Spicy Mina's: I'll be darned
We'd never been there before. Walked by a couple of times when it was empty and ended up going to Sripraphai or continuing on to Jackson Heights instead.
They plugged in the air conditioner today and blew a fuse or something. Half the lights were out. No lights or power for the hand dryer in the bathroom. The cellar door was open when we got there. There was an electric soup tureen plugged in on the floor next to one of the tables. It was as hot as a sauna, Bangladesh-hot. No matter. Mina greeted us with a smile, a table of young guys from the Subcontinent was digging into some food with gusto, and something smelled really good.
We got the haleem, an app of the tandoori chicken wings, and bhindi masala.
The haleem? Tender-but-not-disintegrating stewed beef completely permeated with flavor, in a gravy ten parts ghee, five parts cardamom and perfectly balanced, obviously freshly ground spices. Spicy, yeah, but so much else going on. The textures!
The bhindi masala was super, a drier, less overtly tomato-ey version than what we had a few weeks ago at Tiffin Wallah in Murray Hill. The okra was just right; somehow it provided a binder for all of the ingredients yet remained firm and clean-textured itself. The fried onion and bits of potato almost stole the show, the latter's starches broken down to the point of stickiness yet still retaining their shape.
The tandoori chicken, though, was the best benchmark, because it's usually the dullest thing you can get at an Indian/Bangladeshi restaurant. Here it's crusty and charred on the outside, uniformly moist and juicy on the inside, and the thin layer of marinade had a concentrated yogurt tang and more of that fresh, bright spicing.
The garlic naan was pretty good, too. Chewy, bubbly, crusty on the bottom and not a hint of burnt garlic.