By Imari Rede
Representation is important. It makes people feel welcomed and secure in their own identities.
Food is a big part of representation, especially for people who find themselves as minorities in the melting pot that is the United States.
Masala Mischief offers unique Indian flavors from Kolkata, India.
Most Indian food consumed at Indian restaurants in Riverside are centered on Punjabi favorites.
Dipti and Shamanno Chakrabortty along with their daughter, Surjatapa Chakrabortty own Masala Mischief, an Indian street food restaurant located in the Riverside Food Lab.
The mission behind the restaurant is to showcase flavors from Kolkata, where they immigrated from just eleven years ago.
“We are a coastal city so we eat more fish,” said Surjatapa Chakrabortty.
Fish is not always part of an Indian restaurant’s menu in our area, but because of Kolkata’s location, the Chakrabortty family serves fish fingers that are marinated in spices and herbs and then fried.
The family wants people to understand that India has a range of flavors and seasonings.
There is no single flavor that can represent a whole country.
“We use a considerably more amount of seasoning (than other restaurants),” said Surjatapa.
Each of their dishes has about 13 different seasonings used to create the flavors that Masala Mischief offers. The flavor of the sauces are what really sets this establishment apart from other Indian restaurants.
“There is more than just red orange and yellow sauces to our foods,” Surjatapa said.
The Kolkata style food ranges from chicken and lamb dishes to amazingly spiced curry, chutney and rice that allows the Chakrabortty family to walk their customers down a busy India street through the taste buds on their tongues.
“If you go to the part of India I’m from and you walk the streets, this is the type of food you find,” she said.
California and the U.S. in general are very diverse places where cultures fuse. Recent trends surrounding cultural fusion leaves tradition behind to create popular dishes that cross lines between authenticity and culture.
The single dish that Masala Mischief offers as somewhat of a fusion is their popular chicken tikka masala fries. Almost no one would deny a potato based meal lathered in flavorful sauce, juicy chicken and Indian spiced crisps.
“I believe authenticity stands on its own,” Dipti Chakraborty said “to be able to reach people regardless of how much fusion there is.”
Masala Mischief is located at the Riverside Food Lab at 3605 Market St.
The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. during weekdays and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends.