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Nov 1, 2013 05:02 PM
Discussion

Pippali in the East 20s

Just saw that there's a new Indian place on Seamless in the East 20s called Pippali -- a little Googling shows that it's from the people behind Chennai Garden and Tiffin Wallah. Anyone tried it yet? Any good?

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  1. Update: Ordered from there last night. Not bad!

    Tried the samosas, which were tasty, although they came on a bed of chickpeas in sauce, and were topped with (among other things) chopped raw red onions and pomegranate seeds. All of which seemed like overkill, and made them soggy. But they were still pretty good.

    The chicken tikka masala was very good -- a thicker, darker sauce than I'm accustomed to. The chana masala was all right, although the chickpeas were so soft, it was akin to a cumin-infused order of baked beans. And the naan was delicious, although really, it's difficult to go wrong with buttery bread.

    (A tip: Nothing came with rice, so if you want rice, make sure to order it. We didn't, and wound up eating everything with just the naan.)

    1. I like when Samosas come with the Chana Masala and the other toppings. That actually sounds really good. I agree about the soggy part, though. If it's delivery, it should come separately to mix it yourself.

      1. Been eyeing this place as well; the chef is from (Michelin-starred) Tamarind. The menu looks fairly solid, although it seems you have to order the rice/naan separately as they don't come with the entrees (a little annoying, but whatever). Will be trying in a few weeks with my coworkers, so hopefully it won't disappoint.

        1. To add to this brief discussion:

          We went to Pippali the other night, and had an excellent meal. Since opening, the restaurant has more or less been packed. Getting a reservation is difficult. Indeed, we showed up having been told they were already full but, thankfully, the excellent manager, Samir, found us a table.

          The restaurant is comfortable, service is good. There are many dishes not found on the menus of nearby restaurants. Two standouts were a starter of masala shrimp on a corn cake and a lamb shank ghost -- simply outstanding. Great nan, and other dishes, including a great saag paneer.

          While this may be against our own self interest in getting a table: it is our new favorite Indian.

          1. We have been in a comfortable rut. Malai Marke, Dhaba, and Chote Nawab. Then we start again from the top. While we continue to love those restaurants we’ve been looking to add some new ones to our core list. I did some research and thought this place was plausible. It sure was. We’ve now been twice and both meals have been really successful.

            Pippali has a pleasant contemporary décor, almost minimalist. It’s unusual in that it doesn’t have the usual “Indian restaurant” decorating cues that are common in most places.

            https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7577/1...

            https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7529/1...

            The tables are well spaced, always a welcome thing. Both visits were on Saturday nights. The first time the place about 80% full and on our second the place was full up. The word is out. This place does real business.

            On our first visit they swapped in a type chips for the usual thin papadum. While I love papadum they do tend to snap off as you use them. The chips were more robust. (The chips were a ringer for fried plantain chips but didn’t have that distinctive plantain taste. I should have asked what they were.) On our second visit we were served standard papadums. Both were very good.

            https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7578/1...

            https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7642/1...

            We had previously looked at the menu online and found they had a number of dishes we hadn’t seen before; we ordered accordingly. The descriptions and pictures cover the dishes we had during both meals. Even *we* can’t eat this much.

            Our starters -

            Hari Mirch - green chili and cilantro marinade, grape relish. skewered and tandoori grilled.

            https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7511/1...

            This was generous portion of juicy chicken. The cilantro flavor was pronounced is a good way and the grape relish was a nice counterpoint.

            New Delhi Samosa Chat seasoned potatoes in a turnover, chana masala, chutney and yogurt drizzle.

            https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7475/1...

            God knows I’ve tried to like chats but with no success. My GF loved this. I thought it tasted like a superior version of the chats I’ve had before but I couldn’t muster any enthusiasm. If you like chats in general you should listen to her, not me, and try this.

            Lucknowi Seekh Kabab

            https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7608/1...

            I used to eat these in London all the time and loved them. Back in NY I found the local versions were a disappointment. Ten years ago they just weren’t spiced right. Then, about 4 years ago, I began to find versions that tasted right but they were always a bit dry. Not the ones at Pippali. These were juicy and perfect, as good as the ones I’ve had in London.

            The mains –

            Bihari Gohst - marinated lamb shanks braised in onion, tomato and whole spices.

            https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7638/1...

            Lamb shank! We’d never found it on the menu at a NY Indian restaurant. This was a nice change from the usual lamb curries we’ve had. Fully robust and really enjoyable. A generous portion too.

            Deg Gohst - slow cooked boneless leg of lamb, roasted spices, onions and tomatoes.

            https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7475/1...

            This was more of a traditional curry but with more complex spicing. I’ve never seen this on a local Indian menu before but I’d happily order it again.

            Nawabi Kesari Murgh saffron - flavored grilled chicken

            https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7617/1...

            Yet another new dish. Juicy, delicate, but fully flavored. An absolute winner.

            Two visits, two outstanding meals. Pippali is cooking at a high level and I look forward to many return visits.

            11 Replies
            1. re: Bob Martinez

              Sounds excellent! How's the salt level?

              1. re: Pan

                We have been multiple times and have not found the salt level high, certainly lower than some other spots (I found the food too salty at Malai Marke on occasion, for example). Samir, the maitr'd at Pippali, is a great host. Their lamb shank is excellent. Ditto their other spicy lamb curry.

                1. re: comiendosiempre

                  Thank you. That's hopeful for me. And thanks to you, too, Bob. I haven't been to Malai Marke since Hemant took over.

                  1. re: Pan

                    "I haven't been to Malai Marke since Hemant took over."

                    While Hemant has taken over the restaurants he's making changes incrementally. Haldi was the first makeover. I've been to Malai Marke 3 times recently. The menu hasn't changed yet.

                    The food was very good with one weird exception. I ordered an old favorite app, the chili chicken. Only in this case, I wasn't served chicken - it was tofu, prepared with the exact same spicing as usual. The first cue to the change was a difference in mouthfeel. Then I noticed that every piece of "chicken" was an identical perfect rectangle.

                    The tofu was pretty good - just not as good as the chicken would have been. I did think it was poor form to serve tofu in place of chicken without letting the customers know.

                    Everything else about our meal was very good, the same as always.

                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                      If nothing much has changed yet at Malai Marke, I may wait a while longer before returning, given how disappointing my last visit was.

                2. re: Pan

                  Roughly the same as Malai Market and Dhaba. I hope that works for you.

                  We *really* like this place.

                  1. re: Pan

                    I had your post in mind when we went back to Pippali last Saturday. A couple of the dishes we had were overly salty.

                    Starters –

                    Khasta Papri Chat garbanzos, potatos, wheat crispies, mix chutney, yogurt drizzle, chickpea "sev."

                    https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7654/1...

                    My GF liked this fine but said she preferred the New Delhi Samosa Chat she had on an earlier visit. I didn’t sample it because I’ve never found a chat I like.

                    Taash Kabab lamb cubes braised in yogurt, saffron and tangy spices. "malabari paratha."

                    https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8787/1...

                    The spicing here was assertive, something I like. What I didn't like was the salt level which was 30% to 40% higher than I would have preferred. The paratha served along with the lamb helped a bit but the kitchen really needs to have a lighter hand with this dish.

                    Mains –

                    Bihari Gohst marinated lamb shanks braised in onion, tomato and whole spices.

                    https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7653/1...

                    My lamb app was somewhat salty. This dish, which my GF ordered, was REALLY salty. Probably at the 50% to 60% level. I tasted a couple of bites and my mouth was just buzzing. The spicing itself was very good but the salt level totally unbalanced the dish. The portion was very generous and we wound up taking most of it home. A couple of days later my GF doctored it up with a bunch of Yukon Gold potatoes which offset the saltiness enough to make it edible.

                    Lagan Ka Murgh oven roasted stuffed chicken roulade infused in yogurt, poppy, melon and saffron gravy.

                    https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8763/1...

                    There’s some chicken roulade lurking under the surface. Ah, here they are.

                    https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8710/1...

                    Actually, there were 4 and they were excellent. Fully spiced and perfectly balanced. The sauce was somewhat rich so I was only able to finish 2. The remainder are in my freezer where they’re destined to be my dinner on Monday.

                    OK, back to the salt levels. This was our 3rd visit and we didn’t encounter this issue previously. FWIW only the lamb dishes we ordered this time around had this problem. Maybe it was a one off. Or maybe that’s the way they think those dishes are supposed to taste. We’d never ordered them before so I don’t know which of those alternatives is true. We’ve ordered lamb dishes there in the past and never had this issue.

                    (In hindsight we should have said something to the manager.

                    )

                    So there you have it. We continue to like the restaurant so we’ll be going back. We’ll keep you posted.

                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                        Six of us got to Pippali last night (6 of the 8 of us who've been to Malai Marke and Haldi together in the past two months) & we all were very impressed. As folks have already said, the (now "consulting") chef is from Tamarind (which was never one of my personal favorites, but I only got to the one in Tribecca) & the owners are the Chennai Garden/Tiffin Wallah folks (they combined those 2 in the TW space and Pippali is in the old CG space). To keep it a "its a small world" situation, the Manager/Host & I recognized each other from Devi, where he'd worked front of house with/for Hemant & Suvir. The chefs all know each other well and are friends. I think they see it as friendly competition in an area they're all hoping becomes more of a destination for excellent Indian food.

                        Our host spent time explaining to us that the menu was a melange of dishes from various regions of India and that they've decided to present this overview of Indian cooking instead of focusing on any region. He said that this includes some "street food" culture as well as "high dining". It was evident from what we ate that he was telling the truth.

                        At any rate, I'm not sure exactly what we were comp'ed. Two dishes (a large bowl of Daal & a Cauliflower side dish) were presented as gifts to the table, but I get the impression that other dishes (especially the apps.) were re-sized at no charge so that all 6 of us would get enough of each. And we weren't charged for rice. The total bill was $100/couple + tip and we ate waaay too much & ordered 3 bottles of wine and several beers. I'd estimate the average cost as 2/3rds of this max. Now on to the food.

                        Everything we ate was very good to excellent. Really. Very distinctive flavors and saucing on each w/clear skill in preparation and execution. I fully agree with Bob M's better half about the Samosa Chat (I always do and we split Chat dishes together when we eat with them) - it was excellent. We also had beet patties stuffed with figs that were great ("Anjeeri Tikki"), mixed veggie fritters that were cleanly done with flavors of the veggies intact ("Seedai Pakodi") and a dish of green chile chicken pieces that brought heat and flavor together with large tender white meat chicken pieces ("Hari Mirch"). I like chicken and I really liked this chicken.

                        For mains, we shared one of the best homemade cheese dishes I've ever had ("Bikaneri Paneer"), a side dish of excellent mushrooms ("Mushroom Tak Tak"), the eggplant ("Baingan Ka Salan" - which had smallish thick pieces of excellent eggplant in a very rich sauce that needed finishing over rice after the eggplant was gone), a nice, hot chicken dish ("Kombdi Kolhapuri") & one of the lamb dishes recommended by Bob M ("Deg Gohst" - really good; with a lot of non-fatty fresh lamb). We also had an excellent crab balls dish ("Andhra Peetalu Iagaru") which is described well on the menu but is way better than even the description. Again, the saucing was rich and stood out. Our final entree was Chilean Sea Bass ("Melagu Chemeen"), which was a large thick fillet of fresh fish prepared expertly by the kitchen and sitting in a sauce that added flavor without overpowering the fish. Really good. An order of naan and one of garlic naan helped sop up the remaining sauces (as did 3 dishes of rice). No way were we gonna eat dessert.

                        All in all, one of the best and most satisfying Indian meals I've had. Another great place on what seems to be an ever improving Lex. Ave Indian food scene. Go.

                        1. re: Steve R

                          I'm really glad and somewhat relieved you liked it. I'd hate to be at least partially responsible for 6 people having a mediocre meal. :-)

                          It's nice having yet another good Indian restaurant. Over the last 5 - 6 years things have gotten markedly better.

                          BTW, Pippali always includes rice along with the mains at no extra charge.

                          1. re: Steve R

                            Thanks a lot for this comprehensive report!

                            One side remark about Tiffin Wallah: I recently ate there and had one of the saltiest meals of my life, and when I pointed out that the food was extremely, extremely salty, the waiter didn't give any response whatsoever. They were quite busy (it was a Saturday night, I think), so they have no business reason to cut down on the salt, but no restaurant should be putting out food with that much salt.