All entrees are served with basmati rice and can be made mild, medium, or spicy. As with most Indian restaurants, there are plenty of vegetarian options, but Jalwa goes a step above by marking vegan items on their menu and adding a disclaimer to ask their servers about gluten-free options. 

Now with restaurants in Montclair, Ridgewood, and West Caldwell (the restaurant they sold in 2020 is now theirs again), you have to check out the Jhanjee brother’s Indian cuisine – especially Jalwa.

You can stay up to date with the latest happenings by following Jalwa on Instagram at @ourjalwa.


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Brooke is a native New Yorker who moved to Cedar Grove with her family and has loved every minute of it. She enjoys the escape of her weekday corporate job in the city to the quieter, but still lively, Essex County. On nights and weekends, she can be found exploring the neighboring towns with her husband and daughter or curled up on the couch with her dog and a book. She also binge-watches way too much TV.