May 10, 2018
While the ambiance of Mehak India’s Aroma is modern and upscale, the burst of flavor and personal care given to each dish hints at its family owned and operated origins. Mahima, daughter of Chef MAHA-Dev, manages the operations while her father cooks and Uncle Eddie supports the business side of things. Together, this personality-packed trio is making a name for themselves in the fine-dining Indian cuisine community.
Mehak means “India’s aroma” in Hindi. How important is aroma to Indian cuisine?
Eddie: We believe we consume food in three ways. First with our eyes. Is it visually appealing? Then with our nose. Does it smell enticing or make me nostalgic? And finally, we taste with our tongue. All three will impact your experience when dining.
Eddie, you have a very successful Indian restaurant in Littleton, Colorado. Why did you decide to help open a new restaurant in Cherry Creek North?
Eddie: I partnered with Mahima and Chef MAHA-Dev because we thought this market needed a fine dining Indian restaurant. Chef MAHA-Dev cooked in London for 15 years, so his style of Indian food has a bit of a British flair to it, and people truly love it.
Mahima: We don't look like a typical Indian restaurant, and that’s on purpose. We’re a lot like the restaurants you’ll find in London… the vibe, the music, the quality [is similar]. People come here without knowing the chef is from London, and they say it feels like London to them. Our menus are a little different from what you’ll find elsewhere, too. We are very familiar with vegan and vegetarian options, and we can change our proteins easily.
Eddie: I should note that we’re careful with our pricing though. We’re only $2 or $3 more than other regular casual restaurants, and we also offer free parking right behind our building.
Does Mehak have a signature dish?
Mahima: Our lamb chops!
Eddie: Our grill makes all the difference. And our marinating process—the number of minutes that you marinate matters! There is a science to it and you must follow very specific steps when marinating and grilling your food.
Mahima: My father notices if a single plate comes back that isn’t empty. He’ll want to know why. He looks in the trash to see what might be getting thrown out. He wants to know everything about what people want when they’re here.
Spice level is something you are frequently asked about when you dine in most Indian restaurants. Do you make the same recommendations here?
Eddie: It is our job to prepare your food to your taste, so we will always ask what spice level you like. But there are some dishes that cannot be made mild, and our job would be to recommend something else if you truly want a mild spice.
Which traditional Indian dishes should not be made with a “mild” spice level?
Eddie: A vindaloo can’t be made mild. If it is, someone has added too much water and it’s not true vindaloo. A cream-based dish, on the other hand, cannot be made very spicy because the dairy neutralizes the spice level.
Mahima: A lot of Americans believe chicken tandoori is supposed to be bright red, but those colors are additives. They aren’t natural. We never use additives or anything that isn’t natural in flavor or color.
You made a conscious decision not to offer a traditional Indian buffet. Why is that?
Eddie: Ninety percent of Indian restaurants have a buffet. We decided not to offer a buffet for several reasons. When you go to a grocery store you wipe your cart with a sanitizing wipe before you start pushing it, right? A buffet spoon gets used by close to 200 people in a day. Think about that. Second, we make our food from scratch. If you have too much heat or heat for too long, it will dry out your food or change the taste. Also, you might not get the right portion of protein if you go to a buffet. You come here, you get your fresh made-from-scratch lunch for $12, and you can leave with a bag if you don’t finish it all.
You have partnered with Uber Eats specifically to offer delivery services. Would that delivery time change anything about the experience of consuming your meal?
Eddie: No, because we only deliver within a five-mile radius to our neighbors, and it will get to you in under 10 minutes. Your meal will come to you exactly the way it would be experienced in the restaurant. Right now, we’re offering a 20 percent discount on all first-time orders through Uber Eats.
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