Don’t fear the (Ass) Reaper at Jiti Indian Fusion

Hot stuff: A variety of dishes from Jiti Indian Fusion.
Hot stuff: A variety of dishes from Jiti Indian Fusion. Tom Perkins

Jiti Indian Fusion

5114 Rochester Rd., Troy
11 a.m.- 9 p.m. daily
Handicap accessible

I was ready for The Ass Reaper. I really was. But I was talked down by Lilucky Singh, the owner of Jiti Indian Fusion in Troy.

"Try the number nine," he said, suggesting a hot sauce called "The Ass Sizzler." Apparently he took me for the kind of guy who could handle having his ass sizzled, but not reaped by The Ass Reaper, which at No. 10 is one notch hotter on Jiti's hot sauce roster.

Singh makes his own sauces, and his spice scale starts totally mild at No. 1 and ascends to the hottest variety at No. 16, which is called "Death Wish Sauce." All sauces above No. 7 are powered by habanero and ghost pepper, while those above 14 are also made with Carolina Reaper peppers, the hottest pepper known to man.

Singh was right. The Ass Sizzler — a mix of habanero, ghost pepper, green chilis, oil, and tomato sauce — is challenging enough.

He squirted it on a kati roll, which is classified by some as "Indian street food" and comes wrapped in flat bread called paratha. I ordered my kati with paneer 65, a dish of spongy paneer tossed in a flavorful mix of garlic, turmeric, red chili, ginger, cumin, cardamom, black cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and more, cooked with onion and tomato sauce, then hit with extra mustard seed and cumin. The wrap was finished with diced jalapeños, red onions, and Ass Sizzler hot sauce, the latter of which proved to be too much. It forced me to eat the roll over two sittings, but it was no fault of Jiti's — I overestimated my heat tolerance.

For my chicken masala kati roll, I went with a much more chill sauce — the No. 5, a green chutney with pureed mint, cilantro, onions, spicy chillies, and salt. It enhanced without burning, and was the perfect condiment.

Though the masala was solid, it's the bread that makes the dish. Paratha is an Indian flatbread that's similar to roti; for those unfamiliar with Indian cuisine, it's a not-too-distant cousin of a pita bread. Jiti squeezes the package in a sandwich press, rendering it slightly greasy, and it's an all around excellent sandwich.

While the kati rolls are tasty, there's better chicken masala out there. Jiti is a fast food restaurant at which the fillings are prepped ahead of time. The rolls are quickly assembled à la Subway or Qdoba, though Jiti is far superior. There are also few metro Detroit kati roll purveyors, and these alone are worth the trip.

Jiti offers a wide selection of options for stuffing the kati roll, like chicken korma and lamb kebab, and vegetarian fillings ranging from paneer 65 to chole, a curried chickpea dish. The filling can also be applied to a pizza, rice bowl, burrito, burger bun, or noodles, if you want to get especially weird. Once the protein or vegetables are placed in the vessel, the package is finished with a variety of fresh diced toppings like red onion, tomato, cilantro, spinach, and so on. Finally, one decides how they want to treat their ass.

Among the better fillings were chicken achari with Indian pickling spices. The mixed coconut curry vegetable kati is the good kind of unusual with heavy coconut and curry flavor, and a friend had enjoyed the vegetarian gobi Manchurian. A burrito with lamb kebab was solid, but it seemed like it would've been better as a kati roll. We also got a tasty paneer tikka pizza, though it's made with frozen dough — no one is tossing fresh dough into the air behind the counter at Jiti — but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

The restaurant does offer more traditional meals from the menu's "barbecue section," where we got mixed results. The chicken malai tikka comes with big hunks of yellow and red bird over a plate of krinkle cut fries. It's spiced with salt, cumin, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, garlic, and is a fine meal. The spicy and tangy wings come in a sweet and spicy sauce based with Chinese gochujang — a garlic-chili sauce — that's blended with Indian spices, jalapeño, and onion. The chicken and lamb kebabs are super flavorful and ground and packed with cilantro, onions, and spices, but were also a tad salty. The paneer was simply too dry and bland to order again.

If you're going to an Indian restaurant and not ordering the mango lassi, then you've done it wrong. Jiti's version is solid, and there a range of pops and other drinks. The restaurant, which opened in 2018, just expanded into a neighboring space and now seats about 80, which gives it some much-needed elbow room.

The only question that remains is did the Ass Sizzler do what it suggests it will? Though it left me with a burning stomach for a few minutes after consuming, I'm happy to report that the next day played out ring sting free.

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