Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mirchi: still a favourite

with Kin

I have a passion for Indian food (ok, a passion for any food, but Indian is one of my favourites) Indian colleagues know this, and everytime I am in Mumbai, Delhi, or other Indian city, they are proud to show me their cultural heritage in cuisine. Thus, I have eaten at many excellent, some famous, some hidden, restaurants in India.

Back in Singapore, it is hard to find a restaurant which really brings home the flavours of India. But to its credit, Indian cuisine travels well. A good approximation exists in many countries - in England, even in Geneva (my favourite is a small establishment called Ghandi Cafe at rue Neuch√Ętel). I attribute this to the fact that Indian cuisine depends on dry spices, which are able to be transported easily to approximate the taste of the motherland. Yet, still India is the place to go to for the gastronomic delights.

One of my favourites (among others like Song of India, Rang Mahal, Tandoor) is Mirchi. I wrote about a meal there last year which was excellent. And since then, have introduced Mirchi to a number of my friends and colleagues, all garnishing praises for the food.

But one quiet Sunday afternoon, when Edward was away at BB Camp, Kin and I decided to indulge ourselves. Indulge is the correct term, as Indian cuisine, especially Northern Indian is packed with heavy ingredients - mutton/lamb, butter, ghee, more butter and more ghee. I was a bit surprised that the place has changed! Instead of Mirchi's Restaurant, it is now called Mirchi's Kebab Factory. Decor has changed too...though still with strong Indian accents, it is now more modern and brigher...and smaller too, the bar area is now converted into a corridor.

We started with half a chicken, barbecued in a tandoor oven. This is a cylindrical clay oven, often fired up with charcoal to temperatures of 480C...very hot.

The chicken was excellent. Tender, juicy, succulent. The chicken is marinated in a mix of yogurt and spices...the cayenne pepper and chilli gives the chicken the characteristic red hue. And the heat of the oven, cooks the chicken to a crisp outside, while the insides remain tender and juicy.

Their Dhal lentils cooked over a low flame for hours, with large amounts of butter and cream to achieve a smooth, creamy texture...

This is one of the richest dhal I have ever eaten. Smooth, creamy, rich. Very good. I am not sure if its the new environment which is psycologically causing me to ponder, but I remembered the dhal of old Mirchi (before being renamed Kebab Factory), to be yet even richer..., richer than any I have sampled in India.

But rich is good, as long as it is not coy, and this dhal is not the least coy.

We also had the Lamb Biryani:

Superb as ever! The old Mirchi had the biryani served in a stainless steel pot, but the new Kebab Factory serves it on a deep porcelain plate. I prefer the old pot...keeps the dish hot. But taste wise, the mutton, or rather lamb was tender, delicious (shiok!), and the rice was superb long grained basmati. The ghee provided power to the taste, lubricating, flavouring. I recently waxed lyrical over Bismillah's lamb biryani, but lamented the lack of ghee held Arif's creation back a bit...kind of like holding back on the last bits of flavour...which Mirchi's chefs has managed to release in their version. Totally reminded me of the biryanis I had in India - at Bukhara at ITC Sheraton Delhi, or at Mahesh's in Mumbai, and the small restaurant in Defence Colony.

And of course, we cannot miss on the Indian rotis...naan:

on the left, plain naan, on the right, garlic naan. Both magnificent. With the tandoor oven, the naan is fluffy, beautiful fragrants wafts into your nostrils...and really nice mouthfeel. Slightly burnt on the outside...the charred parts imparting a smokey flavour, and really moist, fluffy inside.

But overall, still very satisfying. I can't help but feel the management is cutting some corners with the new branding image...more modern, and less luxurious. For example, the superb mango chutney which was part of the condiments tray served gratis is now removed, but the green peppermint sauce is still superb.

Mirchi's Kebab Factory
8 Raffles Avenue
#02-23 Esplanade Mall
Tel: +65 6334 5590
Daily 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 11pm
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