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Indian-Pakistani Fast Food Joint Looks to Expand Out of Curry Hill

By Heather Holland | February 13, 2013 8:48am

MIDTOWN EAST — The quick-style dishes at Desi Shack have become so popular among the Curry Hill office crowd that the restaurant is already looking to open two new locations only a year after opening its first store.

Desi Shack, located at 331 Lexington Ave. between 38th and 39th streets, offers South Asian cuisine served in an assembly-line style format, where customers can choose the base of their dish and the toppings to go along with it.

Since Desi Shack opened in October 2011, business has been doing so well that Ibrahim is already looking to expand in Midtown and Union Square.

Although she is still in the process of looking for spaces, Ibrahim said she is looking to open one more store before the year’s end and another soon after.

“I hear people say that they take the food back to the office, and people ask them where they got it from. I think that helps a lot,” said Yasmin Ibrahim, 33, the owner of Desi Shack.

“I like that we’re in an area with a lot of offices."

The menu is simplistic with only seven items, not including veggies and sauces.

Motivated by her passion for South Asian food, Ibrahim quit her full-time office job as a management consultant to open the first Desi Shack on Lexington Ave.

“I loved this food, but I realized I was never eating it for lunch,” Ibrahim said. “There were no quick food places for Indian and Pakistani food, or there would be these great hole-in-the-wall type places, but it was difficult to go there on a work day.”

Ibrahim is from an Egyptian background, and she didn’t know much about South Asian food until she met her husband who is Pakistani.

She based Desi’s menu on her husband’s family recipes, and went through several trials and taste tests before settling on the final menu, which includes chicken tikka and lamb kebab, among others.

“I was eating more and more of it as we started dating, and I just loved it,” said Ibrahim.

The highlight of the menu, and one of the reasons Desi has become so popular, is the chutney they serve, said Ibrahim.

Desi offers four types of chutney and each are designated by a spice level. The mildest chutney consists of cucumber and yogurt, and the spiciest is made from red chili and can be a little intense, said Ibrahim.