There are two things I have to warn you about before you step foot into Peter Beck’s relatively new Indian bistro Pippali in Curry Hill: the one is the noise, and the other is the food! Chances are, you probably prefer the one over the other, but you will undoubtedly have to concern yourself with both. The combination of the understandable (yet unpredicted) popularity of this semi-subterranean dining room with woefully inadequate sound-absorption materials seems to recreate the chaos of the Bangalore railway station at rush hour. But be that as it may, if your waiter can manage to hear your order above the infernal roar, then you are in for one of the most exotic Indian treats this side of London.
Beck has successfully impressed New Yorkers with his inventive elevation of Indian classics into ultra modern culinary delicacies since he opened the Michelin star winning Tamarind in 2002. This new venue further permits him to take bold risks and blend western ingredients with Indian spices. While you might recognize some of the dishes by name on the vegevore/carnivore menu, the resulting flavors will most definitely surprise you.
The spinach Samosas are bursting with lentils and humming with heat – which is broadened and softened by the orange chutney. There’s hardly any need to wonder why the Jaipuri Kofta is one of the most frequently ordered dishes. These too-good-to-be-true green pumpkin and chickpea meatless meatballs are steeped in garam masala with ginger and spinach, and arrive submerged in a sauce made from precisely the same ingredients! The incredibly plump and flavorful Chorchori Chingri (marinated shrimp) are sautéed in mustard seeds and a thick coconut cream. I was tempted to try the Batak Uttapam (black pepper hand rubbed duck breast with portabella mushrooms) but ultimately chose the incomparable Tabak Maz (grilled rack of lamb).
Three succulent chops grilled to perfection with roasted aromatics that create an immaculate balance between taste, tang and tart – finished in a creamy saffron and fennel sauce, (the kind that if no-one was looking, you would bury your head deep into the plate and lick up every last drop!)
So don’t let the noise deter you. Just light some candles, put on some cool jazz, call Pippali and order in!