As you’re reading this first edition of The Miri Mary Express this must mean you have visited my new home where I settled after a tumultuous travelling adventure. I want to thank you for that. Besides that, I hope that the place I have created translates to you as much home-like vibes as it does for me. Perhaps you wonder how I ended up in Amsterdam and the journey I endured before this, let me take you on the ride I call ‘my life’.
The duo that is behind Miri Mary are Anand and Foram, both born and raised in India. Anand is from West India and Foram is from Central India. The two met at Anand’s University during a cultural fest they both attended. Because life sometimes happens, the two lost contact until they reconnected at a Coldplay concert in Berlin and have been living together in Amsterdam for 5 years now- and the rest is history.
But where did their inspiration come from to completely change course, because fun fact: Foram was a criminal lawyer before this, and start a restaurant in the heart of Amsterdam? Their biggest inspiration for a change was that they feel “Indian food is underrepresented all over the globe”. People usually think of India as a poor country, colors, elephants, lions and snake charmers- “but we’ve come a long way”.
When Foram finished school in Mumbai, she took a leap of faith and moved to the city New Delhi. This is where she started her criminal career, but little did she know the city would get a way deeper meaning to her than she would’ve thought. “The city gave me my identity”. Even though it wasn’t her first time leaving her hometown, she was thrown in the deep-end and had to fetch for herself. Because unlike in Mumbai, where lots of her friends and family lived as well, she didn’t know anyone here in New Delhi and was further away from home than before.
Whilst working as a criminal lawyer in New Delhi and being in a long-distance relationship with Anand, who was living in Amsterdam already, Foram found herself drunk and sitting on the toilet one night. This is when she noticed a poster with the words “Fly away and follow your instincts”, she saw this as her sign. One month after seeing this poster she found herself on a plane to the Netherlands to go and live with Anand.
Foram didn’t always have a passion for food, of course she loved eating food- as most of us, but her passion was only really ignited during COVID. She started enjoying cooking as it gave her “a solace in the madness which was happening around the world”. She started cooking different cuisines herself, and even went on a 2-month long food trip to India by herself where she would visit up to 10-12 restaurants a day.
But why start an Indian restaurant in Amsterdam? In the eyes of Foram and Anand, Amsterdam has the perfect combination of culture and beauty coming together, something they believe Miri Mary to have as well. With Miri Mary they hope to show that India is more than just curries, and butter chickens. Foram gets excited showing people Indianized cocktails, which many people don’t know to be a thing.
There is one thing Foram has difficulty with that comes with owning a restaurant, she was born and raised a vegetarian but sells meat with some dishes at Miri Mary. As a vegetarian she does love the Ghughra- the jackfruit and cheese Rissóis. Besides that, only thinking of her mom’s cooking makes her mouth water. But the two also adore Chaat- which is an umbrella name for Indian streetfood.
When asking what the biggest blunder has been, Foram tells us she is not one to regret anything. “There have been learnings, for sure, but no regrets, never.”. Learnings such as choosing the right construction team all the way to a marketing team. They would’ve loved to plan the construction better but having talked to others they soon came to the realization this is something you cannot plan whatsoever.
Both are most proud of the fact they did it, they changed course and did that most would be scared of: change careers and start something from scratch. Neither Anand nor Foram has previous experience in the hospitality industry, so questions such as ‘what food should we do?’, ‘how does a kitchen work?’, ‘how do we choose an interior designer?’ all haunted their minds. But the goal is clear, they want to see Miri Mary flourishing, receiving all the love it deserves and more.
"People usually think of India as a poor country, colors, elephants, lions and snake charmers..."
"Fly away and follow your instincts", she saw this as her sign.
"There have been learnings for sure, but no regrets, never."
Whilst Miri Mary carries an exquisite cocktail menu and is meant to become the home for people wanting to celebrate life and create new memories, the menu was surely not spared in the process. Wanting to show that Indian Cuisine is much more than the fast-casual dining concepts you could find so far, Foram and Anand (the owners) enlisted the help of Nirvaan- a kitchen consult.
Nirvaan, a 28-year-old Mumbai native, was flown over from India to the Netherlands to help Foram set up a divine menu for Miri Mary. He was in the Netherlands for the first 3 months of Miri Mary to prime the kirchen team to run the menu he has meticulously put together for the restaurant.
Hospitable, welcoming and warm are the three words he would use to describe the Indian culture. Although he is enjoying the Netherlands, and its bitterballs ;), he feels that the Dutch could use a little more of India’s welcoming culture. Making the table bigger for someone to join is standard practice as everyone wants to get together- to eat, drink, and chill. Abundance is key in the Indian culture.
“Abundance is key in the Indian culture.”
“The velvetiness of butter gives you the opportunity to finish dishes off really nicely.”
Through Nirvaan’s persistent character at a young age his interest in cooking arose. When he was around 6 years old, his household got a new cook- whilst this sounds amazing, there was one big downside; he could not make dosa’s. Let these be Nirvaan’s favorite dish, fermented rice batter cooked into crepes. However, the cook could not seem to manage to get the temperature right, continuously leaving them sticky with many holes. Because of this, Nirvaan felt the urge to find the key to the perfect dosa’s himself. “If I could do this, that’d be fantastic because it’s actually his job, but he couldn’t do it.” Needless to say, he got the recipe down and started to keep track in his own book. As late as he would wake up to go to school, the earlier he got up during the weekends to cook breakfast for the entire family. Sundays in India are all about food, breakfast, lunch and dinner is done in unison.
Nirvaan’s first experience in the kitchen didn’t exactly go spotless…, whilst cutting carrots he took off the top of his finger. Luckily, India has spices for e-v-e-r-y-thing, did you know turmeric is a wondrous remedy for such?
Whilst Dosa’s sparked his initial cooking interest, his current favorite dish is aloo sabdi; which is basically dried potato. The potatoes are initially boiled and tossed with many spices; you eat it with roti- there is a lot of overlap with the Surinamese cuisine as there is a lot of Indian ancestry present in Suriname.
Butter is a staple piece in Nirvaan’s cooking. The velvetiness of butter gives you the opportunity to finish dishes off really nicely. Then there is ghee, Indian clarified butter, which is the type that is most often used in Indian cooking. When it comes to spices, he is a big fan of cumin, did you know they often add (after oil) cumin in the pan first?
Since India is such a large country, each part has its own ‘typical’ dish. In the West you can find an abundance of wada pao (vada pav). It is a street food recipe, which consists of spiced fried potatoes in a bun with a red garlic chutney.
South India is a fan of rice crepes, such as the Dosa’s Nirvaan used to love. In the East you will find something called Litti Chokha, it is a dough ball made up of whole wheat flour and stuffed with gram flour, and mixed with herbs and spices. It is baked over coal or wood and tossed with large amounts of ghee- the Indian version of butter. If you go to the North, Akolcha, it’s a chickpea stew, a stuffed roti with lots of butter.
At Miri Mary you can find a personified version of these dishes. Pao Bhaji- buttered bun, spiced tomato and potato stew, Dosa crepes for brunch and the Kulcha which is a stuffed flatbread, similar to roti.