Munch goes to Mintt
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Like a lot of folks, the New Year means it's an all new Munch. Munch has made a laundry list of resolutions this year, related to health, to work, to fitness and, of course, to eating more. Go to the gym more (abandoned early this week when Munch noticed the line for the vending machine was considerably shorter than the one for the elliptical). Complete the Atomic Hot Wing Challenge without puking. Complete the Haggis challenge without puking. Complete a one-block run without puking. Stop eating my co-worker's lunches. Bag a big game endangered species. Become a championship Mexican wrestler.
And eat more Indian food. India is home to hundreds of regional cuisines. Munch is guilty of skewing toward more familiar options -- garlic naan, tandoori chicken. But Munch's goal in the coming year is to head off the beaten path.
Munch got started early this year, sampling the Mintt, an Indian restaurant in an unlikely location -- Dormont. The website says it serves North and South Indian cuisine in addition to Indo-Chinese, a fusion of Chinese and Indian flavors pioneered by Chinese immigrants in India.
With Former Intern Friend of Munch, now a curmudgeonly college senior, and a travel-weary Vegetarian Friend of Munch (fresh in from a Christmas trip to Vegas), we arrived at the cozily warm spot -- housed in a finely renovated former garage -- on a blustery, rainy day. We were immediately greeted with large, crunchy cumin-laden crackers served with mint chutney and a tangy tamarind sauce.
Not long after -- and long before we were ready for him -- the waiter came to take our order, an omen of the highly attentive service to come.
We started with the Vegetable Manchurian ($5.99), chunks of mashed vegetables deep-fried and then coated in a slightly spicy and sweet sauce, part of the Indo-Chinese offerings. While a bit salty, they were hit with FIFOM. Munch also ordered Utappam ($7.99), a thick pancake made of slightly sour dough (think injera, the bread served with Ethiopian food) chock full of sauteed onions. It was served with coconut chutney and a hearty lentil soup and was a deeply satisfying start to the meal.
FIFOM went with what he knew -- Chicken Tikka ($10.99) -- chunks of chicken served in a creamy, spice-scented gravy. VFOM got the Kadi Pakora ($9.99), chunks of deep-fried chickpeas served in a heavy sauce of yogurt and herbs. Munch opted for something unfamiliar, the Goan Shrimp Curry ($12.99).
The Chicken Tikka came heavily spiced with cinnamon, a departure from what Munch was used to. FIFOM declared it "pretty good, and way better than the dining hall gruel." Munch concurred.
The Kadi Pakora offered an unusual blend of textures -- crunchy and tough chunks of deep-fried chickpeas in a thick, creamy sauce -- that thrilled VFOM. But the Goan Shrimp Curry, succulent shrimp swimming (do shrimp swim?) in a heavenly coconut sauce topped Munch's list.
We ordered all between a 5 and a 7 spice level and all came out matching our preferences (in this case, spicy, but not heartburn-worthy).
The meal left us woozily satisfied and smiling, the perfect way to close out 2011 and an easy way to get started on 2012's resolutions.
Next up: wrestling mask fitting.
First Published January 5, 2012 12:00 am