The Yellow Chilli in Buena Park is Sanjeev Kapoor’s first U.S. outpost of his Indian restaurant empire. Kapoor—who is Martha Stewart, Wolfgang Puck and Oprah Winfrey rolled into one in India—has a cooking show that’s the longest running program of its kind in Asia, a line of appliances, lucrative brand endorsements, publications, even a food channel of his own. So his face on the restaurant’s marquee signals to the Southern California Indian diaspora that he has landed in their back yard. A full-page picture declares the lalla mussa dal one of its best-selling dishes, and I could see why. The black lentil-based stew was slow-cooked on a low fire until the legumes surrendered all their silkiness; the resulting consistency was somewhere between chowder and full-fat refried beans. What I liked most though, was how its slow-and-steady chili burn simmered in my mouth the entire night.
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