Behind the Line: Imlee Indian Bistro

Categories: Behind the Line
All photos by Jacob Katel
Mumbai native Chef Shreyas Jagtap behind the line. Yeah, that's fire.
Imlee Indian Bistro's commitment to traditional, authentic North Indian cuisine is proven daily on the palates of all who eat there. Brothers Manoj and Paresh Bhatti have owned the place since 2003. Manoj went to school in Switzerland for hospitality management; Paresh was an investment banker in Brickell, they grew up enjoying the feasts at their father's parties in Kenya. Opening a restaurant combined their skills with food and business with a love of eating. They also cook, run plates, interact with customers, and engage in quality control. "Did you taste that? Too spicy, too spicy," we heard Paresh tell a cook before he had him remake a dish.

We spent a couple hours in the kitchen at Imlee on Friday night. Click here for our slideshow or keep going for some images and backstory you won't see there.

Friday night in the kitchen.
Chicken cooks in the Tandoor oven.
Many of Imlee's specialties are grilled in the tandoor oven. Skewered meats are placed inside the cylindrical coal fired pit.

Fresh out the tandoor.
These jumbo shrimp were imported from India. Sometimes the chef gets them from Bangladesh. Paresh calls them one of the most popular dishes on the menu.

Manoj Bhatti rolls out dough for naan.
Besides co-owning Imlee, which means "tamarind" in Hindi, Manoj Bhatti helps with cooking when necessary. He trained in classical French technique at hospitality management school in Switzerland, but says "My dad used to have a lot of parties back home. We're from Kenya, East Africa, but are Indian. We had cooks and I used to hang out with them and watch them. That's how I learned. But I know gourmet French too."

The famous and varied breads of India, called naan, are literally slapped against the walls of the oven to cook. They may be plain or filled with meat, cheese, potatoes, spices, or vegetables. They are removed by a long set of antenna-like implements.

The head tandoor chef at Imlee is Mario Cortes, a Mexican from the state of Oaxaca. He says of Indian cooking, "I like the food because it's spicy."

According to Paresh, North Indian cuisine is characterized by its many curries, whereas South Indian cuisine is typically more rice based. He describes curry as having basis in the use of spice with a foundation in garam masala, an aromatic blend affecting not only heat on the tongue, but internal body temperature as well.


Location Info

Imlee & Indian Bistro

12663 S. Dixie Highway, Pinecrest, FL

Category: Restaurant

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