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Pondicheri's chickpea fried chicken is a gluten-free winner

Pondicheri's chickpea fried chicken is a gluten-free winner

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Photo by Sarah Rufca
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Pondicheri Pondicheri
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Whether it's a celiac diagnosis or a commitment to a healthier diet, committing to a gluten-free lifestyle isn't without its drawbacks. (Hey, anyone who can't kick back with a six-pack of Hoegaarden has my sincere sympathies.)

So it's nice when a forbidden food is revamped and served up gluten-free and better than ever. That's what Pondicheri has done with fried chicken, a special served on Tuesday nights only in portions that feed two and cost $25.

Of course, fried chicken is accessible to home cooks simply by using gluten-free flour for the breading, but Pondicheri opts for chickpea flour, adding a bit of South Asian flair. The fried chicken comes out moist and juicy and full of flavor, just like the kind you grew up with, but ever-so-slightly crispier and not greasy.

From there it's improved by the dipping sauce, a swirl of traditional Indian cilantro chaat mixed with a tzatziki-like yogurt sauce. The combination, both refreshing and unexpected, was so addictive I had to take home seconds for use on pita chips, burgers, and anything else I could think of.

The fried chicken is served with forgettable curried potatoes and a nice blueberry salad with goat cheese and field greens, but I suggest ordering it with the desi fries, which are also fried in chickpea flour and deliver a spicy kick from cayenne.

Health food this isn't, but the subtle infusion of Indian flavors kicks up an American classic in a fun and unexpected way. The gluten-free thing? That's just a bonus.