Monday, May 2, 2011

Whatever, We're in India - It's Like Epcot

Mirchi Ka Salan – Devi

“Bad day.  Horrible day” is Ginger Orchid’s greeting at our next Best Thing I Ever Ate dinner at Devi.

“Why?!” Vodka Stinger asks, already halfway into her martini (as she has a tendency to arrive early and Ginger has a tendency to "get lost”).

“Cockroach.  Epic battle with a cockroach.”

And so begins our foray into Indian cuisine.

Ted Allen, of Scarpetta spaghetti fame, had recommended the mirchi ka salan at Devi as the best HOT AND SPICY dish he has ever had.  We have no idea what mirchi ka salan is, but based on our inability to consume the “spicy” bar snacks at Chinatown Brasserie, we’re not too optimistic. 

Devi itself is a lovely place, draped in orange and pink silk and making one feel like she is actually in India (if only the Epcot version).  Thankfully, our waiter is more than happy to guide us through the menu like two blind girls at a jungle gym convention.  Seeming to sense our inability to handle spice, after we insist on the mirchi ka salan (a vegetarian dish), he steers us away from the apparently spicy chicken vindaloo and towards the more palatable chicken tikka masala.  We also order the trio of samosas as an appetizer, garlic naan, and rice.
Picture More of Dip Than Samosas. No Explanation.
Carving into our samosas like sculpture artists, they are all perfect: soft, crackly dough surrounding three different flavorful fillings (we don’t know what they are – we don’t know much).  The chicken, rice, and naan are all wonderful – the rice especially – and we are proud of our quickly developing palates.

Until we almost die from the mirchi ka salan.

We have discovered what makes up mirchi ka salan: peppers.  All peppers.  Peppers out the wazoo.  More peppers than we have every eaten in our lives.  (Ginger is later informed that mirchi ka salan roughly translates into "spicy chili gravy."  Sometimes, ignorance is bliss, and sometimes, it is a long night in the bathroom).
Pepper Stew. Who Knew?
Are they good peppers?  Yes.  Are they well-prepared peppers?  Yes.  Are they complemented well by the peanut sauce in which they are soaking?  Yes.

But dear God, they are spicy peppers.

Ginger throws in the napkin early in the process, eyes watering and snot dripping from her nose (we are an attractive duo).  Vodka ventures forth, managing to consume the dish by making each forkful 1/3 mirchi ka salan and 2/3 rice.  She gets about halfway through the bowl before she too waves the white napkin.
We Surrender
Admittedly, we enjoyed the rest of the food at Devi more than we did the mirchi ka salan, though this is more due to our own weak palates than Devi’s missteps (the waiter did, after all, warn us).  Still, the dish was good, as far as placing the equivalent of smoldering lava in your mouth goes.

Perhaps Ginger should try feeding mirchi ka salan to her cockroach friends.  That may be another battle in which the peppers emerge victorious.

Devi’s Mirchi Ka Salan: 3 stars

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