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Mint progressive indian

Experience Indian fine dining

When a new restaurant opens, everyone wants to define it, name it. It's not always accurate. With Mint Progressive, it's going to be even more difficult. It's Indian food, yes. But what does that mean? There are 28 states and eight union territories in India. South, north, east, west, you'll find different culture, language, cuisine, spices. Add to that Mint's progressive look at Indian cuisine - traditional Indian cooking techniques, high-quality local ingredients, Indian spices, paired with cocktails.

Executive Chef Abhijit Sarkar is perfectly placed to bring this progressive look at Indian cuisine to Seattle. He learned about food from his mother in rural India and has turned this love into a career spanning 40 countries, many of which he visited while working on the Italian cruise line Costa. He started out cooking European cuisine, then returned to India. He worked with a company, opening restaurants, and staying 2-3 months before moving on to open another, becoming familiar with Indian cuisines from all over the country.

Co-owner Goldy Singh (left) and Executive Chef Abhijit Sarkar

He was the corporate sous chef at India's exclusive Club Mahindra for two years, then joined renowned Chef Sujan Sarkar (his cousin's brother) at Ek Bar in New Delhi in 2015. They brought progressive Indian food to San Francisco (Rooh Progressive Indian Food) in 2018, and also to Columbus, Ohio. "The progressive concept originated in 2015 at Ek Bar in Delhi, a gastro bar," he explains. "I had a friend in Ketchum, Idaho, who told me about a seasonal, tourist destination restaurant called Saffron Indian Cuisine. He said Ketchum was small, beautiful, and there was no progressive Indian food there. Actually, there was no Indian food at all! People from California would come to ski and once they tried our food, they said it was better than what they could get in the Bay Area.

"Many people think 'curry,' 'rice,' 'naan,' when they think of Indian food. Even on Costa Cruises, when they did Indian food, that's what it was. We have so much more to offer than that, with a large variety of dishes, spices, and cooking techniques. Our motto at Mint is to show our food in a different way," says Chef Sarkar. "Mint is about pairing modern, progressive Indian food with cocktails."

Mint co-owners Goldy Singh and MP Singh (brother-in-laws), have been working on this concept for almost two years. "We know when we came up with the name 'Mint,' but can't remember why," Goldy laughs. "Some people in India worship mint, and it's used in tea, cocktails, and desserts. But none of this is really the story of the name. We had our concept and approached Chef Sarkar while he was in Ketchum, explaining the elevation of the space, food, service in Seattle, asking him to join us on this journey."

Sarkar was happy to accept. "You get such good quality seafood and meat here. It's the best place to explore and find ingredients. We're using octopus, clams, mussels - food not normally found in Indian cuisine. Our dishes will come from all over India. Some will be from specific regions, and some will combine regions like our lamb shank. The starch comes from the south, and the gravy comes from the east. So things will be familiar but presented in an unusual way. We're offering a very different fine dining Indian experience. Traditional Indian food has lots of spiciness that people here are not used to. We will have some higher spice level dishes, but most will be a level everyone can enjoy. And certainly, if someone wants high heat, we can accommodate that. Cocktail and food pairings will also add a new dimension. Sometimes an ingredient in a dish will also be in the paired cocktail." Goldy adds, "We'll infuse traditional Indian ingredients into cocktails. There is lots of exploring to be done! Chef and Chief Bartender Martin Mudlin will work together on ideas. Our manager worked with Martin and his credentials were clear." Martin worked in South Dakota, Miami, and Seattle (Rob Roy), and has won numerous awards.

Achari Prawn

Goldy and Sarkar want people to understand this isn't a case of redefining a cuisine. "Indian food has not really been defined yet," explains Sarkar. "It's not documented anywhere. For instance, if you want to make French onion soup, you can find similar recipes in many cookbooks. But Indian dishes are different from area to area, family to family, restaurant to restaurant. Even in cookbooks, the recipes for the same dish, like butter chicken, are different. We'll do our version of butter chicken and will use Indian butter which gives a different flavor." Goldy agrees, noting, "Indian cuisine is ever evolving. Other cultures have had an impact on the food throughout history. And Indian food has traveled elsewhere. For instance, tika masala was invented in England. Cooks from Indian took butter chicken to England. Things were mixed and tika masala was created."

Goldy attended management courses in culinary school, and came to the U.S. in 2008, doing odd jobs while in school. A friend who owned an Indian restaurant on lower Queen Anne, Roti, wanted to retire and leave it to someone who would carry it forward. Goldy and MP took it over, made necessary changes, and then the pandemic hit. Roti survived, they envisioned Mint, and soon will debut Food Junction. "We want to be a one-stop company for Indian food," says Goldy. "Roti is old-school Indian food, Mint is progressive, and Food Junction will be fast casual street-food style. If all goes well, we'd like to replicate the concepts elsewhere, too. If Mint succeeds, our next concept will be a gastro bar, which is like a bar/club that also has food. The concept has done well in other cities."

Supreme Butter Chicken

But first things first. Per Goldy, "Mint is destination dining, a night out. Exceptional service, food, and atmosphere, without the white linens. Approachable dining." See you there.

Connie Adams/January 2023

Mint progressive indian
1103 1st Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

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