Patrons of Cafe Matt & Meera on Washington Street in Hoboken, NJ, might feel a sense of serenity when they sit down to order. It could be due to the relaxed yet stylish atmosphere, the casual professionalism of the staff or it could be the good vibrations emanating from the kitchen, created by the cafe’s Chef and Tandoori Grill Guru. His name, fittingly enough, is Karma.
Originally from India, Karma comes by his even temper through years of study and personal experience—before becoming a professional chef he was Buddhist Monk for 17 years. Seven years ago his mother became ill and the medical bills were rapidly piling up. With his three brothers also being Buddhist Monks, Karma decided to put his Mother first and left the Monastery in order to help support his family—trading in his monk’s robes for a cap and apron.
He initially apprenticed with a prominent chef and soon moved on to several Indian restaurants before landing at Cafe Matt & Meera in September 20102, bringing his repertoire of delectable Tandoori dishes with him. “We’ve worked together at another restaurant for several years,” said Vanita, Cafe Matt & Meera’s front of the house manager, “He never gets excited, no matter how hectic things get in the kitchen…and of course he’s an expert Tandoori Chef.”
For those of you unfamiliar with the cuisine, Tandoori cooking is done in a cylindrical clay oven (a tandoor) set in a metal frame over a source of heat. Among the culinary treats Chef Karma prepares daily are: Tandoori Jhinga, a dish of jumbo marinated prawns; Murg Tikka, featuring fenugreek flavored boneless chicken; Mint Paneer Tikka, a fresh marinated grilled cheese with peppers; Fennel Lamb Chops; and his signature Tandoori Cornish Hen, which is quickly becoming a Matt & Meera favorite.
As you might expect, Chef Karma is a humble man of few words. Happily for us, his cuisine does the talking for him.