Chef Jehangir Mehta, New York, Graffiti, Mehtaphor, Restaurants, 10003, 10013, Indian, Eclectic, East Village, Tribeca, Where to eat in Mumbai, Where to eat in New York, Insider Recommendations, Where the chefs like to eat, Insider Recommendations



Chef Jehangir Mehta may be known to television watchers as a fierce competitor on Food Network’s Next Iron Chef, but in restaurant circles, his reputation comes from working in well respected New York City restaurants like Jean Georges, Union Pacific, Aix, Compass, Mercer Kitchen, and his own 18-seat Graffiti.

The CIA (Culinary Institute of America) trained, former pastry chef incorporates Indian influences in his French and American food, creating a sweet and savory combination. This fall, chef Mehta will open Mehtaphor in the Duane Street Hotel in Tribeca.


Q. Tell us about Mehtaphor:

A. Well, like an analogy, my food can be described differently by different people. So it’s a metaphor, with a pun on the word with my last name. Mehtaphor is going to be slightly larger than Graffiti, but still small enough to feel intimate.

Q. Will the menu and cooking at Mehtaphor differ from Graffiti?

A. There will be new dishes and there will also be various cocktails with pastry influences.

Q. Your press release says there several dining areas, including “a time worn wooden communal table fully wired for laptops and internet access.” Tell us about the atmosphere you are creating.

A. There are three areas, but all of them will be cozy. There is one communal table, which can also be used by larger groups of 12. Mehtaphor is a place where you come to relax and eat with friends or business colleagues.

Advice / Tips

Q. Graffiti has a 50 square foot kitchen. What’s the best advice you have for cooks working in small spaces?

A. Be organized. You should know where things are with your eyes closed and should not have to move more than a few steps from your station to reach for the things you need constantly. Not only does that speed up the cooking process, but it also ensures you get it right each time.

Q. Your cookbook “Mantra: The Rules of Indulgence” incorporates Ayurvedic inspirations. Can you pass along Ayurvedic tips for us?

A. Ayurveda is all about balance. Too much of anything is bad. This holds true not just for food but in all aspects of life. So leading a balanced life works well for me. You might like to try it too.

Q. For the home cook, what are the three most important spices/ingredients you’d recommend to have on hand for cooking Indian food? 

A. I would safely say turmeric, chili powder and onions. Most Indian food uses that, although at Graffiti, since our food is eclectic, we mix and match ingredients from all over Asia.

Q. And what’s your favorite herb or spice to use when jazzing up a meal?

A. Thai basil, tarragon and mustard seeds are my favorites.

Q. Can we get you to share a recipe?

A. This one is from my book Mantra: Rules of Indulgence (Harper Collins) and would be perfect for summer: Aloe Chestnut Consommé.


Q. What food purveyors inspire your creativity, which products, and why?

A. S.E.A, as it carries a variety of Asian products that I like to play around with.

[See details.]

Q. Are there food markets around the world that you love, which ones, and what should we look for at them?

A. The Tsukiji Market (fish market in Tokyo) is the one that I love the most. I could spend days there and still want to be back for more. It’s a must visit for anyone who loves fish as much as I do.

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Q. Restaurants you love in NY for authentic Indian food and what should we order?

A. For a quick meal, I like South Indian food better than North Indian food. So, for me, a rava dosa at Tiffin off Lexington Avenue is delicious.

However, Haandi does make great Biryani and I recommend you pack some up and eat at home.

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Q. What restaurants do you love:

- that are off the beaten track that you’d be excited to take an adventurous eater and what should we order?

A. Barbes on 36th street serves a lamb tagine with prunes which is good. A lot of people in the US do not use prunes much with their cooking.

[See details.]

- that have killer food, but won’t break the bank and what do you love to order?

A. Double Crown offers a great bone marrow dish, which you should try.

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Q. If we travel to India, can you share recommendations for restaurants we should seek out and what should we order?

A. Definitely. The only city I know well is Mumbai, which like NY, has very good high end restaurants, but also has corner eateries that are great.

If you want an experience that is very easy on the wallet, I would tell you to start the day with Brun pao maska at Britannia at Ballard Pier, then lunch on Bhel puri and Pankhi at  Swati Snacks at Tardeo. At tea time, head to Mocambo at Flora Fountain for refreshing cup of black tea with fresh mint which should be had with milk, and finally end your day with dinner at Trishna at Rhythm House. Or for a better ambience, head to Konkan Café at Taj.

[See details.]



Mantra: The Rules of Indulgence


Northern Spy Food Co.


Chef Jehangir Mehta’s recommendations on where to eat and shop in New York, Mumbai, and Tokyo.




Indian / Eclectic

East Village

224 East 10th Street

New York, NY 10003 (view map)

T: 212.677.0695



Tue - Sun: 5:30pm - 10:30pm

Wed - Sat: 5:30 - 11:45pm


Duane Street Hotel


130 Duane Street

New York, NY  10013 (view map)

T: 212.964.4600



Mantra: The Rules of Indulgence

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Photography by David Engelhardt

for Find. Eat. Drink.

Q & A


Details of chef Jehangir Mehta’s recommendations on where to eat and shop in New York, Mumbai, and Tokyo.