It is not hard to find an Indian on the Brighton Road, but it’s tough to find a good one. Mirch Masala, part of a chain with branches all over London serving freshly cooked Indian/Pakistani food at near ridiculously low prices, is an OK bet (although be careful, match fixing is rife). MM is always busy with a mix of a whole lot of different people – good sign. The food is cheap, so even if you don’t like it you won’t feel cheated. There is cricket on flatscreens on every wall, so even if your date is boring (or you are on your own), you won’t get bored. There are no tablecloths so you won’t be embarrassed if you spill shit everywhere, which you invariably will do in a mad frenzy of food grabbing. Grabbing is a word that has acquired a particularly sinister meaning after all the Big Fat Gypsy Wedding love, but it is suitable here, the meat really does scream out to be abducted, molested, and taken home- tied up in a bag. Maybe I should organise a SlutWalk for tandoori Lamb Chops, the MirchMarch.
I went on my own – probably not a good idea as the smallest tables are designed for ten and the menu is too long to order from solo. I stuck to the first bit of the menu; starters, sharers, and grilled things because in the past the currys here have been a bit pants.
Jeera Chicken wings were exploding with Cumin. Cooked so aggresively (I mean that in a literal hacked-at-with-a-knife way) that most of the meat had already fallen off the bone and was kicking back in a punchy gloop of cumin and ghee. Piled high on a plate they were, at £3.50, an excellent choice. Go me.
Seekh Kabobs were served on a sizzling dish with onions. Two long minced lamb kebabs, carefully spiced and still, wait for it ladies, moist. Wrapped in a quarter of Mirch Masala’s most excellent Naan bread with some onions and a bit of yogurt I created the best sandwich I have eaten since I last ate a sandwich this good. It really was excellent – it may have been down to my carefully considered and well balanced assembly, I am available to hire.
The only real dud was a rather flat Tarka Daal. It was muddy and dull and too hot, in a goldilocks way. “Lentils always taste like that you arsewipe” I hear you think, well you are wrong. Tarka Dall can be and should be fresh and fun and fragrant and full of enough flavour to fill a flatbread (if only a naan was a faan).
A mango kulfi stalactyte was served in the packet. Not a pretty packet either, a white wholesale packet like a borrowers binsack.
So you should enjoy Mirch Masala if you:
- Are hungry but only have £10
- Order lots of meat
- Order lots of Naan
- Bring lots of your own booze
- Go with plenty of mates (if you have them)
- Don’t mind eating in what appears to be a hospital canteen and drinking wine from half pint glasses
- Like to poke your meat in a hot barrel of fire but want to avoid Imogen Thomas and any chance of getting burned
Distance from Croydon: Mirch Masala is on the Brighton Road down towards South End where most of the restaurants in Croydon live.
Bringing your own grog helps a-lot. They don’t serve booze. You can leave with a bag of leftovers and a full stomach for well under £15 a head. As a point of reference those brilliant Naan breads cost 80p each. More than a pound a pop less than everywhere else.