What to order at Bay Leaf, according to Chef Z, if you’re craving comfort food


Bay Leaf food
Photo by Hannah Chambley for Bham Now

With cooler weather comes cravings for comfort food. And Bay Leaf Modern Indian Cuisine & Bar has the perfect menu full of dishes to warm your soul. Keep reading for five menu picks from Chef Z, Bay Leaf’s executive chef, plus details on dine-in and takeout options.

Meet Bay Leaf’s Executive Chef, Pritam Zarapkar, AKA Chef Z

Bay Leaf Menu Items 22 What to order at Bay Leaf, according to Chef Z, if you’re craving comfort food
Introducing Chef Z, Bay Leaf’s Executive Chef. Photo by Hannah Chambley for Bham Now

Chef Z brings 15+ years of experience to the Bay Leaf kitchen. A transplant to Birmingham from the D.C. area, Chef Z graduated in Culinary Sciences from the Business and Hotel Management School in Luzerne, Switzerland. He has launched over 12 restaurants across Europe and the U.S. and is an expert in Indian, French, and American cuisines.

We caught up with him at Bay Leaf’s 5 Points South location to find out his favorite five dishes and to hear a bit about what makes them unique. Keep reading to see all the goodness Bay Leaf is serving up.

5 Favorite Menu Picks From Chef Z

1. Butter Chicken 

Bay Leaf Menu Items 10 What to order at Bay Leaf, according to Chef Z, if you’re craving comfort food
Can’t go wrong with a classic. Photo by Hannah Chambley for Bham Now

Arguably the most popular Punjabi curry, Butter Chicken is a favorite in both India and America, and it’s no surprise why. The dish consists of shredded chicken that’s covered and coated in a buttery, tomato-based sauce.

Chef Z actually purees premium nuts including almonds, pistachios and cashews to add to the sauce. The chicken is tossed in the sauce mixture and seasoned with garam masala plus more tangy herbs and spices.

“I grew up with these dishes. Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved butter chicken. Every kid loves to have butter chicken in India, although then I liked it mild and now I like it spicy.

We’ve given these traditional Indian dishes a modern twist through both presentation and ingredients by using fresh garnishes on top and premium nuts in the sauce to make it richer.”

  • Gluten-Free
  • Spice level: 🌶️
  • Price: $16

2. Chicken Tikka Masala

Bay Leaf food
A bowl of comfort. Photo by Hannah Chambley for Bham Now

Up there in popularity with Butter Chicken is Chicken Tikka Masala. If you’re familiar with Indian food in the slightest, you likely know this dish well. It’s similar to Butter Chicken as the chicken is covered in a rich and creamy tomato-based sauce, but Chicken Tikka Masala has a few key differences including:

  • The chicken is cubed—not shredded
  • The sauce excludes nuts
  • It is seasoned with select earthy spices, giving it more heat than Butter Chicken

At Bay Leaf, you can choose from seven protein options and your meal is served with basmati rice. So yum.

“The Butter Chicken and Tikka Masala are all-time favorites in India, and I wanted to have them on the menu because everyone in the states loves these dishes.”

  • Peanut Free + Gluten-Free
  • Spice level: 🌶️🌶️
  • Price: Chicken $15 | Lamb $16 | Goat $16 | Beef $16 | Fish $16 | Shrimp $16 | Paneer $15

3. Burnt Chili Garlic Fried Rice

Bay Leaf Menu Items 17 What to order at Bay Leaf, according to Chef Z, if you’re craving comfort food
This rice is calling my name. Photo by Hannah Chambley for Bham Now

One of Bay Leaf’s most mouth-watering dishes is their Burnt Chili Fried Rice. It’s a Spicy Indo-Chinese fried rice best served with Bay Leaf’s Chicken, Paneer or Cauliflower Manchurian. Here’s a look at how the rice is made:

  • First, they toss the rice with red peppers to add a spicy kick.
  • Next, they throw in lots of garlic.
  • Then, they add veggies like green onions, carrots + green peas.
  • Finally, they add a protein and toss in soy sauce + black pepper for flavor.

“The Chile-Garlic Fried Rice is an Indo-Chinese invention, but we’ve altered the taste and flavors to give it an Indian touch. It has a bit of spice, so it’s the perfect dish to warm you up.”

  • Peanut Free
  • Spice level: 🌶️🌶️
  • Price: Chicken $14 | Lamb $15 | Goat $15 | Fish $15 | Paneer $14 | Vegetables $13 | Beef $15

4. Octopus Tandoori

Bay Leaf food
When the meal is almost too pretty to eat. Photo by Hannah Chambley for Bham Now

One of Bay Leaf’s most unique dishes is the Octopus Tandoori. They marinate the octopus overnight for more than 18 hours in a mix that includes cream cheese, yogurt, turmeric and select Tandoori spices.

After it’s tender, they roast it in an Indian clay oven and grill it to perfection. They also serve it with a mint sauce on the side.

*Pro-tip from Chef Z: Always squeeze the lemon on the octopus to enhance the flavor.

“You won’t find Octopus Tandoori if you go to India. It is, in fact, a fusion dish. But I know there are a lot of seafood lovers in Birmingham, so we gave it an Indian and French twist and created a new product.”

  • Peanut Free + Gluten-Free
  • Spice level: 🌶️
  • Price: $15

5. Keto Almond Flour Naan

Bay Leaf food
A side of naan is essential at Bay Leaf. Photo by Hannah Chambley for Bham Now

Hey, keto lovers! Are ya listening? This naan is keto-friendly and we’re drooling. Made purely from almond flour and roasted in an Indian clay oven, Bay Leaf’s Keto Nann pairs perfectly with practically any dish on the menu. 

  • Peanut Free + Keto
  • Spice level: 🌶️
  • Price: $7

Visit Bay Leaf at Their Two Birmingham Locations

Is your stomach growling yet? Thankfully, Bay Leaf has two locations—one in Five Points South, the other off Highway 280. Both are open for dine-in, have beautiful patio seating and offer takeout + local delivery. Order online, or visit their locations for a quick bite for lunch or a cozy date night.

P.S. Mark your calendars for their Diwali celebration happening November 7-14. They’ll have a special menu for the week that you don’t want to miss.

Follow them on social @bayleafbham on Facebook and Instagram for more details coming soon.

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