When chef Nidhi Mittal immigrated to the United States from India almost four years ago, she was seeking a better life for herself and for her family. Although the past year has posed many challenges for chefs, Mittal is confident in her new concept, Far East Pizza, a new ghost kitchen fusing Indian and Italian cuisines.
Many chefs say they’ve always had an affinity for food and cooking, but 40-year-old Mittal admits she didn’t pick up the skill until she married her husband.
“For the Indian housewife, it is expected that she knows good cooking,” Mittal says. “I was not that much experienced in Indian cooking, but I started learning, because my husband loves food. I started realizing that I can cook and that I love cooking.”
Eight months after arriving to the U.S., Mittal and her husband bought a deli in the Collins Crossing office building in Richardson. While the office deli mosty offered sandwiches, coffee and other snacks, every Wednesday, Mittal would sell chicken tikka masala — a recipe that came from her mother.
“I wanted to do something different in my deli because there were people who were visiting many other Indian restaurants ... so they know about the Indian spices,” Mittal says. “So when I heard this I just called my mom, and I told her to give me her recipe. And to my surprise, people would line up every Wednesday.”
While Mittal’s chicken tikka masala proved to be a hit, no restaurant was impervious to the COVID-19 pandemic. As work-from-home policies were implemented by the office building’s tenants, traffic to the office deli dwindled.
The building owner temporarily granted Mittal amnesty on rent payments, but she knew she still had to revamp the deli to make it sustainable for the pandemic.
She sought the help of TLC Vegan Kitchen's Troy Gardner, who was a fan of Mittal’s tikka masala.
“[My husband and I] asked him, ‘How can we make something out of this?’” Mittal says. “[Gardner] said that the recipe is out of this world. After a lot of discussions, we came up with the concept of Far East Pizza.”
Mittal and Gardner teamed up to create a menu inspired by Northern Indian cuisine and American Italian cuisine for the new ghost kitchen concept, which launched in early December.
The closest thing to traditional pizza at Far East Pizza would be the beef sausage and beef pepperoni pizza, with Far East tomato sauce, beef sausage, beef pepperoni, mozzarella and Thai basil, which comes served on naan for $13 or on flatbread for $21.
Signature pizzas include the Far East veggie spectacular, with pesto, roasted paneer, roasted cauliflower, red onions, cremini mushrooms, pear tomatoes, mozzarella and Thai basil. This pizza also comes served on naan for $13 or on flatbread for $21. There is also an option to build your own pizza or to customize any of the signature pizzas with additional toppings.
Mittal’s personal favorite is the tikka tok pasta, consisting of rigatoni pasta tossed with Indian curry, roasted chicken, cremini mushrooms and spinach. This dish can be ordered as a single serving for $15 or family-sized for $50.
Far East Pizza offers curbside takeout as well as delivery via UberEats, DoorDash and GrubHub.
“Initially, we were a little worried,” Mittal says, “But now we are definitely confident that we have a good concept. We are excited to introduce everyone to Indian cuisine and to let them taste the modern way.”
Far East Pizza, 1500 N. Greenville Ave., No. 110, Richardson. Open for pick-up and delivery 4 to 10 p.m. Monday; 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday.
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