I have to admit, I’m slightly embarrassed it has taken me this long to visit Mirch Masala in Leicester. It’s one of those places that has been on my radar for ages, as it’s quite popular with the veggie scene in Leicester, and I’m not sure why I haven’t gone until now. I guess when it comes to getting a curry I always just want to go back to my favorite spot, which is quite unadventurous of me, I know.
Mirch Masala issued a Groupon recently and I received a further 20% off from Groupon, making it incredibly cheap and impossible for me to pass up. So, Groupon in hand, we visited the location off of Belgrave Road on a recent chilly Friday evening.
When we arrived we were told that the reservation had been made for their Market Street branch in town, which wasn’t clear when booking through Groupon. We offered to come back sometime during the week, but the manager was quite nice and let us use our Groupon at the restaurant, particularly as it was our first time there.
First impressions weren’t great, I’ll admit. The restaurant is in a little strip mall next to a few different shops, looking out onto a big parking lot. Inside, there is a little counter with different sweets and treats, and next door is the main dining area which is sparsely decorated and filled with basic chairs and tables. There isn’t really much ambiance to speak of.
After perusing the menu for a few minutes we ordered a couple beers, two starters and several mains. The menu is completely vegetarian, and all vegan options are clearly marked on the menu making it really easy to see at a glance what we could order.
A couple minutes after ordering we were told the beers we wanted weren’t available, so ordered different ones. A few minutes after that we were then told one of the starters wasn’t available either so had to make another substitution. I’m not sure if this is the norm, but I have a feeling that a restaurant with so many different dishes will struggle to have everything in stock all the time. (In addition to serving Indian food they also do Chinese, Italian, Mexican, sandwiches…)
Our first starter was the pani puri – little crispy puris that you fill with potato, chickpeas and two types of chutney. It doesn’t look like much, but the flavors were really tasty and they were the perfect little snack to start the meal. I only wish they had given us a bit more of the sweet chutney. Our second starter came out shortly after and was the bhaji platter which was a mix of different battered and fried veggies including aubergine, potato, onion and green chilies served with a coriander/chutney dressing. Each little bhaji was delicious and perfectly spiced, with the chutney complementing it nicely. There was so much though we were unable to finish it!
Our Groupon included a main each, so we decided on the saag aloo (spinach and potato) and the mixed vegetable curry. Us being us, we couldn’t stop there though and ordered a few other dishes including mushroom shashlik, vegetable biryani, salad and a chapati. Did I mention we were hungry?
The dishes that came out were each very flavorful and perfectly spiced. For me the showstopper was the vegetable biryani which was cooked in a thick, spicy gravy making it incredibly moorish. I also really enjoyed and the mixed vegetable biryani which was cooked with spiced potatoes and veggies, infusing the rice with fragrant spices. It does come with raita, so be sure to ask for it without to make it vegan.
Our meal really impressed us, especially as we weren’t quite sure what to expect walking in. It is also so cheap, with most mains under £5 each. I’ll certainly be visiting Mirch Masala again in the future, if not to dine in, at least for a cheeky takeaway once in a while.