The Place The Esplanade is home to many arts performances, and I am accustomed to grabbing a quick sandwich (or the odd beer) before heading hastily to a performance. Imagine my happy surprise at stumbling upon Mirchi, a warm restaurant brimming with hearty Indian dishes, tucked into a cozy corner on the 2nd floor!
Mirchi handmakes all its cheeses, yoghurts, ice cream and naan (Oh, the naan.) Its conscientious eye for detail shows up fully in the flavor palette amongst its dishes, and is sure to be a pit stop before my next visit to an arts show at The Esplanade.
The Food The most unusual thing about Mirchi is the range of flavours. While packing a punch in the mains and rich dishes, Mirchi’s array of options in its revamped menu strikes a good balance between light and heavy tastes.
The Bombay Papdi Chaat ($7) is popular street food in India; these soft potato chunks tossed in tamarind chutney and mint yoghurt served atop crisp crackers are a force to be reckoned with. The light crunch of the cracker balances the creamy texture of the chutney and yoghurt. The team at Mirchi also told us that in India, street hawkers would display all the options for fillings on their carts, and customers can pick and make their own dishes!
The other starters we tried included the amazing Chicken Dhaniya Soup ($7), which we slurped up too fast to snap a picture of. This humble-looking dish delivered all the warmth of home on a rainy night, and was a favourite even of the Indian friend we shared our meal with, a true testament to “Don’t judge a book by its cover” indeed.
Other starters on Mirchi’s revamped menu include Paneer Tikki ($9), a cheese fritter mixed with cumin, dried fruits, nuts and grated coconuts. We also tried the Tandoori Allo ($14): hollowed potatoes stuffed with cottage cheese, herbs and cashew nuts. What a beginning – and we had barely gone on to the mains!
Full disclosure: I will eat all the naan in the world if I had no waistline to worry about (I may already have none, but that’s another story). And trust me when I say I have eaten more naan than you.
Mirchi’s Bread Basket ($13), a selection of plain, garlic and butter naans are super awesome.
Good naan needs to strike that impossible balance between crispness, chewy texture, and solid bite. Of course, heaps and heaps of garlic. Well, this dish definitely delivers on that promise. The garlic naan was inhaled like oxygen in a small room; the butter naan was moist and rich; and the plain naan a great accompaniment to the rich curries we were delighted to savour.
The Butter Chicken ($17), tandoor roasted chicken simmered with butter, tomatoes and cream, finished with fenugreek, was super rich and super sinful and just super. Now, I know Indian food is often known as being an indulgence for health nuts, but this dish is worth that long run. It really is. The chicken chunks are generous as they are tender – a rarity for chicken breast – and the gravy is equal parts creamy, flavourful, fragrant, and yes I finished it. This popular dish goes well either with the naan (oh the naan) or the Briyani Rice ($7). Stick spoon in and heap huge servings of this rice because it is well cooked, fluffy, fragrant, and worth it.
Seafood lovers will enjoy the ever-popular Prawn Chilli Masala ($24) for its plump, fresh prawns ensconced in rich and intense tomato gravy till semi-dry consistency. Yes, it is as irresistible as it sounds.
Vegetarians have plenty options too – Mirchi shared how they are rolling out specific dishes to cater to the growing vegetarian crowd here in Singapore, and one of these is the Vegetable Jaipuri ($13), a mix of carrots, cauliflowers, bell peppers, French beans and green peas cooked in tomato and onion gravy. Tastes good, and good for you. Double score.
By this time, in between loud burps, it was with great willpower that we made space for dessert. The Kulfi ($8) is traditional Indian ice cream that comes in two flavours: pistachio and mango. I opted for pistachio because pistachio.
Mirchi shared with us that the ice cream is made using traditional methods, because in the past when there were no fancy equipment and all that jazz, ice cream was made by semi-freezing the mix and then conscientiously stirring to blend the ingredients together. This pistachio ice cream is special because we – well, by this time I was the only one eating – could taste the ice flakes in between layers of creamy yet lightly flavoured ice cream. This one is a keeper, and a splendid finish to a good meal.
Rants The starters were all great in themselves, but taken together can be too rich at a go. I recommend choosing only one or two to begin your meal.
I am also not a fan of Lassi, but it depends. My friend liked it.
Will I return again? Indian food as we know it in pratas and halia spans way beyond, and the freshness or ingredients and attention to detail makes Mirchi a sure gem in the community of establishments within The Esplanade. Atop that, the affordable prices and generous portions makes it great for sharing.
All photos in this post courtesy of Mirchi.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 3.5/5
Overall Experience: 4/5
Mirchi – Taste of India – The Esplanade
8 Raffles Avenue, #02-23
Esplanade Mall, Singapore 039802
Tel: +65 6334 5590
Monday – Sunday: 12pm to 3pm, 6pm to 11pm