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Tayyab being jam packed yet again at 7pm, we decided to give the nearby branch of Mirch Masala on the Commercial Rd a try. This is a chain of Kenyan owned Punjabi places and the menu novelty is the promotion of "Deigi" dishes, which according to Fahro means "cooked in a large pan" usually for celebrations and weddings. Clearly this is like stressing "balti" or "kharai" dishes , pretty meaningless and just a way of trying to market curry to make it sound more interesting.

 

I'd noticed when passing that Mirch Masala has been crowded of late and now I know why. We had a damn good meal. Whole Fried Talapia came up crispy and crunchy on a bed of sizzling onions with the meaty flesh inside coated with a spicy masala. Fried Mogo (cassava) chips sprinkled with chilli powder and admirably crispy meant we were eating a rustic Asian version of Fish and Chips.

 

Following that we were pretty stuffed so we asked for our Kerala Masala to be packed up for takeaway, but we did manage a Diegi dish-Dal Gosht. This was a creamier richer dahl than the Tayyab version, less assertively spiced and less oily. The dahl was the point of the dish, the few pieces of meat only there to give a meaty dimension to the texture and flavour tint of the dahl. Tandoori Rotis were spot on

 

We noticed that the Seekh kebabs came up sizzling a la Tayyab and that there's a larger than usual range of vegetarian dishes on the menu

 

Given the demise in quality of the Lahore Kebab House opposite, this would now be the main rival to Tayyab in the vicinity. It doesn't have the atmosphere but the food is more than passable.

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Tayyab being jam packed yet again at 7pm, we decided to give the nearby branch of Mirch Masala on the Commercial Rd a try. This is a chain of Kenyan owned Punjabi places and the menu novelty is the promotion of "Deigi" dishes, which according to Fahro means "cooked in a large pan" usually for celebrations and weddings. Clearly this is like stressing "balti" or "kharai" dishes , pretty meaningless and just a way of trying to market curry to make it sound more interesting.

 

are you sure you don't mean "degchi"? a degchi is a wide, but deep pan, somewhat like a large karhai.

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may well be a different thing (or a language thing). i may just never have heard of it--which would not surprise me at all.

 

the only other reference i can find to "deigi" in relation to cooking is in another review of mirch masala. "daygi" shows up on a page about afghan food. googling, you understand, being an accepted mode of research these days.

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may well be a different thing (or a language thing).

I have noticed in Indian restaurants that either there are many dialectic variations of particular words, or else they have a problem of phonetic transliteration :(

 

For example, I have seen rice spelled pulao, pilau, pillaw and pillaf, and heard it pronounced peelaw, peelow (as in both tow and cow), pillaw, pullow and so on. I have seen a similar variety of representations of kebab, biriani, bhaji, and many others.

 

There was a whole TV programme about the guy who reinvented the word balti to represent an alleged style of cooking in Birmingham back in the 1980s. The reporter interviewed dozens of Pakistanis in the area who couldn't entirely agree on what a balti was :( And again, the number of spellings and pronunciations proposed were countless.

 

Tony, is the Mirch Masala in Norbury part of the same chain ? I remember Matt rated that highly, although the Friars and I weren't at all keen. And would you say that the one in Whitechapel is actually worth going to ahead of Tayyabs ?

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It is the same people, they have been expanding of late, I dind't realise they were Kenyan? There are branches in Tooting and Southall as well.

 

I've never tried the fish, maybe I'll give it a go. I can heartily recommend the chicken wings (any of them), Deigi lamb chops, Deigi Methi Chicken and if the kebabs are on form the Karahi Kebab is excellent as well. Great Chilli Bhajia, seekh kebab, chicken kebab, good grilled lamb chops although they sometimes vary in size :( . Lamb Tikka nearly always superb but eat it quick before it cooks too far through and goes a little hard. Vegetable dishes aren't always that great, Breads vary wildly between fantastic and completely average depending on who is making them that day. The otehr day I heard somebody ordering dry Gosht which I presume is going to be a similar dish to the dry meat at New Tayab, it isn't listed on the menu.

 

Just found a website: http://www.mirchmasalarestaurant.co.uk

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I have noticed in Indian restaurants that either there are many dialectic variations of particular words, or else they have a problem of phonetic transliteration :(

 

For example, I have seen rice spelled pulao, pilau, pillaw and pillaf, and heard it pronounced peelaw, peelow (as in both tow and cow), pillaw, pullow and so on. I have seen a similar variety of representations of kebab, biriani, bhaji, and many others.

 

And not just Indian. Don't get me started on the spectrum of spellings from longaniza to loukanika. Call it a sausage, I say.

 

googling, you understand, being an accepted mode of research

 

I wonder how many papers are submitted to learned journals these days, citing Google in the footnotes. :(

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Tony, is the Mirch Masala in Norbury part of the same chain ? I remember Matt rated that highly, although the Friars and I weren't at all keen. And would you say that the one in Whitechapel is actually worth going to ahead of Tayyabs ?

 

Yes it is part of the same chain. I don't think it's as good as Tayyab but I'd need to have more than one meal to know for sure.. If I think people will enjoy it I'll organize a dinner there- after the World Cup :(

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I have noticed in Indian restaurants that either there are many dialectic variations of particular words, or else they have a problem of phonetic transliteration :(

 

For example, I have seen rice spelled pulao, pilau, pillaw and pillaf, and heard it pronounced peelaw, peelow (as in both tow and cow), pillaw, pullow and so on. I have seen a similar variety of representations of kebab, biriani, bhaji, and many others.

 

the lack of standard transliteration is fine--since hindi is a far more nuanced language (in terms of consonants and vowel sounds) than english. some conventions have become standard among a particular class of people due to historical reasons, but many of these are often horribly mangled colonial mispronunciations--mulligatawany, pilaf etc. most people probably wouldn't recognize the conventions followed by linguists. then again some words can differ slightly by region and across indian languages--degchi in hindi, dekchi in bengali. so those kinds of variations don't bother me. now if "deigi" is a bad transliteration of "degchi" that's pretty bad, but it may not be. it may be a word in another language/dialect for "degchi' or it may be a particular pan from a particular place that i don't know of.

 

i can't think of hindi speakers who would pronounce the rice dish pee-lao (that would be closer to the hindi word asking for a drink). rice itself would be "chaaval" in hindi, anyway; pulao (where pu as in purr and lao rhyming with mao) is a particular rice dish. i have a feeling that some indian restaurant folk guess at what kind of transcription and pronunciation seems more classy and exotic to the non-indian ear. describing your rice dish as pulao or pilaf can also be a class/westernization desire thing in that sense.

 

There was a whole TV programme about the guy who reinvented the word balti to represent an alleged style of cooking in Birmingham back in the 1980s. The reporter interviewed dozens of Pakistanis in the area who couldn't entirely agree on what a balti was :( And again, the number of spellings and pronunciations proposed were countless.

 

balti means bucket--in hindi and bengali. i'd be very surprised if it meant anything else in punjabi or urdu (the two other languages you'd expect to encounter among pakistanis). (baal-tee.)

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I ate in the Tooting branch for a change on Friday, outstanding Deigi Methi Chicken and Karahi kebab, disappointing Tandoori paratha. The grilled Grilled Lamb chops were poor but only because they were so delicate, pale and tender that they should never have had a single spice thrown at them, they possibly wouldn't have been out of place in a Michelin starred restaurant :(

 

Same menu as the Norbury branch but actually better than the Norbury branch has been of late.

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