The name has changed and the restaurant has been renovated, but the food at Mint Indian Bistro has remained just as delicious as it was when owner Kris Parikh first opened the doors three years ago.
Unfortunately for Parikh, his first foray into the restaurant world was made under the name Himalayan Cuisine. Las Vegans don’t know what Himalayan food is, and few wanted to try it. Business was slow to say the least. The restaurant reopened a year later under its current and far less intimidating name and, finally, the buzz began to build. A renovation transformed the drab interior into a modern dining room for 70, complete with comfortable leather seating and soothing earth tones. Parikh is even talking about a second location.
Head chef Lok Neopaney has been there since Day 1. He grew up in Bhutan, bordered to the south, east and west by India. Though he speaks and understands English, he still prefers his mother tongue, Hindi. That hasn’t been a problem, though, since Hindi is the unofficial language of Mint’s kitchen. Through it all, Mint’s menu has retained its Himalayan flavors, but also offers Indian, South Indian and other Southeast Asian items.
“In the North, they like it rich and heavy,” Parikh says. “In the South, they like it spicy. In the East, you get more seafood, and in the West—which is where I’m from—there are a lot of vegetarians, and they like their food on the sweeter side.” But there is a common thread.
“Chicken curry is eaten all through India,” Parikh says. “And they eat it in Pakistan, Nepal, Malaysia, Singapore, Burma or Myanmar—whatever you want to call it—all over Southeast Asia, in one form or another. Even in Sri Lanka.”
It follows that chicken curry is one of the most popular items on Mint’s menu, which will re-launch next month, adding more than 100 items to the already-impressive offering, and each with a suggested wine pairing. But the chicken curry stays.
2007 Loma Larga Chardonnay, Casablanca Valley, Chile $12 glass, $39 bottle
“It pairs well with chicken curry,” Mint Indian Bistro owner Kris Parikh says. “It cuts the spice very well, and—being a chardonnay—it’s not too sweet, either. It has light notes of spicy apple and pear.”
- 2 pounds bone-in or boneless chicken cubes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder (1 teaspoon if you like it spicy)
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 cup onion, diced
- ½ cup fresh tomatoes, diced
- 1 Serrano chili, cut round (2 chilies if you like it spicy)
- 2 tablespoons cilantro
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Marinate the chicken cubes in turmeric, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1 tablespoon of ginger-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon garam masala and ¼ teaspoon salt. Mix well and set aside for 15 minutes.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds, minced garlic, the two remaining tablespoons of ginger-garlic paste, the diced onions and the Serrano chili.
Sauté onions until lightly browned. Add the marinated chicken and continue stirring for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of water to the skillet, cover and simmer for 12 minutes.
Add the remaining garam masala, paprika, red chili powder, lemon juice and diced tomatoes. Simmer for 8 minutes at medium heat.
Salt to taste and 1 tablespoon of the cilantro. Stir well, pour the curry in a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining cilantro. Enjoy with basmati rice or naan.