Take French pastry dough, add fillings such as chicken curry, paneer and spicy mixed vegetables, and you have Hot Breads -- an Indian-style bakery chain that has opened its first Virginia location in Chantilly.
Hot Breads snack food cafes started in southern India and now have U.S. locations in New Jersey, Michigan and California.
The Hot Breads in Chantilly -- in a small strip shopping center on Route 50 near Route 28 -- is co-owned by Sree Nadriga, who also owns an Indian grocery store in Sterling. His sister, Pavani Seri, helps him run Hot Breads. The menu offers a variety of pastries and buns stuffed with Indian fillings aimed at both vegetarians and carnivores. The prices are cheap. A bun stuffed with Indian-spiced cheese (paneer) is $1.50. A Danish with a chicken tikka filling is $2. A one-serving veggie pizza is $2. The most expensive item is chicken tikka panini, $6 each.
In India, says Nadriga, the filled breads are popular with students who make them into a light lunch or a 4 p.m. snack with tea. Here, they're popular with families who pop in during the late afternoon for a quick snack or to take home a box full of different breads for casual weekend meals.
Hot Breads also offers pastries and cakes, including eggless cookies and cakes for vegetarians. A loaf of sliced, saffron-colored masala bread, spiced with cumin, jalapeno, mint, turmeric and cilantro, is $2.
Nadriga says his Hot Breads is busiest from Thursday evening through the weekend. On a recent Saturday afternoon, the shop was noisy with young families. There are tables and chairs for about 25 customers, and parents can distract their children by wandering toward the back of the shop and letting them watch behind glass partitions as employees decorate slices of cake and sweet pastries.
Those who come between 4:30 and 8 p.m. can order vada pav, a small veggie patty served on a bun with chutney. For $3.50, you get two of the small sandwiches. For those who eat meat, the buns or croissants filled with goat kheema (curry) are delicious.
Hot Breads, 14027 Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy., Chantilly. Call 703-263-1466. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
-- Candy Sagon