Minced chic

At Gagan Anand’s Bangkok Restaurant, the chef serves a fine reception of Mumbai’s popular street food – kima pav. A minced lamb curry made with tomatoes and onions is stuffed into a salabao (or salapao), a Chinese-style deep fried bun. Near the house, in the Masala Library of the Bandra-Kurla Complex, the preparation of this meat is given a twist by replacing the green peas with puree spheres made using molecular gastronomy. In Delhi, Sodabottleopenerwala – a restaurant that sets itself up in Mumbai’s Iranian Caf – serves bacon mince macaroni for nostalgic dinners in addition to a traditional Bohra Kima Pav. At PDT (please don’t say), South African bani tea uses minced meat.

For a long time, Kima was considered unfit as part of the menu at the fine-dining establishment. Made with pruned meat, it was considered very humble to match the high quality of the fancy food. However, this attitude towards century-old food is slowly changing. Today, almost every new bar or restaurant opened in the city is giving a strange touch to the minced meat. For example, take the salt-based dinner mesohappi, where the main ingredient in three dishes is minced meat – in one, it is used for a wrap with eggs and avocado; Unlike minced samosas, it is stuffed into a filo pastry; And then there’s keema sun-side dosa. According to Anirudha Patil, chief chef at MeSoHappi, “chefs forget the beauty of ordinary food in order to be exclusive.” Patil likes the fact that minced meat is easy to prepare, cooks quickly and blends well with herbs. Santa, a newly-opened bar in Bandra, serves minced malabari quesadilla and minced meat with broccoli.

Popular with meat lovers across the country, minced meat is mostly street style food. In northern India, minced meat is the perfect antidote for winter and in Mumbai, it keeps pace with Mumbaikars as a quick and easy minced pav. In Hyderabad, mutton minced meat is made by mixing minced meat with chana dal, coconut and spices, a popular fried dish. Thus many find minced meat unhealthy due to its high fat content and the use of excess oil in traditional preparations. Neil chief chef Mukhtar Qureshi says the way restaurants have made minced meat in the past has further enhanced its reputation. “Most restaurants are very fat and prefer to serve minced meat with very low body food. This, in turn, leads to dissatisfied guests, ”he says.

In blue, the minced meat comes from the run and is cut very thickly. Since minced meat contains a lot of fat, Qureshi adds flavor, aroma and texture to masala ka minced meat, a popular restaurant dish, and offset it with spices. Bandra Gostana, on the other hand, offers a healthier, but tastier alternative – its lamb burgers use a steamed patty instead of the deep-fried version with minimal spices, which is extremely popular with patrons. Pankil Shah, owner of The Pantry, a black horse that serves keima with potato mash and pita bread, says it helps that the minced meat is an all-day meal item, an ingredient that contributes to its accessibility.

Jorawar Kalra, founder and managing director of Massive Restaurant, the owner of the Spice Library, sees Kima’s entry into the fine-dining space as a Eureka moment. “Restaurant owners understand that minced meat is a great delicacy and deserves a place on their menu,” said Kalra, who prepares his Delhi-based Farji Cafe and Made in Punjab as Kulcha stuffing. Kalra says that food cannot be understood as low- or high-end because it is the ultimate way of pleasure. “It’s important how it’s presented and the minced meat coming out of the traditional mold,” he says.

meenakshi.iyer@expressindia.com

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