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Mirchi


yvonne johnson
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Dinner last night at Mirchi, 29 Seventh Avenue South (b/w Morton and Bedford) 212/414-0931. This was my second visit to this Indian restaurant and I liked it before, but it’s even better than it was a few months back. The prices have gone up (starters Ŭ to Ű, and mains ผ to ร). For 3 of us it came to 贬, so it’s a bit more than your run of the mill Indian. But it’s worth it!

Chicken tak-a-tak. This is cooked in a tawa (a bit like a wok, I think) Succulent pieces of chicken in scrumptious spices, with a little vinegar-y flavor. It comes with a little bread roll. I learned (on chowhound when I posted about Mirchi following my first visit) that this dish is served as street food in India. The roll on my first visit had the consistency of a hamburger roll. This time, it had more texture, tho’ to be honest I’d prefer a naan.

Palak Bhaja: Spinach battered and fried. This was fantastic and beats the usual onion variety.

I went for Gosht Vindaloo. The lamb wasn’t the most tender I’ve tasted, but the flavors were deep and spicy hot. Our chum had Jaipuri lal maas: lamb with combination of 30 chilies (at least that’s what the menu says). He loves his food spicy (and having spent years in London seeking out the hottest Ceylonese curries he likes his heat) but at one point in the meal I thought he was going to go into anaphylactic shock. His face turned red and his eyes puffed up. Didn’t stop him finishing the lot.  My husband was pleased with his Changeze Champe: Spiced lamb chops.

Great thick raita, naan and daal.

HUGE portions. Your main course comes all on the plate (as opposed to in little separate dishes), and my husband for one would prefer that they not do this. It’s a nice place. Clean design but cozy and comfy at same time.

PS: For chile nuts like Jason. I quite from the menu:

“Some like it real hot! India recently uncovered the hottest food on earth. The Tezpur chile…a fiery 855,000 on the scoville scale….the white-hot habenero chile rates only a cool 577,000”.

http://www.mirchiny.com/

Cool web site.

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Tezpur chile? Interesting.

(edit) apparently the method of determining the Tezpur's scoville rating is a controversy:

http://www.fiery-foods.com/dave/assam_chile1.html

http://www.fiery-foods.com/dave/assam_chile.html

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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  • 5 months later...

Mirchi on Seventh Avenue South has some great Indian food.

Anyone know it?

What have your experiences been?

Yvonne, I live near Mirhci and often order out for street food.  I did so last night.  Had family from India, and my pantry, for the first time, did not have ingredients I needed to make Bhel Puri or Gol Gappas.

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Suvir, The search engine didn't work, but I found the previous thread where I posted.

http://forums.egullet.org/ikonboa....;t=3977

Since I last posted, we've ordered in, and we dislike everything -for -the -main -course -on -a -plastic-divided- container,  but the food travels quite well. The eGullet pub crawlers went there for their after pub curry, but to be truthful, I'd had one too many by then, and added to this,  Mirchi was about to close, so we didn't get the best of service.

Does the food billed as street food at Mirchi resemble the sort you'd get in India.

I like it because it is good and spicey. And no sweetness noted. I forgot to say earlier today on 100 Asian Sietsema thread that the chefs at Banjara do add sugar to things. This I confirmed last year when I contributed to chowhound and was confirming a Howler hypothesis (long story). I spoke to one of the chefs, after Dutta had left, and replacement said they added sweetners to raita and main dishes "to please the American taste". I note none of this at Mirchi.

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Yes that is what I love about Mirchi. They do not add sugar.  In fact, they have many Indians complaining that the food is too hot.  Strange but true.

One food critic of NYC had their birthday bash the year Mirchi opened at Mirchi.  We were around 40 people at the party.  I had helped create a menu that was unique and street food like.  The party was a huge success and supposedly the best birthday party that critic had ever hosted.

It was so difficult to top they said, that this last year a friend had to have it at their home, and we all brought food.  A pot luck party.

In fact the party got written up in places for it was a fun pot luck.

But I love Mirchis street food.  They are more Bombay style then Delhi.  But very tasty and fun.

What are your favorite dishes their Yvonne?

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Having not eaten at mirchi, I don't want to comment on their practices.  But, in some indian dishes, esepcailly from the Gujrat region (but also Bombay because Bombay contains a large portion of Gujratis, and everyone knows shold be in that state :raz: ) contain sizable amounts of sugar.

For example, pathra (sic.) is dish that has a bit of sweetness that mingles with the spice. (they do pathra pretty well at Dimple, by the way).  Other meals are often based around sugar--e.g. poori shrikhand and aloo subzi (another variation on this is a substitution of Mango pulp, preferrably made from fresh mangoes, for the shrikhand).

While street foods like tava bhaji, which I only get to eat at weddings for some reason probably should not contain sweetness, other dishes like samossa, bhel, wada pav, ussal pav and etc are all served with sweet and hot chutneys.  

So the point I wish to make here is that while lack of sugar/sweetness may well be a good thing at Mirchi, I would be careful about such generalizations when discussing Indian food.   :smile:

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Ajay, I think Yvonne was speaking more about the use of sugar in foods that are traditionally not meant to be sweet.  Some INdian restaurants have made it their decision to change the classic dishes by adding sugar or cream or both in their need to make things milder.  But would that be considered authentic?  I would think not.

You are right in sharing the fact that in some parts of Gujarat (Ahmedabad sp?) more than others, sugar is a staple in many if not most dishes.

In Surat, sugar is not added to the vegetables or curries but Aam Ras and jaggery are served alongside.  Even in Gujarat one cannot generalize.  But of Surat, there are many tales regarding their foods and how well people cooked. There is a saying in that area that “Surat noo jaman, Kashi noo maran”.  It means literally that you go to Surat to enjoy a meal, and then to Kashi, one of the holiest cities in India, to find peace and die.  In other words, the food and pickles of Surat are comparable in spirit to the holiness of Kashi.  

But Mirchi does serve street foods from different parts of India.  More so from Bombay, since the owners wife is from Bombay and a partner of t he owner is also from there.  It makes sense.

They serve Chaat Papri (North Indian style.  Hot and tasty).

Bhel Puri - A marriage of north and west.... so hot but certainly has plenty of the tamarind chutney made with sugar or jaggery.

Ragda Pattice - Has the Tamarind chutney.  But since the pepper is put with careless abandon, even thought the chutneys are sweet, they have a nice hot zing to them.

Etc.

While chaats will have chutneys that are sweet, they do not taste just sweet.  But in many Indian restaurants, they often tend to add to much sugar.  Thinking that it will make food more palatable for the western taste.

I have had that conversation with several chefs.  They tell me that to them adding sugar to gravies is a way of making it mild.  It actually offends my palate more than anything.

I love having Gujarati sweet sauces and veggies.  But they have their own very unique sensibility.  But adding sugar to Punjabi Chole (chickpeas from Punjab), Rajamah (north Indian style Kidney beans), Gobi Aloo (cauliflower and potatoes), Maa Kee Daal (black beans cooked in the north west frontier style) is not really authentic is it?

In fact even in northern India sugar is added in certain dishes.  Like Kaddu Kee Sabzi (pumpkin puree), which is eaten with pooris on religious days.  But that is a unique and classic style of preparing a dish.  

In Southern India even as they love their chilies, Medhu Vadas are served in yogurt similar to the North Indian Dahi Bhallas and the only difference is that they add a significant amount of sugar to the yogurt.  But that one straying from the norm has not made them change their way of cooking other dishes.  In fact that one dish with sugar makes it become a dish that is noticed easily by others.

So, no one wants to discredit the use of sugar.  In fact, we would love to see more Gujarati dishes on menus.  In fact last week at a lunch I had at Dimple, the owner prepared a special Thali for my guests and me.  He said the dishes he served us were what he was going to eat that afternoon.  The dishes were all-sweet and came with amazing Bajra ni rotli (sp?).  I was almost in tears for this was the first time I was eating Bajra ni rotlis after having had them last at the Munim House in Khar in Bombay.  

But when I eat Maa Kee Daal I want to see it made as I remember it, or at least close to what it should be.  If the chef wants to make it their style, they should call it something else.  Why title it as North Indian fare and then give the diner something different?  That is what I believe Yvonne was talking about and what I understood.

And yes India and its cuisine are too diverse and multi-faceted for anyone to ever group easily into any one thing.  That is a huge issue when dealing with Indian food.  One never knows, where how and what one should start with or from.

What are your favorite street foods Ajay?  How do you like them?  Where do you get them?

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Suvir,

Your post is rich in detail and I couldn't hope to respond to it all.  I agree with your points that some Indian foods should not have added sugar or cream because they simply don't taste good that way.  Certainley adding sugar to aloo ghobi or rajma would not appeal to my palate, though my dad prefers almost all of his dishes with lots sugar (and spice)--it's a result of the kind of food they made when he was growing up.  

I also concur with your pessimistic evaluation of most of the chutneys served around town; by and large they are sweet glop.  The thing I most often find missing is enough sourness from the tamarind.  I don't doubt that there are tamarind (we say amlee) chutneys out there with plenty of fire and spice, but my experience with them is that they are generally sweet and sour, with other chutneys notably the green--either made from cilantro, mint or some combination--or the garlic chutneys provide the heat when eating street foods.

As to street foods, I don't eat them often in New York, though for bothh street foods and desserts, I am partial to Rajbhog in Jackson Heights.  But based on your reccomendations, I have had some luck with dimple, though I didn't care for the chole--maybe it was an off night.

thanks, as always for your excellent insight and ability to situate any one comment within the broad scope of indian cuisine.

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I also concur with your pessimistic evaluation of most of the chutneys served around town; by and large they are sweet glop.  The thing I most often find missing is enough sourness from the tamarind

I coudn't agree more! I think there must be a lot of people in New York who think that tamarind is a very sweet fruit, when it's actually quite sour! When I lived in Malaysia, one of the things that was outside the kitchen area was a tamarind tree, and tamarind juice was regularly used to add nice sourness to eggplant curries and other dishes. In fact, the juice of the and kaffir and especially the wonderful, aromatic thin limes (limau nipis - I don't know an English name) was sweeter than tamarind juice, if I remember correctly. I do not like sweet tamarind chutney, and I think that making tamarind chutney cloyingly sweet defeats the whole purpose of using a genuinely sour and interesting-tasting fruit (if tamarind is indeed a fruit because, though juicy, it comes in pods and is related to beans!)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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My fav dishes at Mirchi are : chicken tak a tak, spinach bhaja, boti kabab, gosht vindaloo, and jaipuri lal mas.

As for chutneys, I like Kalustyan's (123 Lex Ave). Their "home made lime" is very good as is the mango pickle. But my favorite is their "home made chilli pickle". I have all three in the fridge.

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Yvonne,

YOu and I have similar favorites.

Though I do like their Bhel Puri and Ragda at good days a lot.

I have had some bad experiences with the Boti Kabab.

The Jaipuri Laal Maas made with 20 whole dried chilies is excellent.

Chicken Taka Tak is great.  Also a good production for diners to enjoy.

The spinach bhaja (pakoras) are excellent when crisp and drained well and fresh. I love how thin, crisp and light they are.

I have not tried the pickles and Kalustyans.  WIll have to go buy them.  Thanks for the lead.

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when it first opened, we went there probably the third day - Boy was it hot !!!, kind-of-burned my stomach linings. Then I re-visited it a few months back - After we had had a few doubles,  and a local pub. The food seemsed milder, then I visited sober, and indeed they had toned it down. The barkeep was from Argentina - EZE, and the wait person, was from Portugal - LIS.

Interesting  :wink:

anil

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where exactly on 7th ave is Mirchi?  I'd like to give it a try.

Bedford & 7th Ave.

Yesterday, we were in the neighborhood, so we stopped by for

radga-pattice and dahi-puri.

anil

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  • 11 months later...

A couple of months ago Mirchi changed hands. We probably went there for dinner about two weeks after the change-over. Nothing much had changed; I have not been back since March.

[btw: This post is as a cross-ref. to what was posted by Suvir elsewhere ]

Edited by anil (log)

anil

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  • 11 months later...
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