At first glance, Tava Indian Kitchen’s format has a familiar feel. Customers have three different dining presentations to choose from, a choice of proteins and level of heat. Everything is prepared within view. It’s the fast-casual model that has triumphed nationwide – from Mexican (Chipotle), to barbecue (Buckhorn).

But when the model might be idling with “safe” cuisines, along comes Tava Indian Kitchen, the new eatery introducing a little more vivacity to the game. By leveraging the familiarity of this model with fresh, yet exotic flavors, Tava Indian Kitchen hopes to bring more accessibility to Indian food, a cuisine currently rising in popularity.

It was a plane ride that started it all. A year and a half ago, the three owners of Tava—Jason Pate, Vijay Brihmadesam and Hasnain Zaidi—were working in finance and consultant jobs, standard corporate America work. Unexpectedly, Jason and Vijay ended up on the same plane and switched seats to sit next to each other.

“We talked about what made us most passionate. We talked about what impact we wanted to make next, “ said Pate. “We’ve always had a passion for Indian culture and were surprised that it wasn’t as accessible. There are a few places where they have traditional menus, but it was difficult to understand, the prices were high, or you couldn’t see the quality of the meat. We try to approach it like Indian food is good; it just hasn’t been presented in the right way. We’re trying to reimagine it.”

They brought their close friend Hasnain on board, and quickly they threw themselves into research. They worked with a professional chef to help sharpen family recipes from Vijay and Hasnain’s families. They also put together an advisory board who had experience with finance and the food industry.

Their first location was in Palo Alto’s Town & Country Village, a stone’s throw away from Stanford University. A location in San Francisco followed, and this week their newest restaurant will open in Valley Fair Mall in San Jose.

The new food stop offers three options: a rice bowl, salad bowl, or an Indian “burroti,” the latter a play on the Mexican burrito, but incorporating freshly pressed Indian roti bread. The dough is made in-house and is quite the spectacle to watch, as diners can see their own personal roti dough pressed into a 14-inch flatbread.

For the protein, Tava offers tandoori style chicken or slow-roasted grassfed lamb.

“You can’t find a fast-casual place that’s offering lamb,” Pate said. “It’s expensive but we are willing to invest the money so people can get that extra option. It’s roasted for 8 hours and pulled. A lot of people think lamb is gamey but it’s not. It’s so good. That’s my personal favorite.”

A vegetarian option is also available—garbanzo beans, sautéed in coconut milk, ginger and a combination of spices. Served with paneer, or Indian farmer’s cheese, it’s completely vegetarian and packed with flavor.

The final step is the sauces: a tikka masala, a light tomato cream sauce, or daal, a hearty lentil with a gorgeous yellow color. Extra toppings and a chutney bar (for those who want serious spice) are also available.

Tava Indian Kitchen will be opening on November 1st in the new food court at Valley Fair Mall.