The Raval neighborhood of Barcelona is home to halal butcher shops, Indian grocers and hip coffee shops. They all rub elbows amicably. The blueprint for coexistence is on loud show in front of MACBA. Skaters skim corners precariously and slam down with a loud thwacks and bangs, museum goers thread through the action, locals pull their grocery trolleys behind them.
It’s to this scene that Mirch arrives. Mirch means chilli in Hindi. Not that we encounter any in our food today. Mirch is the second restaurant of chef Ivan Surinder. The first is Tandoor in Eixample. Tandoor used to be a family business. Surinder took over from his parents in 2012 and made it his own in 2014. From there he obtained a reputation as a bonafide Indian chef. As opposed to a Catalan restaurant that has added a curry mix to the mayonnaise on the patatas bravas. Surinder’s efforts culminated in an Indian food cooking show on Canal Cocina and then Mirch.
There are other Indian restaurants in the Raval. A selection of them. The difference with Mirch is that it signals towards a particular segment. One that may have stocked up on beans at Nomad Every Day on the always entertaining Carrer de Joaquin Costa. And picked up doughnuts at Lukumas. Ok so maybe I am describing myself.
I’m a sucker for neon. Fullstop. And Mirch has got a neon red tiger head at the back. The light bounces off assorted tiles of red, yellow and brown. And seeps and throbs onto the tiled floor. There are more attractive lights in the main dining room. Reminiscent somehow of something Tintín might encounter in the hull of a ship. There are more dynamic graphics: a turbunad face with a floating lightning bolt on the glass pane.
We eat outside. Our conversation is frequently interrupted by a sputtering moto on the road next to us. We both go vegitarian. The bravas (4.25€) not with a curry mayonnaise but a turmeric one. Any chance for paneer me immdediately gravitates towards the Palack Paneer (10€) which is listed in a section named Curry Bowls. Understandable since putting something in a bowl vs a plate increases it’s chances for consumption exponentially these days. Extra points if it has been hand thrown. Sejal has the Original Vada Pav (8.9€) a bouncy potato burger with chat on top in a house made brioche. It’s filling fodder, the lot of it.
We hesitate about dessert. Should we really? And because if covid-19 has taught us anything it has been to sieze the day- we order the Gulabjamun with a scoop of meringue ice cream. Normally so sweet it takes your breath away the one at Mirch is small enough that it doesn’t have a chance to. It’s the kind of dessert that makes you think of it wistfully as soon as you set your spoon down in the empty plate.
Afterwards I walk the short walk to MACBA and spend some time marvelling at the skaters antics before continuing on to where else? Lukumas and Every Day.
My favourite Indian grocer is J.K. Asian Food