Is Indian BBQ the Next Big Thing? 

by Peter Candia
Indian BBQ

The idea of Indian BBQ is nothing new. Clay tandoor ovens have been used for over 5,000 years to cook various foods, but at Sigri Indian BBQ in North Brunswick and Newark, NJ, they’re bringing a whole new meaning to the age-old cuisine. 

Sigri BBQ is a fast-casual, build-your-own Indian restaurant specializing in tandoor-roasted meats, vegetables and other proteins. The name Sigri comes from a coal-fueled stove, often found in North India, that has been used to cook since ancient times. Sigri stoves are still used today and are especially popular in areas where gas stoves are not the norm. 

The concept was started by Utkarsh Yadav in 2018 when he opened Sigri’s flagship location in Newark, NJ. However, conceptualizing the business was years in the making. Yadav moved to the US in 2010 to pursue college at Rutgers University. After graduating, he completed a Masters Degree from NJIT. To pay his way through school, Yadav worked in several Indian restaurants between New Jersey and New York. And while his education had him heading down a totally different career path, food kept calling him back.

He began research in 2016 into bringing a new kind of Indian restaurant to New Jersey. Yadav wanted to tap into a market that he felt was on the cusp of blowing up. Indian food is prevalent in pockets of New Jersey—Edison, NJ, even has one of the highest percentages of Indian residents in the country. However, outside of these pockets, the cuisine has yet to truly take off. So, Yadav sought to solve that problem by employing a concept that was accessible, healthy and, of course, delicious.

Indian food in NJ

Kathi roll | Photo courtesy of @sigri_bbq

He explained to me that a lot of the food at Sigri is inspired by the street food that he grew up with in India. “Why is street food so popular?” Yadav asked me, “it’s because it’s always fresh.” This was something I actually never thought of before. Street food is often some of the tastiest food you can find when traveling the world, and because a majority of street food carts lack the proper equipment to store food for days on end, they are required to always use fresh ingredients. 

Yadav then combined this idea with his years of experience cooking in restaurants. What he came up with was a build-your-own spot that utilizes the freshest ingredients he can get his hands on. This means tandoori chicken, salmon, paneer, lamb and veggies that are roasted fresh multiple times daily—customized hundreds of different ways with Sigri’s salads, chutneys and complex sauces. Yadav also wanted the restaurant to be completely accessible to different diets and cultures. Along with being 100 percent nut-free and halal, there are plenty of gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options to choose from. 

In 2018, along with investor Jagat Parikh, his dream became a reality and Sigri Newark opened its doors. Four years later in 2022, Sigri North Brunswick joined the brand. 

Sigri Indian BBQ

At either location, diners choose between established entrees like the kathi rolls, which come filled with a protein, salad and chutney or kebabs, which come with skewer-cooked meat, fish or paneer and a side of rice, salad and chutney. However, many choose to make their own creation. Platters and bowls allow you the freedom to customize your meal however you like. 

First, choose your base. Sigri offers greens, grains and three kinds of rice: Basmati, curry lime and the Sigri rice, which is cooked with saffron and fried onions. After you decide on a base, you move down the line to the proteins. Want paneer and chicken? No problem, Sigri will do half and half. 

indian BBQ

A spread of food at Sigri Indian BBQ | Photo courtesy of @sigri_bbq

Many opt to top their meat or veggies with the classic butter sauce, a tomato-based sauce infused with spices and ginger. While butter sauce is no doubt delicious, I implore you to look beyond what you may know. The chole is a rich combination made with slow-cooked chickpeas, while the creamy greens are just that—spinach, fenugreek and peas simmered in luscious cream. No matter the sauce you choose, everything at Sigri is packed with layers of flavor and spice. 

Speaking of spice, Yadav looks to put a common misconception about Indian food to rest: “Indian food is just too spicy for me!”  To counteract this all too common claim, he made certain when developing Sigri’s menu to allow guests to create their bowl, platter or wrap however they see fit. If you like spice, they’ll finish your meal with a healthy dose of their house-made hot sauce. 

The platters, in particular, are a true deal, landing you not only your own created dish, but also a side of naan and a samosa. Choose between plain or garlic naan—get the garlic, trust me

@sigribbq Naan-stop PERFECTION!🫓💥Watch the magic unfold as our garlic naan emerges from the tandoor😍 📍 North Brunswick, NJ #naan #garlicnaan #naanbread #tandoor #indianfood #njeats #njfoodie #northbrunswick #northbrunswicknj #njrestaurants #newjerseyeats #newjersey #nj #newbrunswick #newjerseyfood #newjerseyfoodie #newjerseyrestaurant ♬ Pretty (Sped Up) – MEYY

And it’s not just the delicious food that Sigri is dishing out daily, their drink selection is not to be overlooked. Try a timeless mango lassi—a traditional beverage made with fresh mango, yogurt and a touch of cardamom—or perhaps the rose lassi if you are feeling adventurous. However, the cucumber mint lemonade is the real showstopper. It’s tangy, sweet and addicting—the perfect companion to Sigri’s full-bodied and savory food. 

Beyond house-made drink creations, Sigri stocks hard-to-find Indian sodas like Thums Up—a cola that tastes eerily similar to Coca-Cola with more edge and a slightly floral aftertaste. 

Sigri Indian BBQ is exactly what the fast-casual dining scene needs in New Jersey. It brings a fun, innovative concept that is complete with high-quality ingredients and addicting flavors. It’s all thanks to founder Utkarsh Yadav—who sought to popularize his childhood cuisine in the states. With two locations today, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before Sigri is known. 

For Yadav, he is just happy to serve the food he loves every single day. “It’s a blessing. For 19 years, I lived in a small room in Mumbai before I got an opportunity [to come here],” he told me “I worked in New York—the best city in the world—I saw so many cultures meddling with each other… and food is something very, very close to me. Now it’s my bread and butter.” 

Sigri Indian BBQ – North Brunswick

540 Shoppes Blvd, North Brunswick Township, NJ 08902

Sigri Indian BBQ – Newark

155 University Ave, Newark, NJ 07102

About the Author/s

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Peter Candia is the Food + Drink Editor at New Jersey Digest. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Peter found a passion for writing midway through school and never looked back. He is a former line cook, server and bartender at top-rated restaurants in the tri-state area. In addition to food, Peter enjoys politics, music, sports and anything New Jersey.

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