Satish Reddy Gogula, the restaurateur behind Smith Street’s newly opened Mild to Mirchi, is all about showcasing range. “I want to give you a taste of different parts of India,” he tells Broadsheet. The ethos is reflected in the restaurant’s name (mirchi is the Hindi word for “chilli” and is used colloquially to mean spicy), which can also be thought to represent a literal journey across the country. As Gogula explains, northern Indian food is typically made mild to medium while dishes found in the south tend to be spicier.

At Mild to Mirchi, lunch service is about fast and affordable options ranging from $12.99 for rice with one curry, to $18.99 for rice, naan and two curries during the week, and an unlimited lunch buffet for $19.99 on weekends. There’s also an expansive lunch and dinner à la carte menu with dishes including naan, curries, biryani, starters like samosas and chilli.

Closest to Gogula’s heart, though, are dishes he grew up eating in Hyderabad, a city in the south of India. For those who like it hot, there’s a spicy slow-cooked goat curry adapted from Gogula’s father’s recipe. “I feel my dad’s goat is one of the best I’ve tasted,” he says. “That’s the same goat curry I want to give to the people here.”

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But Gogula says the real standouts at Mild to Mirchi are the Hyderabadi dum biryanis, a type of biryani that starts by layering par-cooked rice, marinated protein and spices, which are then sealed in a pot and slow-cooked. Gogula says dum biryani should typically melt in your mouth and requires a high level of skill, which is why it’s not a homestyle dish, but a must-have when going out.

There’s also chicken tikka, one of the dishes cooked in Mild to Mirchi’s clay tandoor oven which is manned by a tandoori chef with 15 years of experience. Gogula chose a clay oven over the increasingly popular electric options to maintain the smokiness and charring he believes is essential to tandoor classics and flavourful naan.

The restaurant is casual and has bursts of bright orange paint, an exposed brick wall and a slightly warped sky blue and white checkerboard-patterned wall at the back. Inside the light-filled space you’ll find casual seating for around 30 people in addition to a few footpath tables at the front of the eatery.

The drinks list includes mango lassi, elaichi chai (cardamom tea) and chai masala made with house-mixed spices including cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. On tap is popular Indian beer Kingfisher, and the bar stocks Indian liquors, which Gogula plans to make good use of when he adds a cocktail menu in the coming months.

Mild to Mirchi
278 Smith Street, Collingwood
No phone

Mon 5pm–9.30pm
Tue to Thu 11.30am–3pm; 5pm–9.30pm
Sat & Sun 11.30am–3.30pm; 5pm–9.30pm