Ghee Indian Kitchen has recently introduced an affordable, fast, and photogenic midday dining option for those wanting real food in a crunch.
The meals are served in Indian lunch boxes called tiffins: three or four stacked stainless-steel containers sealed with clips and a lid with a handle for carrying. They offer a light, wholesome, home-cooked meal easily transported for lunch. Pushkar Marathe, executive chef at the Design District outpost, is excited to introduce diners to a concept commonplace in his homeland.
"We are able to create homestyle cooking at a professional level and touch different regions of India, which makes clients very happy."
The lunch, served daily at both the Design District and Dadeland locations from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., includes a rotating nonvegetarian option ($18) or vegetarian option ($16), which arrives in four stacked compartments each holding protein, starch, and vegetable items. A typical offering includes chapati, an unleavened flatbread made from whole-wheat flour; cranberry bean rajma; brown basmati; and corvina curry. A typical vegetarian option offers cabbage and lentils instead of the fish. The Design District and Dadeland locations develop their menus independently of each other, announcing the day's offering each morning on Instagram.
"Our key was to keep it very straightforward without being too complicated," Marathe says.
A bulk of the ingredients comes from owner/executive chef Niven Patel's compact Homestead farm, endearingly called Ranch Patel.
Guests can substitute the daily nonvegetarian dish for traditional chicken tikka masala for an additional $2 or sample the daily pickle of the day, such as pickled eggplant ($3) or raita ($3), a condiment made with yogurt and vegetables. Beverages include ginger limeade with toasted coriander ($4) and mango lassi ($5), which uses frozen summer surplus fruit from Rancho Patel. Beer, wine, and hot chai are also available for $3 each.
Marathe, whose culinary background includes stints at Meat Market and 3030 Ocean, shares Patel's enthusiasm in educating diners and fellow chefs on not only Indian cuisine but also technique. Both pride themselves in hiring non-Indian chefs. "We focus on different regions every other day. They’re learning different food every day from a different region instead of just focusing on chicken tikka masala."
The chef's goal is to excite employees who work in the front of the house as well as in the kitchen in order to spread their passion for ingredients and flavors little known or understood in Miami today. "Take mustard seeds as an example," Marathe says. 'Everyone knows mustard, but no one has really seen black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and all the spices we have."
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The tiffin lunch service is an ideal way to dive into the culinary culture Marathe and Patel are hungry to share. Both locations also offer a full dessert menu with prices ranging from $8 to $10 and items such as sticky toffee date cake ($10).
"It’s very fun. It’s like having a lunch party... And it’s quick too. You sit down; you can be out of here in 30 minutes."
Ghee Indian Kitchen. 8965 SW 72nd Pl., Miami; 305-968-1850; gheemiami.com
3620 NE Second Ave., Miami; 786-636-6122; gheemiami.com.